Keyboard & Touchpad / Upgrade Options
Keyboard & Touchpad
Instead of starting with the keyboard, let’s cover the touchpad first since there is quite a bit to say about it. If you’ve read our previous notebook reviews, you’ll be well accustomed to our hate of buttonless trackpads and the one used on the Zenbook doesn’t improve our opinion of them by one iota.
While the surface ASUS used provides just the right amount of friction of accurate use and all of the usual commands (pinch to zoom, two finger scrolling and so on) work well, its two integrated buttons are annoyance incarnate. Due to the touchpad’s rocker-style design necessitated by the left and right nature of these buttons, you’ll constantly find yourself clicking on the wrong one, or both at the same time. The problem here is a complete lack of tactile feedback which results in missed inputs and shoddy input tracking. Granted, using a pair of physical, separated buttons would have taken away from the Zenbook’s sleek looks but we would have much preferred a small lapse in aesthetics over this design.
The UX-31 uses a chiclet-style keyboard that features well spaced keys and an excellent layout. It isn’t often that we come across a 13.3” notebook that doesn’t at least make a few concessions in this area in order to keep the keyboard within its limited constraints. The Zenbook’s function keys have been downsized but we were pleasantly surprised with the scale of the spacebar, enter and shift keys in particular.
While the layout may be one of the best we’ve seen, the Zenbook certainly isn’t the easiest notebook to type on. The keyboard has serious issues registering inputs if you don’t hit the keys hard enough and its feedback is next to nonexistent. This will be a huge issue if you tend to touch-type and forget about effort-free writing as writing this review felt like chore rather than an enjoyable experience. Due to space constraints, it isn’t backlit either.
We can’t recommend the UX-31 for anyone that composes long dissertations but most of these issues are likely due to the limited depth the keyboard is given to work with. With such a slim design, something had to be sacrificed and in this case, key throw distance was cut down to nearly unacceptable levels. With that being said, this Ultrabook’s keyboard shows a distinct lack of flex and even though aluminum was used, your palms will stay firmly planted in their typing position.
Unfortunately, due to the UX-31’s near seamless construction, getting access to its internals is nearly impossible without damaging the exterior finish. There are a number of screws spread around the corners but after those are removed, getting the upper and lower casings to separate is a job best left to a professional service technician.
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