ASUS Zenbook UX21 and UX31 headed to the US October 12, starting at $999

Back in May, when we first got hands-on with ASUS' UX21 and UX31 laptops, it was to be one of our first encounters with the kind of ultrathin PC that Intel's now marketing as Ultrabooks. Since then, a lot's happened -- we've seen a handful of similarly skinny notebooks, with Acer's Aspire S3 beating them all to market. Now, more or less on schedule, ASUS is ready to follow suit. The company just announced that its line of Ultrabooks -- make that Zenbooks! -- will go on sale in the US tomorrow, October 12, starting at $999 for the 11.6-inch UX21 and $1,099 for the 13.3-inch UX31. That's a hundred bucks more than the S3, but then again, that guy has an HDD combined with a small amount of flash storage.

If you'll recall, they weigh in at 2.4 pounds and 2.9 pounds, respectively, and thanks to those aluminum alloy bodies, glass trackpads and all-metal keyboards, they just happen to be two of the finest-looking Ultrabooks we've seen to date. Other specs include 4GB of RAM, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, a SATA III SSD (starting at 128GB), stereo speakers with Bang and Olufsen's ICEpower technology, ultra low voltage Core i5 and i7 processors and a two-second resume time -- the same claim Acer's making with its Aspire S3. While the 11-incher has 1366 x 768 resolution, the 13-inch model steps up to 1600 x 900. And when it comes to battery life, the UX21's rated for five hours of runtime (or seven days), while the UX31 lasts a longer seven hours (or ten days) on a charge. Oh, and they come with a free sleeve. Not too shabby.

All told, there will be two UX21 configurations and three UX31 models, with the highest-end UX31 fetching $1,449 and packing 256GB of solid-state storage. You heard the company -- these are landing tomorrow -- but until then feel free to revisit our hands-on for your requisite close-up shots and video.

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ASUS Unveils the ZENBOOK™
Chairman Jonney Shih introduces the latest in Ultrabook technology and design with the ASUS ZENBOOK™ that features a perfect blend of elegance and power

Manhattan, New York (October 11, 2011) ― ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled the long-anticipated ZENBOOK™ that fuses masterpiece design and incredible performance at a global launch event in New York along with Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sales and Marketing Group, Tom Kilroy. The "Ultra Era" event opened with a vivid, yet tranquil dance to Moon Water featuring a performance artist from the internationally renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. The performance set the tone of the event, to display that the ASUS ZENBOOK™ is designed to be effortlessly enjoyable without compromising on performance. It exudes the perfect balance of elegance and power in an Ultrabook.

Mr. Shih then introduced four key incredible principles that guided ASUS' development team during the ZENBOOK™ design phase.

Pure Design – Art melds seamlessly with technology upon viewing the ASUS ZENBOOK™. The silver exterior panel features a concentric circle design that refracts a halo of light that excites the senses. With a thickness of 0.11" at the front and 0.67" at the rear, the ZENBOOK™ UX21 exterior lines are sleek, making it the thinnest Ultrabook on the market and perfect for users constantly on-the-go, in the classroom or relaxing at home.

Unrivalled Performance – The ZENBOOK™ is designed with an instant-on feature that resumes the system in about 2 seconds* and features incredible standby times up to ten days*, which is four times more than the industry standard. Although svelte and sleek, the ZENBOOK™ packs an impressive and uncompromising list of technological breakthroughs. It uses the latest Intel® 2nd generation Core™ processors (optimized for mobile use), SATA Revision 3.0 solid state storage (SSD), Bluetooth™ V4.0 and USB 3.0. ASUS has also added USB Charger+ technology, which uses the powered USB 3.0 port to recharge portable devices in a fraction of the time it would normally take. To accommodate all of these technologies, ASUS engineers designed custom cooling technology using a V-shaped channel with a unique copper fin design for improved airflow and cooling. When battery life dips below 5 percent, the ZENBOOK™ will automatically save files in progress to prevent data loss.

Incredibly Green - The ZENBOOK™ provides its users a peace of mind in knowing that they are consuming less energy. It utilizes ASUS' patented Super Hybrid Engine II technology, which intelligently conserves battery life and allows the ZENBOOK™ to have up to 25% more battery life* than other Ultrabook designs.

Transcending Audio - Recognizing that an Ultrabook is not only a tool for work, but also for entertainment, each ZENBOOK™ is equipped with ASUS SonicMaster technology, an optimized fusion of hardware and software developed by the ASUS Golden Ear team and Bang & Olufsen ICEpower®. SonicMaster provides a wide sonic spectrum surround sound that can fill a room with smooth jazz or the tranquil sound of a mountain stream.

Leading Technology Partnership - Intel's Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sales and Marketing Group, Tom Kilroy, expressed his excitement that Intel contributed the incredible processor technology for ASUS's groundbreaking masterpiece.

"Today's introduction of ASUS ZENBOOK™ is a vivid proof that Ultrabooks are ushering in a fundamental transformation of personal computing," said Mr. Kilroy. "In the few months since Intel first unveiled this new type of device, ASUS has delivered an amazingly light design powered by the visibly smart performance of the second generation Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors. It's packed with the security, responsiveness, and other exciting features, that deliver on the promise of the Ultrabook, to offer the most complete and satisfying computing experience."

The ZENBOOK™ will be available for order in North America starting on Oct. 12, with prices starting at $999 (suggested MSRP).