Keyboard and touchpad
Looking at that flawed gem of a display, you might be hard-pressed to notice the keyboard and touchpad underneath. They're there, and these components are almost as important as a good LCD panel when you're on the road. I know some folks carry around their own Bluetooth mice, but this is 2012, and notebook touchpads really should be good enough for use as primary pointing devices.
Oh boy, stickers! Apparently, Intel needed not just one sticker to pimp the Core i5 processor, but also another one to confirm that, yes, this is an ultrabook. At least the stickers sort of match the brushed aluminum palm rest.
The keyboard looks a bit different from the one Asus featured on the original UX31. Gone are the fake-metal keys, which were really plastic with a silver coating. In their place are black chiclet keys with rounded corners, which you may have seen on... uh, just about every other notebook on the market, including Apple's MacBooks.
Asus has also added some nifty LED backlighting under the keys. You can hit Fn-F3 and Fn-F4 to cycle between the four backlighting settings: bright, brighter, brightest, and no backlighting at all, for when stealth is paramount.
|Total keyboard area||Alpha keys|
|Size||276 mm||110 mm||30,360 mm²||170 mm||50 mm||8,500 mm²|
|Versus full size||96%||100%||96%||99%||88%||87%|
The keyboard's dimensions compare quite favorably to our non-chiclet reference. The alpha keys are admittedly not quite as tall, but they're just as wide, and they don't feel cramped by any stretch of the term.
More importantly, this keyboard feels good to type on. There's a teeny little bit of flex in the center, but not a lot. The fact that the keyboard backplate is part of the same piece of carved aluminum as the rest of the body goes a long way. The keys have a nice, distinct bump to them, even if they they don't feel quite as crisp as the ones on Apple keyboards.
The Zenbook Prime's touchpad has a nice, broad surface area, and it offers full multi-touch input capabilities, so you can pinch, rotate, and swipe to your heart's content. The driver software even lets you swipe down with three fingers to show the Windows desktop. Repeating the gesture backards unhides the windows. Nifty.
While we had some issues with the Zenbook UX31's touchpad last year, the Zenbook Prime's touchpad is much better-behaved. The tap-to-click functionality is a tad oversensitive, but other than that, we encountered no problems. My only other gripe is that the tracking surface is slightly too tacky, so my finger sometimes skips across it rather than gliding smoothly.
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