Asus Zenbook 13 OLED (UX325EA) Review: Feature Packed, Affordable and Powerful.

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Finding an OLED laptop with an impressive battery life at under KSh200 000 sounds like an impossible task. Yet, ASUS has delivered the all round spectacular ZenBook 13 OLED. We have come to rely on Asus to deliver affordable laptops packed with top specs. This Zenbook is no exception.

Unboxing the device was an experience in itself. The box comes with the laptop, a 65W type C charger, sleeve, USB C adapter for audio cables and a USB to Ethernet adapter. That’s pretty much every accessory you’ll ever need!

Onto the laptop itself.

Appearance

As is the standard for all Asus Zenbooks, the lid features the unique Zenbook concentric-circle finish which results in a soothing and sophisticated appearance. You get two colour choices, Pine Grey and Lilac Mist. Both are easy on the eye. The diamond cut alloy on the chassis and lid contribute to the lightweight design of the laptop. At a mere 1.14kg and a side profile of 13.9mm, this laptop is both sleek and easy to carry.

At this lightweight, the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED still manages to  meet the ultra-demanding MIL-STD-810G U.S. military standard for reliability and durability.

Opening the lid reveals a 4-sided NanoEdge design screen. The bezels are super thin as customers have come to expect of all premium gadgets. You are getting 13.3 inches of OLED HDR display that supports 1920 x 1080 resolution and 0.2ms response time!

Display

The display is outstanding. Everything looks crisp and vibrant – even within darker content. A 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, which can support up to 400 nits of highlight brightness and 0.0005 nits of deep black brightness, made everything we watched appear brighter and more detailed.

Furthermore, the display offers an ultra wide color gamut of 100% DCI-P3 and the unique ASUS OLED panels are calibrated to accurately reproduce colors in a 3D color volume. This ensures all content is displayed accurately not just at full brightness but at any brightness setting.

This is great news for eye comfort: you can dial down the brightness, without losing contrast and color vibrancy, resulting in reduced blue-light emission.

Typing Experience

We were happy to see that ASUS has maintained the backlit keyboard. And, they have taken the keyboard design a step further. The ErgoLift design of the laptop results in the keyboard automatically tilting when the laptop is opened. Typing was more comfortable. The tilting also increases the ventilation space under the chassis for improved heat dissipation.

What stood out for us was the  exclusive ASUS NumberPad 2.0. This NumberPad 2.0 is an LED-illuminated numeric keypad integrated in the touchpad that makes up for the lack of physical numeric keypads in compact laptops.

A single-touch sensor at the top-right of the touchpad turns the NumberPad on and off, and a tap on the icon at the top left lets you choose one of two brightness levels. You can also swipe from the top left icon in any direction on the NumberPad 2.0 to activate the Calculator app on the main display.

The glass covering provides super-smooth and precise fingertip control with multi-touch gesture support. Preparing spreadsheets was actually enjoyable.

Battery Life

There isn’t a day that we have had to plug the laptops in for a recharge during working hours. You can easily carry out a full day’s worth of tasks on a single charge. The 67-watt-hour battery offers up to 13 hours battery life.  Additionally, when it is time to charge,  the fast charge function will charge the battery from 2% to 60% in just 49 minutes!

Another great feature is the USB-C® Easy Charge support. It means that   Zenbook 13 OLED UX325 can be used with a wide range of standard USB-C chargers (5V-20V). You can safely use airline chargers, portable chargers or power banks.

Webcam

Pre remote work, we didn’t care about the positioning of the webcam. Now with all the virtual meetings to attend, the general consensus is that a bottom-mounted camera can produce a very unflattering view of the face. Fortunately, ASUS has retained the top-bezel position for this Zenbook 13.

The ultrathin camera module has a four-element lens that produces sharper images and results in lower noise. The embedded advanced infrared (IR) camera features see-in-the-dark capabilities that enable fast, reliable hands-free face login with Windows Hello — even in dim environments.

In our line of work, we tend to work across multiple devices. File sharing can really become a tedious task. That’s why the Link to MyASUS feature on this Zenbook was a huge plus for us. This feature allows you to seamlessly share documents, urls and media from the laptop to connected devices with just a tap.

The best part is that the Link to MyASUS feature integrates the Zenbook with your phones. You are abIe to leave your phone in your bag and still enjoy full phone functionality using the PC’s mouse, keyboard, touch screen and audio system.

Performance

The Zenbook tore through my multiple Chrome tabs and several daily tasks without heating up. This speaks to both the power of the machine and the efficiency of the cooling fans. We tested out a few games on it too and even these went on without noticeable strain on the system.

The machine is powered by the latest 11th Generation Intel® Core™ processors with Intel® Iris® Xe graphics. Compared with the previous generation of processors, the 11th Gen Intel® Coreprocessors provides a better computing performance. You can now enjoy FHD gameplay at up to 60 fps with better battery life and mobility than previously possible.

Audio

A key distinguisher between premium and cheaper laptops is audio quality. The Zenbook had ticked a lot of boxes so we were really hoping it would pass the sound test too. And boy did it impress us!

ASUS partnered with audio specialist Harman Kardon to ensure the very best sound for all kinds of content.

The result is louder output volumes, richer depth and better surround effects compared to other laptops of a similar size.

We couldn’t help but notice that the mics are also noticeably better. ASUS has added AI Noise-Canceling Audio which allows users to hear and be heard clearly in any scenario.

We tested all four modes: Normal, Balance, Single presenter or Multi-presenter.  The Single Presenter mode stood out, when you select this, all ambient noise except human voices are filtered out.

Verdict

It will be difficult to find another laptop at the same price point that can rival the Zenbook 13 OLED UX325. ASUS has been generous with the capabilities they packed in this portable, sleek looking machine. We wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes their top selling Zenbook yet. The Asus ZenBook UX325EA i7 16GB 512GB and Asus ZenBook UX325 i7 8GB 512GB are available at Text Book Centre for Ksh.158,000/- and Ksh.140,000/-, respectively.

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