Thursday, September 1, 2016
ASUS unveils the Zenbook 3; essentially a Macbook running Windows 10
Asus unveiled its new ZenBook 3 earlier this year and it made headlines for being thinner and lighter than Apple's new MacBook. Unveiled today at IFA in Berlin, and it's clear this is literally a Windows-powered MacBook. If it wasn't for the Asus logo and brightly colored exterior, it would be pretty hard to tell the two apart.
Both the MacBook and ZenBook 3 use a single USB Type-C port and a headphone jack, and no other ports. Even the keyboards are similar and shallow, although Asus claims it has better travel than the MacBook. I didn't really notice that during my limited testing, and the keyboard just felt as mushy and weird as the MacBook's. There are some pretty big differences inside, though. Asus has opted for the latest 7th generation Core i7 chips inside its ZenBook 3, which means it's going to perform better than the Core m7 found in Apple's latest MacBook. Asus hasn't released exact specs yet, but the demo unit I tested was running at 1920 x 1080, so Apple's 2304 x 1440 panel on the MacBook definitely beats the ZenBook 3 on paper. That aside, you can configure the ZenBook 3 with up to 16GB of RAM, and it weighs just two pounds and is 11.7mm thin.
Asus also unveiled a new trackpad on the ZenBook 3 today, and it integrates a fingerprint reader that's compatible with Windows Hello. That means you can rest your finger on the reader and use it to log into Windows 10, websites, and apps. Acer has also experimented with integrating a fingerprint reader into its new Swift 5 laptop trackpads, so we might be about to witness a trend of this integration from laptop makers in the coming months.
Asus dedicated a lot of stage time today to comparing its ZenBook 3 to the MacBook and MacBook Air, noting that it was faster, thinner, and lighter than both models. A variety of Windows OEMs now produce laptops that are far more powerful than Apple's MacBook air with better designs and specifications. It's clear that Apple is lagging behind with its laptop range, especially the MacBook Air that was once considered the best in its class. With Windows laptop makers already ahead, all eyes are now on Apple's media event next week to see if the company is ready to unveil its new range of MacBooks.
Asus is planning to release the ZenBook 3 soon, priced at $2,220.99 for the top Core i7 model.