Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Asus UX31 Ultrabook Glitches and Teething Pains

The Asus UX31 Ultrabook, one of the most promising ultra thin notebooks released to market in October has some serious useability issues right out of the box and the early reviews have identified two problem areas with the notebook that I believe should be corrected before it is released for mass distribution. The trackpad driver does not work properly and you need to download the updated trackpad driver from the Asus web-site to fix it. Testers and early adopter/users have complained that the fixed driver is very rough around the edges and still needs work. The keyboard was also identified as a potential deal-breaker as it requires more than average pressure to engage the keys forcing key-stroking errors as you need to press down with much more force to make sure the keys register. I believe Asus will do the right thing and suspend shipment of these notebooks until the problems are corrected. The standard for thin notebooks is the MacBook Air and the Samsung Series 9. Both of those ultra-thin notebooks have smooth trackpads and keyboards that allow touch typists to type normally without having to worry about abnormal keyboard pressure.

In early test reviews the Asus UX31 Ultrabook garnered praise and high marks for its sleek design, classy textured surface and the overall strength of the chassis, lid and covers using a reinforced aluminum unibody design.Weight is a shade under 3 pounds and is as thin or a little thinner than a Mac Book AIr. Performance is also one of its strong points along with a longer than normal battery life topping out at around six hours.

You can have the coolest and best styled notebook on the planet or universe but if you cannot type or use the trackpad for normal operations, then it pretty much is nothing but a cool looking gadget with no useable functionality. The whole idea is to preserve and extend the portability of the desktop computing experience without sacrificing the input method. I think the other notebook manufactures are taking a very close look at this situation and are taking more steps to test their product very thoroughly before releasing it to the channels. The pre-announced Toshiba, Sony and Lenovo Ultrabooks all promise to deliver very thin (about .6 inches thick) powerful notebooks with great battery life (more than 5 continuous hours of run-time) with the latest generation of Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 Processors).. I hope that they do not make the same mistake of releasing product before it has been thoroughly tested in the field.

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