For a tried and true Apple Fanboy this is quite an interesting blog post to write.

As I sit here with my trusty MacBook Air in my backpack, my iPhone and Venti Latte – which are all the signature weapons of choice for many of us in digital publishing; I am also crafting this post on an Asus Zenbook running…Windows 7!! I hope I don’t get struck by lightning!

Now, before you hang a “hypocrite” or “fairweather fan” sign over my head, let me explain.

I was recently at CES in Vegas. I attended the Intel press conference as they were announcing the IvyBridge processor, the new Ultrabooks that were being released to the market soon, and the marketing campaign that was going to start blasting across the airwaves.

At the end of the presentation – which actually was quite different that a typical Intel press event – since there was less talk about the speeds and feeds, but more talk about the overall experience and consumer application of systems running on the Intel technology – GREAT change, and very refreshing to hear. Anyways, at the end of that presentation, 50 of us lucky attendees had a surprise taped to the bottom of our seats – a brand spankin’ new Intel powered Ultrabook. I was one of the Fortunate 50 and walked out the door with an Asus UX31E Zenbook.

Asus Zenbook UX31E

I won’t talk specs too much, because that’s boring, but I will say the i5 processor, the SSD drive, and the banging (pun intended) Bang & Olufsen integrated speakers, make this laptop a really compelling 2nd system to my MacBook Air.

I promised Intel that I would write a post highlighting my user experience with the Ultrabook. I think the best response I can give is that, literally more than 70% of my computing time, since receiving the laptop has actually been on the Ultrabook. Look at the side view image above – at only 3mm in the front and 9mm height in the back – that’s really slim by the way, and a significant factor in getting someone finicky as I am to begin using the system.

The ASUS Zenbook UX31E Ultrabook

The ASUS Zenbook UX31E Ultrabook (Photo credit: HighTechDad)

I’m an Apple person, as I mentioned above, and any device I use has to be aesthetically pleasing as well. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to work, play or utilize a clunky and heavy system that feels and looks like a brick. This Zenbook passes those tests as well. I won’t give their names (protecting the identity of my focus group), but a number of other Apple aficionados have also given the Zenbook the thumbs up.

Recently I had the distinct privilege of going to the Intel campus in Folsom, California and speaking directly with the Learning and Development team that is responsible for creating training content for sales reps and partners that are pushing the Intel brand. I was invited to speak about how the Ultrabook ended up in my hands, what that whole initial experience was like, what I liked and maybe didn’t like about the unit. But specifically, the team wanted to hear about my overall user experience and would this Zenbook become a primary system for me, since I told the team I was an Apple man.

My response to the team was mixed. The technology inside, built and powered by Intel is fantastic. The speed of the processing and the fact that actions can be processed on the CPU instead of being pushed to disk or even to RAM – that’s awesome; definitely decreases processing time when doing high resource computations – like anything created by Adobe. The USB 3.0 ports

My statement of concern to the team was “Does Intel have the influence to control the end product that comes from the manufacturer?” More specifically, get rid of the trial versions of software that come pre-loaded (we’re just going to uninstall all of them anyway), also change the plastic, or whatever the material used by some big manufacturers – it’s all about unibody aluminum and Gorilla Glass these days.

Asus Zenbook UX31E SpecsThe response I received back was admirable from the representatives at Intel, in summary, they’re staying in their lane – focusing on the speed, performance, connectivity, and battery conservation aspects of the components they create, and making those better each and every time. Outside of that, OEM manufacturers bold on a case, screen and keyboard. I’m good with that.

So after 2 months of ownership, the Asus Zenbook has a special place in my collection of computer hardware. Yeah it’s nice that it’s a $1300 sexy, fast laptop that I got for free. But beyond that, it’s a functional system that does what I need it to do without compromise.

Whoa, did I just call a Windows 7 laptop sexy?