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My old Acer S7 laptop has been going strong for almost 7 years. It was thin and light enough that I would bring it along with me on all my travels both locally and around the world. Functionally, everything about it still works when connected to my large 32" monitor. However, I began to notice some subtle signs of potential hardware issues, such as the random shutoffs when not connected to a power outlet. So even though it's still functional as a desktop, I decided to purchase new laptop that I could carry around the house and use as an actual laptop.
Why I'm Not Considering a Dell
I've generally been a fan of Dell laptops, but my previous experience with the Dell XPS 13, only abouth 3 years old, has caused me to lose all faith in their consumer brand. The first problem I noticed was the space bar did not always register a click, especially when pressed from the left or right side. Given the heavy usage on the space bar when typing, that was super annoying! The latest thing I noticed was a bulge along the keyboard, which I suspect is some sort of battery expansion, also not great. Given the the Dell XPS 13 is extremely light, I suspect some of the weight loss comes from the plastic casing. The Acer S7 was mostly metal and lasted forever, and so I wanted a metal build, which gives it a more high end look and feel with the added durablility.
Why the ASUS Zenbook 13
There were a few things I knew I wanted in a new laptop that are based off my previous laptop purchases:
- It must have dedicated FN (F1 thru F12) buttons: For whatever dumb reason, my old Acer S7 had the FN buttons shared with the numbers. So the "1" key shared the same physical button as "F1". It such a habit for me to use Alt F4 (now Alt FN F4) to close windows or F5 (now FN F5) to refresh a browser webpage. The function keys should also be lockable so they either always function as F1 or some other feature.
- It must have a Webcam above the monitor: Again, this was a mistake I learned when I purchased the Dell XPS 13. Joining a Zoom meeting where the camera is below the monitor does not make for a great angle. No amount of positioning can help, as if the monitor is pointed too far down, the webcam (at the bottom of the screen) will begin to pick up the keyboard.
- 16 GB Memory: My old machine had 8GB which was great for a laptop 7 years ago. But for this machine to last the test of time, I think having 16 GB will be far more ideal, especially since many of the thin light laptops have soldered memory which cannot be upgraded.
- 512 GB SSD: Again, nobody should ever purchase a laptop or desktop with a HDD as the primary drive. The OS will run so much faster on a SSD that its worth the upgrade. I'd only use HDD for file storage. But since I run large applications like Visual Studio and SQL Server, it's worth it to have that extra space.
I'm always out for a good deal, so when I found this Open Box deal from Newegg, I had to purchase it. I've wanted a Zenbook for the longest time. I knew I was taking a chance with Open Box, I just couldn't pass up the gamble for a Open Box ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Durable Laptop 13.3" FHD WideView, Intel Core i7-10510U, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB PCIe SSD, NumberPad, Windows 10 Pro - UX333FAC-XS77, Royal Blue for $594.99 + tax. The included everything I wanted, plus more including a Intel Core i7 10th Gen (I would have been happy was an Intel Core i5 10th Gen) and Windows 10 Pro (was expecting Windows 10 Home).
What to Like About the ASUS Zenbook 13
Like any new purchase, there's tons of love about a machine. It's a great size, which makes it easy to carry around. The keyboard works perfectly, including the space bar. Aside from the points already covered above, here are some additional details of the ASUS laptop that have surprised me:
- The power button is located on the keyboard (right above backspace): In my opinion, this is a better position for the power button instead of on the side. I can't count how many times I've accidentally powered off my old Acer S7 while trying to plug in a USB device. No more accidental shutoffs!
- Windows Hello: I never thought I'd be praising Microsoft, but in combination with the built-in IR camera, logging into the machine is so fast and easy! No more remembering passwords. This was definitely not an option on my prior older laptops that lacked the IR webcam.
- Perfectly tweaked opening mechanism: Some laptops when closed are very tight. They sometimes require two hands to open... one to hold down the bottom and one to lift the screen. However, when the ASUS Zenbook is on the desk, simply use one hand to lift the monitor with ease!
What to Dislike About the ASUS Zenbook 13
As much as I like the ASUS Zenbook 13, there are some downfalls I have noticed. Some of these issues have a bigger daily impact, but I would consider these downsides nonetheless.
- Tiny right Shift button: The shift buttons are generally wider keys, though not as long as the space bar. For whatever reason, the left shift key is the expected width. However, the right shift key is the size of normal letter keys. As such a commonly used button, I'm surprised they would mess with those dimensions. After searching around, I see that the ASUS Zenbook 14 has the correct size shift button. I'm hoping this is just a learning curve.
- Trackpad num pad useless: In descriptions and photos, having a numpad built into the trackpad sounds awesome. In exection, pressing those buttons is more difficult than physical buttons. I probably wouldn't ever use it (ie during tax time), but it doesn't hurt just to ignore it either.
- Webcam colors feels washed out: For whatever reason when compared to my 7 year old Acer, the colors of the built-in webcam on this ASUS laptop feels very washed out.
- Fingerprint Magnet: When closed, the laptop has a very premium look and feel. However after a few days of usage, the fingerprints start to appear all over the top.
My hope with this ASUS Zenbook 13 is that it lasts for at least 7 years again. I probably won't be doing as much travel, now that I have a young infant at home, but I'm sure it'll get much more use around the house as compared to sitting on a desk 100% of the time at home.
And because this was an Open Box item, I hope that nothing goes wrong with it. I'm putting the computer through some fairly high usage in the beginning to make sure nothing is critically wrong, but Newegg has always been a great website for me to purchase my electronics.