I’m a sucker for compact gadgets. No matter how powerful the tech, if it isn’t well-designed and portable enough, it’s a hard pass from me. I’m guessing most of you reading this might share the same sentiment, especially if you find yourself commuting or travelling often with a laptop on hand. Imagine my joy then, when I unboxed the latest iteration of the ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED (UX5304) to find a sleek, wafer-thin laptop ready to be my desk buddy for the weeks ahead.
I love the departure from last year’s plain Jane non-design on the cover. This year’s upgrade sports a rather futuristic industrial design language with a ceramic-like texture on the “plasma ceramic aluminum” lid, zig-zagged with sharp lines cutting across.
The laptop is one of the lightest in the market. It weighs only 1 kilogram, and is super thin at 1 cm when shut close. However, when you open it, the 13.3-inch OLED display somehow feels bigger than its real size as it is maximised in a nice way.
With a 60 Hz refresh rate, the unit isn’t really amped up for gaming. However, the visual experience of browsing websites, reading e-books, catching up on news and streaming Netflix or YouTube videos was smooth enough.
The display has a 2,880x1,800 resolution and a 16:10 aspect that is ideal for browsing and general productivity. The Zenbook S13 offers a peak brightness of 550 nits and isn’t annoyingly reflective, despite lacking a matte screen.
The Harman Kardon speakers seem to be the standard-issue set on most ASUS laptops from last year. Not underwhelming, but they are loud enough, without letting in much distortion.
When I started responding to mails, I realised the prop-up angle on this laptop is quite pleasing—neither negligibly low nor too uncomfortably high. My wrists rested well on the empty space on either side of the trackpad, with the rising angle of the keyboard making for an optimal typing experience, even on long days. The chiclet keys offered satisfactory travel. The spacious trackpad was sensitive on an otherwise compact laptop.
The unit I reviewed was powered by 13th Gen Intel Evo Core i7-1355U processor. It had a 32 GB RAM, with Intel Iris Xe graphics.
This allowed me to juggle everyday productivity tasks with ease; however, it may not be ideal for intense media creation tasks such as editing videos, working on high-resolution photographs, or creating powerful animations.
Connectivity ports cover a wide range of needs. On the left, you will find two Thunderbolt ports and an HDMI port. On the right, there’s the audio jack and an USB A 3.2 port. The only thing I find myself missing is a card reader, especially when I need to transfer photographs taken with a DSLR.
Buyers have the option to choose between two storage options: 512 GB and 1 TB, as well as two RAM options: 16 GB and 32 GB.
The Zenbook S 13 OLED features a full-HD Infrared camera that works impressively fast in unlocking the system.
The laptop offers a range of embedded functions for video calls. The lighting correction feature effectively enhances the frame’s exposure, while the gaze correction feature works remarkably well. However, the motion tracking feature can become slightly disorienting if you tend to move too much towards the side of the frame.
With a 63 Wh high-capacity battery, the Zenbook S13 OLED (2023) lasted little longer than last year’s variant.
While re-watching a couple of episodes of House, M.D., responding to emails, attempting to finish this copy, and getting occasionally sidetracked by numerous hyperlinks, the ZenBook S 13 OLED proved to be a reliable companion, providing approximately 8 hours of battery life before requiring a recharge.
With the 65W AC adapter, the unit takes just about an hour to charge up fully from zero.
In addition to its svelte appearance, the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED exudes a sense of sturdiness. According to ASUS, it has undergone rigorous military-grade testing including assessments for shock resistance, temperature endurance, humidity resilience, and more. Only a couple of things come to mind as drawbacks in this device. While the cover lid isn’t exactly a smudge magnet, it’s fairly difficult to completely wipe clean fingerprint marks it has. More importantly, although a premium device, it’s not an ideal candidate for media-heavy multitasking. However, with the latest iteration of Zenbook S13, ASUS has successfully improved upon an already impressive device and managed to make it oodles better!
Price: ₹1,28,990 onwards
Pros: Amazingly lightweight, premium build, long battery life, great OLED display
Cons: Speakers could be punchier and they are not ideal for multimedia creators and editors