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Pros: In general, I found the UX305FA ZenBook to perform as one would expect from published specs and benchmarks, evaluated at length in formal online reviews. Which is to say: outstanding for a low power consumption, non-gamer laptop; a significant advance relative to even the best "Atom" series processors, heretofore common in small, lightweight systems. Asus ads claim nearly Core i5 class performance, and that may almost be true wrt some low end i5 systems. 8GB DDR3 and a 256GB SSD are more than adequate for any mobile/portable PC application/need I anticipate. However, as supplied, the SSD seemed less than ideally partitioned for common use: with a 96GB OS partition and 128GB set aside for user files; BUT with all user folders/libraries located, by default, on the (C:) system partition. Of course user library reorg is a simple matter, though not as simple as drag&drop or a single click. Nor are novice users alerted to the file-system organizational issue. There is a further 15GB Windows system recovery partition.
The 1/2 inch thick (overall, when closed), aluminum, fanless case seems barely larger than the minimum physical requirements to house a 13" HD IPS LCD screen plus an essentially full-sized, responsive laptop keyboard. The kb provides adequate though limited keystroke tactile feedback (of course there's simply no room for a separate numeric pad.) Truly outstanding mechanical design and construction, setting a new price/performance comparison benchmark; the aluminum chassis further serves to heatsink the fanless system.
The 13" full HD (1920x1080) IPS screen has a matte anti-reflection surface which seems effective under common lighting conditions; HOWEVER, max screen brightness is limited, a compromise to accommodate the remarkably low power budget. The audio components achieve arguably "reasonable" fidelity from miniature, internal, advertised "Bang & Olufsen" loudspeakers; however, no surprise, with very limited max volume. Headphones can play more loudly, testing Sennheiser Momentum (20 ohm), HD448 (32 ohm) and Velodyne (40 ohm) over-the-ear models; but be aware that, presumably as an ear-safety feature, Windows master volume is automatically lowered upon detection of headphone plugin, so just bump that back up if desired.
In addition to internal, dual-band WiFi, Asus supplies a small USB/Ethernet-J45 dongle. Paired with my N900 wireless router, UX305FA 2.4GHz WiFi yields low (2Mbps, or occasionally 10-12Mbps) network access, relative to various other PCs I tested concurrently, including an Asus T100A (which consistently attained 20Mbps.) The ethernet dongle occupies one of three UX305FA USB jacks; but Newegg sells a somewhat larger alternative, with RJ45 plus 3 USB3-hub jacks, which I've been using instead.
Cons: Asus registration popup nag dialog boxes are relentless, and lack a "remind-me-in-a-week" option. Nor is it explained by Asus that immediate registration will negate NewEgg retail purchase product return options.
Initially, I was unable to drive an external monitor in any fashion from the micro-HDMI port, getting only a dark screen (Asus advertises up to 4K external video capability.) Ultimately I discovered that manually setting the UX305FA's external video to 1920x1080 with 60p refresh would generate a stable, full screen display on my 4K/UHD auto-sync monitor. Intel's supplied HD Graphics 5300 driver/utility software didn't list 4K as a supported mode; and it may be that if you still have an obsolete HD monitor lying about, that may present no problem.
While investigating the external display problem, I discovered that I was unable to enter the UX305FA ROM-BIOS (currently v.206) by pressing the F2 key during POST (pre-boot), as described in Asus' current v.1.0 (9/2014) user manual. By Google search I learned from others that this has been a reported problem with other Asus Zenbook models running Windows 8, since 2013. But the suggested remedy (disabling Windows 8 "fast startup" feature) proved disastrous for me, leading to UX305FA boot times exceeding 5 minutes!!! Oddly, but happily, if/when choosing the Windows 8.1 "restart" option, rather than "shutdown", Windows docs assert that a system image "fast restart" file isn't created (I'm guessing that may be to allow for rebooting when loading/configuring system updates???) And I found that access to the UX305FA ROM-BIOS can be reliably achieved during POST with the F2 key, following Windows 8.1 "restart" (but in my experience NOT from a cold-start following Windows 8.1 "shutdown".)
Other Thoughts: The UX305FA ZenBook may be the best general use, small, lightweight, low-power (non-touch screen) laptop available today, certainly for its price. I also have a small, so-called 2in1, with both keyboard and 10" touchscreen, and had not become a touchscreen fan from experience with that. Nevertheless, after reflexively touching the much superior UX305FA display on occasion (of course to no effect), I do now find myself wondering if a touchscreen might be desirable after-all. But I'd say not at the cost of added weight or power consumption. The UX305FA ZenBook is nearly perfect as is.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: As a long time devotee of "affordable" hi-res PC displays, somewhat ahead of the common curve, the Acer B326HK 4K/UHD (3840×2160) 32" monitor now strikes me as the perfect product for its time of introduction (Q4 2014.) Offering a reasonably priced, quality 4K, IPS, 60Hz capable display, representing a historically heretofore unmatched performance/price benchmark that, in my experience, has worked flawlessly, despite current PC hardware limitations (i.e., with existing, carefully selected DisplayPort v1.2a video cards and cables.) Note that neither dual-link DVI, nor HDMI 1.4 inputs can supply the bandwidth required by 4K at 60Hz; but that's not Acer's fault (though some current alternative 4K monitor designs work around the bandwidth problem by simultaneous use of two cables/inputs to drive the display.)
Subsequent to my "blind yet hopeful," uninformed Black Friday purchase from NewEgg, B326HK technical evaluations have appeared online; thus I have here offered merely a few subjective remarks to elaborate on minor but significant, often overlooked points. Properly set up, with careful attention to video card and cable selection, it is an excellent monitor, offering outstanding performance for its retail discount price. My sample exhibits relatively little light bleed (characteristic of all LCD displays, unless you're blind), good color uniformity, viewing angles, and no dead or stuck-on pixels. I also approximately verified Acer's impressively low power consumption claims for a 32" display; finding my sample to draw 58 watts at full brightness, and 50 watts after personal adjustment (in years past, 32" displays could draw well over 100 watts, and felt like working in front of a radiant heater.)
Cons: Really none to speak of; though of course one can wish for HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.3.
I'm not a gamer, but realize that they have extreme refresh rate and motion display requirements which, notwithstanding G-sync, impose bandwidth requirements that currently make 4K res video a dubious proposition with virtually any present-generation monitor and video-card/cable. Happily for the rest of us, a relatively "affordable" high quality (IPS) 4K monitor is a godsend, too long in coming; and with the Acer B326HK in stock, there is no need for further delay. Of course 2015 will likely see competitive price cutting; as well as commercial introduction of even higher bandwidth HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.3, and 5K (5120×2880) res screens, each a worthwhile advance-- but IMHO, 4K at the performance/price level achieved in the B326HK is simply too useful today to hang back 'till spring, summer or next fall. And I say this as someone who, in retrospect, overspent last year on 27" WQHD (2560×1440) screens.
Other Thoughts: Individuals vary wrt both visual acuity and focus (i.e., preferred working distance.) My vision is neither outstanding nor much below normal. For extended viewing while working on a desktop PC (vs a phone or tablet), my preference is for a working distance of circa 2.5 to 3 feet. What I find is that, displaying a static, b/w (i.e., high contrast), single-pixel-checkerboard full-screen on the B326HK (such as with the FlatpanelsDK utility)-- I can just barely distinguish the granularity of individual pixels at a viewing distance of 3 feet, while at greater distance, even extreme contrast pixels blend, and the screen appears as if a smooth/uniform, 50% gray. Thus, I conclude that for my use at a viewing distance of 3 feet, the 32" screen size is an ideal match for 3840×2160 pixel display; i.e., without superfluous "wasted" pixel density, nor on the other hand, does the image suffer from noticeable pixelation. Your visual acuity and habits may differ.
Some criticize Acer's excellent, well engineered base for offering limited movement (i.e., with height and tilt adjustment, but lacking left/right in-base swivel and/or pivot to portrait orientation.) However, they fail to consider: 1) the unavoidable design trade-off of providing safe/stable support for a 32", 20lb screen, while limiting desktop footprint; and 2) money poured into a monitor's base is of no value whatsoever to the many purchasers who wish to supply their own mechanism for support. E.g., I use the excellent Newegg/Rosewill RHMS-13001, advertised for 27" max screens, yet well suited to the larger B326HK, still within the arm's 30lb max design load spec.
But the possible substitute base issue entails a further concern. Acer's B326HK base employs the monitor body's four 100x100 spaced VESA m4 threaded screw holes, instead of an excellent (though sometimes criticized) independent hook/flange engagement used on smaller Acer models. The attachment plate's screw holes are effectively countersunk, with the screws themselves consequently fairly short, circa m4x10. Of course it is crucial that overlong screws, which might bottom in the body's wells NOT be employed. However, with a thicker substitute mounting plate, in one hole the original screw would not tighten, and at first I thought that the hole threads had stripped-- but that was not the case. The problem was a slightly deeper offset, such that, combined with my thicker substitute plate, the original m4x10 screw was not engaging. This prompted me to examine the 3 other VESA attachment screws; with belated realization that although they had engaged adequately to "tighten", that was not by much. I solved the problem with m4x16 screws plus lock washers (after checking with the plate, not to bottom.) Although m4 screws seem thin and finely threaded to carry a 20lb load, there are four of them; and with commonplace monitor orientation (i.e., tilted slightly back) the load generates only a shear force. Overhead would
This review is from: Minisuit Keyboard Stand Case for Google Nexus 7 FHD 2nd Gen (2013)
Pros: I find this relatively inexpensive keyboard/case to greatly enhance utility of the Nexus 7 FHD (2013) tablet. Providing both a thin, lightweight physical keyboard (coupled by Bluetooth) and a protective leatherette case for both tablet and keyboard.
Cons: Of course, lacking a wired connection (for which the tablet has no provision) it is necessary to charge the keyboard separately. I have not yet run-down tested KB battery life, but it seems to be at least comparable to the tablet (providing circa 6-8 hrs use.) However, one uncertainty/worry I have is: how long will the battery retain a useful charge if/when you forget to turn the keyboard off after use? I haven't as yet checked.
Other Thoughts: Very nicely designed and put together.READ FULL REVIEW
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