ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A

Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica:

The 1920×1080 matte IPS display is undoubtedly the Prime’s strongest point, and it’s an oasis in a desert of 1366×768 garbage dumped on the market by every PC maker in existence—other Zenbook Prime models with 1366×768 and 1600×900 panels exist, but if you stick to the UX31A series (and not the UX31E or UX32VD) you can safely avoid both the inferior display […]

Great, but not perfect:

[…] our review unit had noticeably uneven lighting around the edge of the panel, especially at the bottom. This is really only noticeable when the panel is black or dark, but it’s significant enough (and the screen is otherwise excellent enough) that it bears mentioning.

LEDs emit a cone of light and if not properly diffused will result in uneven light pockets. This is easier said than done; I recently received an iPhone 4S from a friend and even it has some uneven light pockets, especially when the LCD is white, on the top edge of an otherwise perfect display.

The ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A is not perfect, but better than the MacBook Air:

[…] the screen is one of the all-too-rare instances where one of the PC OEMs beat Apple at its own game.

The 13.3-inch MacBook Air sports a 1440×900 pixel format good for a resolution of 128 ppi. That’s not terrible, but clearly not the best.

Update 2012.08.28: Jarred Walton at AnandTech analyzed the display and result is the UX31A kicks butt.

  • Contrast Ratio: 1085:1
  • Brightness (white): 401 nits
  • Brightness (black): 0.37 nits
  • Delta E: 1.94
  • Color Gamut: 80% AdobeRGB 1998

Let’s put these numbers into context. That 1085:1 contrast ratio. I’ve never heard of a notebook PC scientifically measured to have a contrast ratio above 1000:1. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) A high contrast ratio doesn’t necessarily mean contrasty because it’s easier to jack up white brightness levels than to reduce black brightness levels. A display with really bright whites and washed out blacks might end up having a higher contrast ratio than a display with considerably less bright whites but deep dark blacks. The UX31A is, fortunately, in the later camp. Combined with a matte surface the white brightness of 401 nits makes it usable in direct sunlight. The UX31A black level is 0.37 nits, falling only and just behind the HP Envy 14 Spectre. The result is a contrasty display that’s bright enough outdoors with deep blacks in dark environments.

A word about the 80% AdobeRGB 1998 color gamut:

That gamut actually isn’t quite right, though—the gamut is wider than AdobeRGB in some areas but less in others, so if you’re working within the AdobeRGB color space it’s more like 67%. If you’re serious enough about color accuracy that you have the necessary hardware and software for calibrating your laptop, you may not be completely satisfied with the UX31A’s display, but you’ll really have to spend a lot of money to find a better laptop LCD (e.g. the $500+ LCD upgrades found on high-end mobile workstations).

The color gamut is not quite good enough for color professionals, but one of the best for the rest of us.