Asus Zenbook (UX series) keyboard and other issues.

It is an awfully bad keyboard. This is the bare, unobjectionable truth; and you can really stop reading here, because what follows is only an explanation why.

As a professional, I’ve used many computers in my life, last generation ultrabooks included; and –in terms of typing experience– I’ve never come across any worse than the Zenbook’s keyboard. Honestly.
Its physical layout feels a bit odd, keys are too “spread out”, and often your fingers don’t “find” them (particularly the left shift). Also, the arrow keys are excessively small, uncomfortable to handle (I guess you can get used to this, but it adds to the odd feeling). Then, about the keys themselves, I don’t know the stuff they’re made of, but they don’t have a nice touch, and feel crappy quality. Also, they’re not ‘steady’: they react differently depending on which part of the key your fingers are pressing; and particularly the rectangular ones (enter or right shift) don’t generate a key event when pressed on the corners, despite giving you the keypress feedback. But the main issue is that, in general, you need to hit them hard to get a keypress: they remind of those little buttons in the first electronic calculctors from the 70’s. It’s almost impossible to not miss many keystrokes. Definitely you have to be more focused in the keyboard itself than in the text you’re trying to type. Very inefficient.
So, because all the aforementioned details, the typing experience is terrible: the antithesis of smooth.

On the other hand, the touchpad is a bit too wide and misplaced, and levelled with the palmrests, which makes it extremely easy to inadvertently touch it, with all its consequences: more often than not, you’ll delete the last two paragraphs you had been writing.

But mark!: we’re not talking here about a learning curve (as some reviewers call it). Of course you can always get used to the Zenbook’s keyboard, same as you can get used to sleeping onto a barbed-wire mattress or to riding Russian trains. But when you pay 1,000 for a top-notch ultrabook, you want a keyboard that feels comfortable from the get go. At the very least, not worse than the cheapest laptops in the market. In any case, you expect something much better than the Zenbook’s keyboard.

Before purchasing this computer I read endless reviews from professionals (who, I suspect, are paid to be as nice and ambiguous as possible) and user opinions: some of them saying the keyboard is excellent, some of them saying it’s “not so good”. Well… for the professional, I honestly don’t understand how on earth a good reviewer can state such a falsehood unless he’s paid for it: the Asus UX series keyboard (to be precise, I tried the UX31) can be anything except ‘excellent’. As for the user opinions, even a not so good would be an overestatement. If you normally do more than one hundred keystrokes a day, you get very frustrated with this keyboard.

For the rest, I don’t mind so much that the keyboard is not backlighted nor spill-resistant. For sure those are nice extras, but if you buy –for instance– a car, what would be the importance of an ultramodern infra-red view-mirror if then the car engine doesn’t start? So, when a keyboard doesn’t work, the rest of its features are totally irrelevant.
[EDIT] There’s a comment by MacGuiver on this article explaining a good ‘macguiverish’ fix for the keyboard. If you’re a handyman, give it a try!

This far the keyboard. Now, there are some other issues in the UX31 I’ll write here in order of relevance.

First, many models ship the low-performant Sandisk U100 SSD (in both 128 and 256 Gb versions) which, according to most reviews and opinions, is between 10 and 30 times slower than the Adata one. Mine had the 128 Gb Sandisk, and it certinly felt as slow as my old laptop’s 5,400 rpm HDD (though I can’t confirm numbers, as I haven’t performed any benchmark test).

Second, the trackpad is not very responsive, even after updating the driver. My unit shipped the (presumably better) Elan trackpad but, even after updating the driver, still wasn’t very usable. Tap-to-click randomly didn’t work: sometimes a slight tap would generate a click, sometimes a heavy tap wouldn’t. Two finger scrolling has an annoying kind of delay and, when the text actually starts scrolling, your fingers have already run out of trackpad. It’s not responsive. And three-finger gestures are definitely the worst of all: most of the times I had to swipe twice or thrice for getting the desired effect (show the desktop or swap pages). And it has no edge scrolling!, without which I can’t live.

Third: the cooling fan kicks in unnecessarily often. Even under very light use (only the web browser with one tab opened to a html-only content website), having the processor run at its lowest speed, being on battery saving mode and CPU temperature perfectly cool (38ºC), still the fan stubbornly kicks in for around 20 secs every two minutes or so, which in silent environments is extremely distracting; even more distracting than if the sound was constant, because, when the fan ‘knocks’ on your ears every two minutes to remind you it’s there, it finally gets into your nerves. I updated to the latest BIOS version, but nothing changed.

Fourth: it happened to me only once, but when booting Linux off a well tested live pendrive, the Zenbook suddenly switched off, and the system log registered “hardware failure” error types.

Fifth: there is an issue with the wifi (which can be solved with a driver update) that makes the data transfer very slow, and I’ve read some users reporting that the wireless connection switches off randomly. After the driver update, I didn’t experience this slowness any more.

Sixth, a design flaw: the Zenbook’s weight is so unwisely balanced that, when opened, it wants to fall backwards. So, if you put it atop your lap, it tends to tilt back, lifting its sharp and cutting front end that bruises your wrists; which (added to the bad quality of the keyboard) makes for a very uncomfortable and unnatural position of the hands.

Seventh: the euro power adapter doesn’t have the collapsible pins you can see in the photos of the USAn reviews, making it more bulky than you were expecting.

And all of this is a pity, because the Asus Zenbook could have been a competitors’ killer. Its 1600×900 screen is, to my taste, the best one in the ultrabook one thousand market: so bright and sharp, and giving the user so much screen real state that, despite the rest of the flaws, it was painful to return the laptop. But the keyboard killed me. No matter how terrific a screen, any user that needs to type several paragraphs a day can’t cope up with such an unusable piece of hardware. So, with tears in my eyes I had no option but to pack the thing again and take it back to the shop for a money refund.

Notice: I’ve written this review on your behalf and for Asus’ shame. You’re welcome to contribute to this thread, but please no community manager comments here saying that your unit works flawlessly, that some issue has been presumedly solved in the newest model, etc. If Asus cares for their customers, they not only have to solve the issues in future models: they also should offer free fix, or full refund, to the guinea pig buyers.

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79 Responses to Asus Zenbook (UX series) keyboard and other issues.

  1. Gonzalo says:

    Thanks for this review, I hear what you are saying. I had an HP pavilion for several years and decided to upgrade to an X53.
    – Immediately found the arrow keys to be an issue, as well as the right Ctrl key, which only responds perfectly to taps in the middle. Which are impossible given the Ctrl key is too closo to the arrow keys, and these are TOO SMALL. I miss keys all the time and have been trying for several days now to get used to.
    – Wireless shuts off randomly.
    – Backlit keyboard advertised with it doesn’t light up.
    – Screen is too heavy, you must open it with both hands as it will tilt back without opening if you just try to open the screen.
    – It overall doesn’t have a great handling feel (doesn’t feel like it performs like an i5 with 8GB Ram – Stalls and lags when rendering).
    I will probably return it in the next few days. Do you know what is the protocol for returning laptops?

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks for contributing. But are we talking about the same laptop? UX31 is the same as X53?
      As to returning it, I reckon it depends on the country. I’m in Spain, and it was very easy: just take it back to the shop in less than a week from date or purchase and, without any explanation, return the machine and ask for a return. For your information, recently I also returned a Toshiba Satellite R830 (for which I should write another review as well) that I bought online and, well, I had to interchange around thirty emails with the online shop, plus threaten them with a bad review, but I finally also got a refund. They sent the transport company to my home for picking the laptop up.

  2. abdobe says:

    Thank you for your review in regards to the degenerated keyboard. It’s so strange that Asus actually ended up with such a terrible keyboard on such a lovely machine. Everything is great with it, though I could whish for a less sensible touchpad, but this is not a major fault with the machine.
    I use touch when typing, as so many others, and as you say, I keep on missing entries as I type. I kept the PC since January, hoping it was all a matter of getting use to it and adapt my typing to the need of force, but it just don’t work.
    I called the service centre about the problem, and I was asked to send it in, as it’s within the guarantee time. They will try to change the keyboard. Hopefully there are better keyboards than the one I had. Unfortunately I guess they are all the same, so I expect the worst. It’s a difficult case since all the keys actually works. It’s the writing experience that sucks. I will come back with the result in a three weeks time.

    • The Pabster says:

      Thank you! Your feedback is very much appreciated, most of all because it confirms my “feeling” and makes me be more possitive about the objectivity of my “review”. It also makes me “congratulate” myself for having returned the laptop while I was in time for a full refund. It was very hard for me to give up such a lovely machine, but I had the premonition that I would not get used to it.
      Please comment again if they assemble a better keyboard to your laptop. Or any other matter about it.

  3. Rickard says:

    Spot on! i actually found your block googling for if there is any improved keyboard out there… i had to rewrite this simple comment numerous of times because of this crap keyboard, its simply not for use, it looks good, but the worst keyboard ive ever tried….
    and it makes my zenbook pretty much to work as a degraded to a spotify player….

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks! I’m as glad that my post is of any use to people as sad I am that Asus picked such a crappy keyboard for such a good machine. Idiots! How much would have costed them to ship an acceptable keyboard, and how many more laptops would they be selling?

  4. Luis says:

    I share your pain. The keyboard definitely sucks. I am still trying mine with the hope that it will get easier to use it. The wireless suffers from low strength when I use my home network. Finally, the touchpad is too much on its way when typing. Everything else is high performance.

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks for feedback. Glad to know others share my impressions about this notebook. Pity that the Asus crew will never read this posts and comments. 🙂

  5. Adriane says:

    I purchased an ASUS Zenbook one month ago and l love everything about it except the keyboard. It’s terrible! I cannot believe it made it through their testing process. With every sentence I type, there are letters missed or letters that suddenly insert themselves into sentences above or below where I am typing (it has happened 4 times already while entering this comment). I suppose I am off to buy an external keyboard at this point, but would love to hear whether ASUS offers up a new keyboard when the laptop is shipped back to them. Thanks for validating the problems I have been having!

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks to you for feedback! It’s always a pleasure to know that I’m not writing for nobody. 🙂

  6. Jeff says:

    I too have found this keyboard dreadful. t my place of employment we have two Asus Zenbook UX21E’s (the 11 inch one) and both have unacceptable keyboards. I found some success with the trackpad issue by updating the driver and turning off all the extra ‘whiz-bang’ features on multitouch and the like. This machine would be a real pleasure if not for the dreadful keyboard.
    I had hoped ASUS would address the issue somehow, but so far nothing. Meanwhile the new machines will be out in a few months with a new backlit keyboard.. I bet that one will also be more responsive, but we will not be able to get ours replaced.
    I have certainly learned my lesson about buying ASUS.

    • The Pabster says:

      A lesson for all of us. The problem is that there are no 100% reliable manufacturers. If they don’t cheat on you here, they cheat on you there. Perhaps the only “solution” to these issues is (at least in the countries whose legislation warrants this right to the buyers) to buy, try and return before the “trying period” expires, getting a full refund. That’s what I did with my Asus, fortunately. If the manufacturers got more returned items, they’d think it twice before shipping shitty components on their products.

  7. Kloonich says:

    Hi! Thanks for the review. After a few days checking the market for a new laptop I had just decided to by this ASUS … until now. I am a scriptwriter so the keyboard issue is pretty important.
    Now I would have to start again because my head is full of reviews and I´ve forgotten almost all the other candidates!
    Any suggestion for a laptop in that price range? I need HDMI 1.4 and doog graphics also (to connect it to my projector). I´d appreciate your advice!

    • The Pabster says:

      Unfortunately I ignore most of the laptop models out there in the market. I’m just a normal user writing some reviews for the hardware I have or had. After trying the terrible ASUS keyboard, I got a Toshiba Portégé Z830, with which I’m quite satisfied. The keyboard is not as good as the Macbook Air’s, but at least it has the (for me) essential PgUp, PgDown, Home, End, Insert and Delete keys. You can find my review of that laptop somewhere in my blog. It has HDMI 1080p output (I ignore if it’s 1.4, but I reckon it is, because this is a 2011 model, and 1.4 appeared in 2009). However, I don’t have a f…g clue about “doog” graphics. Haven’t heard about that in my life before. If it is some kind of special connector, then I can assure you that the Z830 doesn’t have it.

  8. ken says:

    I have 1 non-ultra version of asus lappy, and yes.. the keyboard is the worst thing !
    every sentence you typed, there will be at least 2 to 5 missing letters.
    going to sell !

  9. Meelis Karulin says:

    First, Sandisk U100 SSD.
    Ditto that, also writing or reading a large file from SSD hangs my UX31 sometimes and makes it unusable untill the file is complete.
    Second, the trackpad.
    I like the trackpad a lot actually, and you can adjust the dead-zone so you dont accidently click somewhere when typing. I found the smallest setting best.
    Third, the fan.
    The FAN on my copy is absolutely quiet! I can’t hear it when its running next to my bed touring the night on max performance.
    Fourth: Linux
    Linux has known issues with zenbooks, and even UBUNTU is still not 100% running without major tweaks, nerd knowledge and potential risk of corrupting your RAM.
    Fifth, Wifi
    Never had any wifi issues, even straight out of box.
    Sixth, weight and sharp edges
    I agree on the sharp edge, the screen is still much lighter than the base, thus “tilting” never been much of a problem.
    Ive been using UX31 for 4 months mostly for work and to be honest, if it had Apple quality keypad and exchangeable HDD, i wouldn’t say one bad thing about this computer and recommend it to everybody.

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks for your feedback, but… what about the keyboard? Remember that this post is mostly about the Zenbook’s (bad quality) keyboard. You don’t say a word on this issue. Does it imply that you have nothing to object to the keyboard and you find it a good one?
      About the fan: Maybe they’re shipping a more silent fan in the last units; or maybe I have better hearing sharpness than you, or I’m more paranoid about noise, or it doeesn’t bother you so much. These things are usuallly quite subjective. But the unit I tested was clearly audible in a silent environment (i.e., at bed time, in my silent bedroom, in a silent neighbourhood).
      About wifi: probably the last units ship the updated wifi driver, which works flawless.
      About the backward tilting: this is also quite subjective, and definitely it depends on how you hold the ultrabook on top of your lap. I always do it the same way (in bed, my back leaning on a thick pillow, my legs almost stretched) and, when comparing the Zenbook with the Toshiba Portégé z830 and with the Macbook Air, definitely I found the Zenbook unbalanced, tilting backwards much more than the others.
      What you mean with “keypad”? Ultrabooks don’t have keypad.

  10. Patrick says:

    I bought a Zenbook UX31 just 3 weeks ago and started using it. Guess what! The built-in keyboard recently developed a serious problem. Each time I hit the left or right “shift” key, some garbage symbols came out instead. After checking the drivers and setting, no solution could be found. I was advised by an IT professional to do a full system recovery in case it was a software problem. I did that and the same problem remains. We suspect it is a hardware problem and will have to send it to the service centre. I am very disappointed with this buy!!

    • The Pabster says:

      Strange. Have you tried googling that problem? Most people complain about the bad quality typing experience of this keyboard, but this is the first that I read about a real failure. Let’s see if someone else comes up with the same problem.

  11. philip says:

    I realize this is about the keyboard, but my biggest beef with my UX31 is the wobbly power lead. Getting it to recharge means constantly fiddling with the wretched thing. Am I alone, and any solutions? Thank you.

  12. Frode Nilsen says:

    Interesting read. Very appreciated. I have just bought a Toshiba Satellite Z830, which is Toshiba’s competor to the UX31. If you have tested this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on Toshibas keyboard compared to the Asus one. I *think* it is better – I’ve just tested the Asus one in the store, but the Toshiba I’ve now had for a couple of hours. Although they at first may seem a bit sluggish, when you first start typing I think you’ll find it very comfortable. I think I type as fast on my laptop as on my desktop computer.
    One important additional disadvantage to Asus that you for some reason don’t mention: It doesn’t have Page up, Page down or the Home key?? I can’t see it on any screenshots anyway (forgot to check while I was in the store). Any comment on this? You don’t use those keys much?
    Secondly, very interesting to hear about the fan noise problem, as Toshiba has the exact same problem. Or probably worse. See this Toshiba forum thread

    • The Pabster says:

      When I wrote this post, I was mostly interested in informing people about what people cannot see for themselves when looking at the pictures or reading other reviews; i.e., the bad quality of the keyboard. That’s why I didn’t mention the lack of the PgUp, PgDwn, Home, End, Ins and Del keys, as it’s something people can easily veryfy when watching any Zenbook’s image on the internet. But of course I use them! Actually a lot. And that’s also one of the reasons for neglecting this laptop in favour of others.
      As to the fan noise problem, totally agree. Toshiba’s case is much worse. It’s fan noise is way more annoying than the Zenbook’s. But I have already a fix for it. It turns out that I own the Z830 and have written a review in this same blog, here, where I comment on the keyboard as well.

    • Stephen says:

      I’ve got a UX31A, and the Home End PgUp PgDwn keys are the fn keys on the up down left right arrows.

      • The Pabster says:

        Thanks. Well, I know. But I mean dedicated keys. It’s quite tiresome to have to press Fn prior to those keys, at least for me.

  13. Shark says:

    Hi Pabster and friends here, I guess ASUS learn the lesson. I am now typing this remark on a new ZenBook UX32vd – A new model. The problem of difficult key registration is gone as I am typing this remark on the keyboard, no problem at all. And it has the best notebook touch pad I had handled ever except it is palm sensitive (see below).
    But some problems still remain unsolved:
    #1 Stupid Shared / Fn key arrangement – PgUp (Fn + Up Arrow) / PgDn (Fn + Down Arrow), Home (Fn + Left Arrow), End (Fn + Right Arrow) and even Insert (Fn + Delete). If you love working with mouse, that could be fine for you but if you are a keyboard lover like me, you are going to feel unhappy.
    #2 Static Electric on metal body – I feel it even in Summer. Don’t know what is going to happen in dry winter season, hem. I guess ASUS should include a power adapter with 3 pin power cable and that should solve all problem.
    #3 Touch pad too sensitive to palm – Perhaps the touch pad is simply too large, my palm had caused the cursor to go elsewhere. For your idea how series this problem is, it happened 5 times while typing this review.
    Additional Comment:
    If you don’t mind 300g heavier, the Samsung series 5 Ultra 14 inch have a much much better arranged keyboard with all independent PgUp / PgDn / Home / End / Insert / Delete. It has double HDD, double RAM and a DVD drive and still several bucks cheaper than the ASUS UX32vd but the touch pad coating is not as smooth as ASUS. Oh well, we can’t get everything – haha!

    • The Pabster says:

      Well, that’s good news. But I think Asus would have learnt the lesson only in the case that they refunded the money to the purchasers of the UX31, or offer them a keyboard substitution. 🙂 And, yet, we’re talking about a new model, the UX32. So the UX31 units out there in the market still carry the same shitty keyboard. Is Asus warning the customers to NOT buy any existing UX31? Still they’re quite dishonest.

      • Shark says:

        I agree with Pabster ASUS is dishonest or at very least inocnsiderate about customer’s feeling. If the UX32 can have a better keyboard, that means the problem is solvable. They should actively recall the UX31 and replace the keyboards and provide replacement to every customers that complain the problem. That is for sake of her own reputation and show her customer caring.
        Take the static electric feeling as example, I complained and the ASUS rep said it is normal and within standard limit. Jesus, WITHIN STANDARD LIMIT, then what about the discomfort feeling to the customer?
        The Samsung new Ultra-5 14-inch I mentioned above also have metal body but they supply a power adapter with 3 pin power cord connection. I tried plug in a similar voltage 2 pin power adapter for an earlier Samsung book and found exactly the same static electric problem. That means the problem is natural but can be taken care of. ASUS is just being inconsiderate about customer’s feeling.
        And do you know why I bought the Samsung? That is exactly because I have sensitive skin and do not want to live with the Static electricity. Sorry – Thumb Down ASUS even I love Taiwan 🙁

  14. Ronald says:

    I bought a Zenbook UX31 just 2 month ago, I am very disppointed with this ntebook. The keyboard is simply scrap! Because I was travelling I had no chance to make a return. So I’m stocked with this piece of scrp, I cnt sell it to nyone becue I wouldend feel good to sell scrap to someone. PS. I left the text s I wrte it on the Zen, with all the missing letters.

  15. Sven Meier says:

    > I cnt sell it to nyone becue I wouldend feel good to sell scrap to someone.
    I can feel your pain, the keyboard of the ux31e is just crap.
    The new keyboard is better.
    Watch out for blacklight bleeding though, ASUS still has a crappy quality control :(.

  16. Shark says:

    I noticed the back light bleeding too but this does not bother me much. What annoy me is the static electric feeling all over it’s metal body and ASUS refuse to address it. I agree ASUS should work harder on quality control and customer service.
    I want to try get my UX32vd an OEM power adapter with 3 pin power cable connection and see if I can get rid of the static electric feeling the same way Samsung does. I can’t explain why even I said the key arrangement is stupid, I am now getting used to it.
    FUNNY I saw some review said UX32vd have 1600 x 900 display but mine has only 1366 x 768. The display is comfortable to look at. Guess the reviews are quite crappy as well.

  17. grace says:

    I was googling the asus zenbk ux31 when i came across this blog. I have a very bad problem with my ux31 keypad where by it deosnt like to work everytime. It’s such that i am able to type in the url space but i cannot type anything on any webpage (comment, search bar etc.), and it happen for both google chrome and ie all the time. My only method of solving this is by restarting the laptop. I’m wondering if other users face this as well?

    • Robert says:

      I have the same problems with my keystrokes in the browsers. Sometimes i Cannon enter words in the browser. I am looking for a solution, but didn’t find any yet.
      PS i read a lot of reviews before buying The Asus UX31 and expected the keyboard issue was a little bit overdone. Unfortunately the reviewers were right. The keyboard sucks and it is hard to work with it.

      • The Pabster says:

        Well, in my opinion, in the professional reviews the keyboard issue is overly overlooked, rather than overdone. That’s precisely what I critizice. They don’t stress too much this problem, so to not prevent people from buying the laptop, thus making Asus happy and getting, perhaps, some reward from Asus: money, free notebooks, whatever. I’m suspicious, I’m sorry. 🙂

  18. fstarocka says:

    I bought this after reviewing them for a while. I am a Pc tech and can confirm the following:
    The keyboard sux. I program and mistype ALOT. I must add that I have improved the way i hit the buttons knowing this – so as much as I have worked around it, i do miss a few now and then. I can see this being aweful for new users.
    The trackpad issue is DEF a software issue. Once installed it stopped jumping aound. My GF almost threw it out the window!
    Update to the latest BIOS periodically – use the live update util for this – >>> BUT <<<
    ** INSTALL the asus ATKACPI driver ** – this is essential for MANY of the utilities / drivers to function correctly, incl the bios update.
    While there are def issues – many of them can be "fixed" by following some procedures. It took me a while to confirm this – which is bad design in my books, nonetheless should help alot of u out 🙂
    (3 errors typing this) 🙂
    Batt life, portability and (my) ssd drive is SUPER fast. I have BSOD issues with seeping. 3/5 times when i reume the system crashes. I have set to Hdd power off to never under power options as this might have caused it – to no avail.
    LOVE / (small hate)

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks for your contribution. Appreciated, like most others.
      HOWEVER, for the next time, could you PLEASE not write here like if this were a f…g teenagers chat, Whatsapp, SMS or the like? There is PLENTY of room. The number of characters is not limited, there is no need for misleading abbreviations and many people, including me, might not have a clue about what means “sux” “DEF” “GF” “incl” “batt”. I know it looks “cool”, or even “rocks”, to write like that; but in this blog we’re very classical. We don’t want to be cool, but rether provide useful information that can help others. Not confuse them.
      Sorry for this little sermon. 🙂

  19. Patricia says:

    I share everyone’s pain. Unfortunately, I don’t know a thing about updating BIOS or what the heck an ATKACPI driver is or anything like that. ASUS technical support is terrible. I do not trust Microcenter to know either. I feel I’m stuck with the keyboard issues. However, I do want to contribute a fix to the sensitive touchpad which causes you to highlight and delete whole paragraphs 🙁 Install freeware called Touchpad Blocker. Works like a charm.

  20. mb277 says:

    Hi there,
    i am wondering if it is possible to order the new black from Asus backlit keyboard of the UX31A and replace it into the UX31E modell to improve the situation?
    Does anybody have any ideas or comments on this?
    kind regards

    • The Pabster says:

      Well, my only comment would be: bad marketing practices should not be rewarded (by giving yet more money to the manufacturer).
      Of course, if you own a shitty-keyboarded UX31E and Asus don’t give you a refund, perhaps buying a new part to them is your only option; so, I couldn’t really object to it. But, just for the sake of fairness, allow me to state it clear and loud: Asus is not only selling a virtually defective product (yes, the keyboard is so bad that it can well be considered defective), but also, indirectly, forcing the customers into another purchase to them. Shame on Asus!

  21. Avi P says:

    Excellent review. It’s a shame that this almost-perfect notebook is marred by keyboard, trackpad, and dishonest marketing (RE: ssd). To those of you still considering the Zenbook, I highly recommend some retailer with an excellent return policy.

    • The Pabster says:

      Thank you!
      Fortunately, that’s what I did: to pick a shop with indisputable return policy. 🙂

  22. G (McGyver) says:

    Hi Guys,
    I’m just posting here to share my fix for the ASUS keyboard.
    I have a UX31e Ultrabook, and have been struggling with the keyboard for some time now, to the point of despair – I do techincal writing of my customers IT systems and it was getting really embarrasing with all the typo’s I was getting because of key depression.
    Well, after much research into replacing the keyboard, I came up with nothing until trying the following, as a last ditch to get it working as intended.
    My take on the problem:
    The key’s are set too low, and when pressing them, they hit the frame of the keyboard without getting the opotunity to fully depress the rubber onto the keyboard contact.
    The key arms (those white interlocking levers that support the keys on the rubber pad) are too flexible, and don’t keep the key straight to maximise the depression area of the rubber to the keyboard contact.
    Both these design flaws cause keys to miss contact and give unequal feedback depending on where you hit the key (i.e. at the edge or middle)
    So, the resolution:
    You can get as advanced as you like with the implementation, but it involves putting more space between the key and the rubber underneath the key.
    Step 1: Remove a key from the laptop (they just snap off quite easily). It should leave the lever arms behind with the rubber contact visible.
    Step 2: You will see a raised area under the key, it looks like a sun. This is the contact point of the key and the rubber.
    Step 3: You want to raise the surface of that sun area – I used blu-tac putty to hold a piece of gloss photo paper (about 3mm square) onto the area. I used a tiny bit of blu-tac, enough to cover the area of the sun bit, under the key to fit between the key and the rubber contact.
    Step 4: Snap the key back into place by simply putting it in place and pushing down, hearing the arms click in.
    Step 5: follow step 1-4 for every key you have a problem with – I did all my letters, the comma, space bar, ctrl keys and enter.
    Watch out for the space bar and enter key removal, it’s not too difficult but I’d advise against forcing too much. The key’s seem pretty strong.
    I used photo paper because it has some traction on the rubber under the key with it’s gloss, rather than general paper which was thiner, less rigid and perhaps more abrasive.
    You should notice the key being higher than the others and a bit firmer to the touch. When you press the key, you should also notice that it doesn’t hit the laptop frame and also feel more responsive and comfrotable, spongy, to type on.
    Now, I used blu-tac and paper in my makeshift fix, you could purchase some sticky tabs to put under they key, all you’re trying to do is raise the surface area of the contact point on the key and rubber by no more than half a millimetre.
    You will also notice that because you’re not bashing a key against a solid frame, your fingers won’t hurt as much after a lot of typing. This should not affect any warranty because the implemenation can easily be removed and doesn’t involve removing the casing or screws.
    Hope this help, it certainly has made a difference for me.
    Feel free to ask me anything on the implementation if something wasn’t clear or share your experiences.

    • The Pabster says:

      Great comment. You’re a fucking artist! I hope it will help someone.

    • Christian says:

      Hey McGyver, your fix works! I just modified my keyboard and there are still missing keystrokes, but obvious much less. I guess i can live with it, because i love the rest of the zenbook.
      Pabster, what about a link to Gs solution in the main post?
      Thank you guys

  23. Sarah says:

    Hi, I found this discussion while searching for ASUS keyboard issues. I bought an ASUS N53 notebook at the end of last year, and I’m having exactly the same problem. I’m normally a fast typist, but just about every third letter I try to type doesn’t appear, so I am constantly having to go back to rewrite words. I now focus almost entirely on the typing and not on the writing. It has really affected the way I interact with people online. I dislike even answering emails because of the time it takes to get anything typed.
    The thing is, what can ASUS do about this for me? If all or most of their keyboards are like this, how likely is it that they can replace this keyboard with one that works?

    • The Pabster says:

      Yep, that’s the situation with bad customer services: we have to worry about the solution, while it should be Asus worrying about it.
      After getting our money, they won’t do anything for us. 🙁

      • Sarah says:

        I have to hit the keys so hard that the writing on A, S, D, W, E, G, H, I and O have worn away entirely (in around eight months of use), and several of the rest are fading. Most of the keys will work if I hit them in the right place (though I keep having to go back to do it), but some won’t work unless I really bash them, so fast typing is a non-starter, and my hands are sore from the extra pressure.
        In addition, the trackpad has never worked. It was so sensitive that text kept disappearing, or I’d suddenly end up in the wrong place on the page, so I’ve been using a mouse instead.

  24. Matt says:

    Had enough of the keyboard, just took it into ASUS today for repair. Let’s hope they can resolve the issue somehow, though I don’t have a lot of confidence they will.

  25. estani says:

    100000000% from your side Pabster. I’ve been using this computer for 3 months and it was very hard for me to realize that this machine SUCKS! I didn’t want to recognize this because I could be called “ASUS fan boy”. Before this computer I owned an asus ul30a, what a perfect machine it was so i want to believe this as well for the ux31e. But the reallity its that it “SUCKS” (yeap, in uppercase) the touchpad, they shouldn’t try to imitate the Mac touchpad.
    The keyboard, even a calculator has one that fits better to write (even an old Nokia 1100 phone keyboard is better).
    The hard disk, i think is solid state because no sound is produced from it, but it laks of good speed.
    The WIFI, horrible horrible horrible, i’ve updated the driver many times, it stills works awfull (if i could that it “works”).
    Compatibility with linux, it doesn’t have any. I’m a linux user since 2006 and it’s the first time that i found a computer that rejects every linux distribution I tried on.
    Asus give my money back!!! (or change this peace of crap for a new UL30A and i will be happy) DON’T BUY THIS CHUNK!!!!

  26. Stefan says:

    I love this laptop: Performance is great, design is great and I don’t have problems with WiFi et. al (latest BIOS / drivers installed). Can’t say much about the Sandisk SSD Performance issue, but I scored 3.300 PCMark 7 marks, so I guess this should be about right.
    BUT: What a f****** keyboard / touchpad. Asus! Seriously, what were you guys thinking???
    @ Keyboard: In short: Horrible typing! Keys are waaay too far away from each other.
    – Fairly often the keys don’t react properly although you’ve pressed them
    Arrow keys are waaay too small (yeah, great design, Asus! Have you thought about functionality?).
    No dedicated page up/page down button (same as above: design first, then functionality).
    I doubt that I’ll get used to this. I’ll try my best within the next week but will probably send it back.
    @ Touchpad: OMFG! Asus, what the hell were you guys thinking? I read lots of reviews before buying this laptop and thought “c’mon, it can’t be that be that bad”. But when I actually started to use it I couldn’t believe what I found. Asus just shouldn’t have tried to imitate the Apple Touchpad. Of course I can use a mouse while working on my desk, but this touchpad will annoy the sh** out of me whenever I’m traveling.
    – The touchpad is just waaay too big. You cannot write a text without deleting sentences because you accidently mark text with your palm while typing and erasing everything you’ve typed. This was improved a bit with the latest driver (they increased the “dead zone”, but it still happens waay too often.
    – When you tap the touchpad to perform a left-click the delay is just aweful. I presume that because of all this swipe-gesture-interpretation-intelligence integrated into the touchpad hardware it just takes a while to interpret the tap as a click. I don’t see how this can be fixed with a driver update.
    – Why on earth did Asus decide to build in a touchpad that has no left/right mouse button that can be “felt” with your finger, i.e. by separating it from the capacitive area? Because the “border” between the two buttons is just printed on the touchpad itself you cannot “feel” the buttons and therefore quite often perform a leftclick instead of a rightclick, a rightclick instead of a leftclick, or move the mouse instead of clicking.
    – Due to the fact that the touchpad, including the two “buttons” (which are no real buttons but just printed on the touchpad itself), is just one big area with just one “clicking” switch underneath there’s another annoying flaw: When you perform drag and drop and want to release the left mouse button by lifting your finger from the area that is supposed to be the left mouse button, the switch below doesn’t recognize this. Why? Well, even the tiny weight of your other finger (on the touchpad itself) is enough to prevent the switch below from releasing. Funny, huh?
    In short: Don’t buy this laptop if you intend to type on the keyboard or use the touchpad. If you don’t, well, I’m sure you’ll like it… 😉

  27. ChaosFreak says:

    I have to agree with all of the comments on the keyboard and trackpad. I called Asus and they directed me to install a “keyboard filter” driver which seems to have improved the situation but still there are many missed keys (4-5 while typing these two sentences).
    Will try the MacGuyver trick next! Perhaps if I complain loudly enough they’ll give me trade-in credit on a newer model?

    • The Pabster says:

      Good luck with the McGuiver fix! I’d be very surprised if Asus would ever credit you a single penny. 🙂

  28. Bernie Williams says:

    I fully agree with the assessment of this more-than-crappy keyboard. I bought my Zenbook several months ago and my son wanted to know why I didn’t get the Macbook Air. I gave him some reasons before I ever typed on the keyboard. Now, I wish I had gone the Mac route. I am a very competent “typist” and depend on fast and accurate correspondence, report writing, etc. Now, I can no longer “touch type” as I have to constantly watch the screen and back up to edit about every 3rd word to add the letters that didn’t display. This is a shameful piece of hardware that should never have gotten out of the factory and into distribution. I thought maybe there would be some sort of firmware fix but, alas, not so.

    • The Pabster says:

      Thanks for your feedback.
      Well, fortunately there are several other (and better, I’d say) alternatives to the Asus Zenbook besides the Air. There is the Toshiba Portégé Z8XX series, the Samsung Series 3, the Acer Aspire One, the Lenovo Thinkpad, the Dell XPS 13, the HP Folio 13, etc. Actually, I know you didn’t know it, but please no Apple advertising in my blog. 🙂
      For an ultrabook with an unbeatable keyboard quality and feel, I’d recommend the HP Folio. I tried it in an exposition and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!: soft, responsive, orgasmic! On the other hand, honestly, Mac keyboards’ layout is unbearable: the lack of Ctrl, Alt, PgUp, PgDown, Ins, Del, Home and End keys makes the typing experience a nightmare for most of the world’s population, IMHO.

  29. gLAV says:

    Hello and many thanks for this review.
    I bought an UX31 a month ago and I’m experiencing the same issues with the keyboard. Plus one!
    I use to write texts in French (which is my native language) and need to write some accentuated caps, like È for instance. I need a numpad for that. On my previous laptop (a Sony VAIO), I just used to hit alt+Fn keys and some letter on the keyboard where numbers were written. I could get special characters doing that (alt+0200, in order to write È).
    With the UX31, I CAN’T do that, or I did not found how to do it yet.
    More than that: the number are not written on the usual keys.
    (I tried several methods, and no, using the actual numbers keys is not efficient)
    Did anyone experienced the same issue, and do anyone have a solution to offer?

    • The Pabster says:

      Hmm… don’t you have a key with “l’accent grave” on it? That’s strange, as even Spanisk standard keyboards have it despite not needing it at all (I believe the Spanish keyboard layout was designed in those times when French was the first foreign language to study, before English took over). We don’t need to do anything special at all for typing “È”: first hit “l’accent grave” key, then shift+E. How come that French keyboards don’t have that key?

      • gLAV says:

        Thanks for the fast answer.
        OK, you’re right, there is a key for “l’accent grave”, since I wrote it with my UX31 keyboard here. I used this example because it was the easiest to type. Now, how come I can type “l’accent aigu” or even the “e dans l’o”, very frequent in French.
        Here’s a list of some special chars I get used to:
        À alt+0192
        É alt+0201
        Æ alt+0198
        Ç alt+0199
        © alt+0169
        œ alt+0156
        OK, with Word, I found a way to type them, using some shortcuts (i.e. ctrl-1 + –> œ) but for some other special chars, nothing exists. And for example, when using a multitab browser, typing ctrl-1 sends me on the first tab.
        Do you have these numbers written on your keyboard? I don’t.

      • The Pabster says:

        Well, there are a lot of characters you can type with AltGr+Key. And Spanish keyboards still, surprisingly, have a dedicated key to the cedille (which I personally have mapped to something more useful to me, as I virtually never write in French). So, without the numeric keypad, we can type. À, É, Æ, and Ç. Have you tried to usse AltGr in combination with letter keys? Just a hint.

      • gLAV says:

        Yes I had, and some combinations appeared, thanks to you.
        But the main issue is that not every special characters are available by a simple and direct combination of keys, like with every single other keyboards I previosuly used. And that is something ASUS decided not to answer about yet.
        Anyway, thanks a lot for your help and kind attention.

      • The Pabster says:

        And they never answer. They’re just too busy trying to make the Zenbook look like another in-famous brand…
        You’re welcome!

  30. J says:

    spot on – i googled “why does the asus zenbook keyboard suck” and your review came up 1st. i couldn’t agree more with you. spacing and any keystroke that isn’t made perfectly centered does not register.
    how this ever got outside of beta is beyond me.

    • The Pabster says:

      Yup. But we’ll never hear a word of understanding on Asus side, nor apology, nor -least of all- any kind of solution or compensation. They’ll just issue a new model with keyboard improved, and… let the hell take all the previous buyers.

  31. Esko says:

    The advertised “Bang & Olufsen” audio would be much better, if it wouldn’t resonate the whole keyboard making listening to music, Skype, etc. unusable without a headset.
    Printings on the keyboard have started to wear off, in addition that the keys touch the screen when closed; the screen constantly gets greasy marks from those.
    After several updates the touchpad behaves a bit better, still not good but bearable. The fn keys for setting sound volume, screen brightness, etc. didn’t work (now they do, after Asus released patches).
    The fan speed on/off control sound also bothered me. Now it seems, the whole fan broke up as it doesn’t start at all; I cannot use it to anything heavy as the temperatures go up the roof. Should get it to guarantee repair, but I need a computer both in home and work being quite dependant on it.
    Would be interesting to know, how much Asus paid to tens of reviewers praising this peace of s*it.

    • The Pabster says:

      I think your best hit the target is your last sentence. I totally agree: how much do manufacturers pay to professional reviewers for writing what they write? Are professional reviews reliable? I’m afraid they’re not. Somehow we, the customers, should have the “moral” duty of publising reviews about everything we buy. 🙂

  32. Jeffrey says:

    Hello J,
    We deeply apologize for the poor design of the keyboard. We have listened to our consumers and blah, blah [edited by the blog administrator].
    If you have any questions or comments you can email me at [deleted by the blog administrator].
    ASUS strives to meet and exceeds our customer expectations within our warranty policy.
    Have a great weekend.
    ASUS Customer Loyalty

    • The Pabster says:

      Oh, Jeffrey! This is a.m.a.z.i.n.g! So… Asus “deeply apologizes” for the poor design of the keyboard? Is that all? No money refund? No free keyboard replacement? No compensation to the “victims”? Get the hell out of here and, please, tell the Asus responsibles: how are they so shameless and cheeky to send us their typical community manager crap and–which is much worse–to try to even use my blog for Asus advertisement?

  33. Jeffrey says:

    Hello Pablo,
    Thank you for the feedback on the issues we are having and blah, blah, blah [edited by the blog administrator]
    Other electronic companies face the same dilema when launching a new product on the market. Consumers report issues and companies listen to their feedback, etc, etc [edited by the blog administrator].
    If you have any questions or comments you can email me at [deleted by the blog administrator].
    Have a great weekend.

    • The Pabster says:

      Jeffrey said:

      Other electronic companies face the same dilema when launching a new product on the market.

      Sure; but, when facing this dilemma, other electronic companies don’t decide to abuse the buyers by knowingly launching a product which is defective to the point of uselessness (because, what’s the use of a laptop with which you can’t type?)
      I am really astonished by Asus audacity, or even insolence, of coming here for telling this blurb and advertising themselves. Jeffrey, I know you’re just an employee, but please don’t write any more in this thread unless you come to say that Asus is offering a free keyboard (or laptop) replacement to the affected. Otherwise your comments will be trashed.

  34. Persephone says:

    Completely agree keyboard is defective to the point of making this laptop nearly useless and a pain to type on. Got it as a gift to replace my crappy asus eee pc, which taught me I didn’t want another asus. But the person who gave me this zenbook ux21e did not know that I did not want another asus. Stuck with this expensive crapbook for years now. Has anyone else tried the key raising trick and does it really work? I’m afraid to break the keys and make the problem even worse. I would get rid of this laptop if I could. It’s lovely to look at and works fast but you can’t touch type on it and so useless for the main function of a laptop such as note taking while on the go, at meetings, etc. asus developers are idiots and quality control incompetent. How can a company that produces such defective products be this successful?they must put a lot of money into bribing reviewers and other covert web marketing.

    • The Pabster says:

      Probably deveopers and quality control staff are doing their job quite well. The responsibles are the big bosses and the marketing department. But, sadly, the only true idiots here are we, the consumers: we’re the ones who lose the money. That’s why, having reading some comment about the keyboard, when I purchased the laptop I took good care of buying it in a reliable shop where I knew I would be refunded the money, in case necessary, without asking any questions. So, I tried the laptop at home for some hours and that was enough: next day I returned the product, got the money, and said goodbye to Asus forever or until they bribe me as they’re bribing the reviewers. 😉
      Now the goddam Asus community manager fools are writing to me for trying to turn this critical article into an advertising place. Cheeky shameless bastards.

  35. David Swan says:

    I have had my zenbook UX31A for about 2 months and this morning half the keys stopped working. After talking to ASUS technical support I did a recovery-no improvement. Now I have to send it away for 3 weeks when I need it for work. Pretty shabby product and poor customer support. My search of the internet indicates this type of failure is not uncommon.
    Typing via the tablet pc input.

  36. Sarah says:

    I left a comment here in August about the poor quality of the ASUS N53 SV laptop, and how it keeps missing keystrokes. I finally sent it back to ASUS. They replaced the keyboard, but with the same kind as before, so it has the same problems as the previous one. They seem not to accept that it’s a design flaw.

  37. Matt says:

    I have the misfortune of having 10 of these Donkeys. A mixture of UX31As and UX31Es which we had the misfortune of buying in 2012.
    ALL of them have failed at some point, some of them even failing again after “repair”. Mostly some keys not working randomly, or all the time. One failing with the exact same fault two weeks after being returned, another sent for keyboard failure, came back working then two weeks later the mousepad stopped working. We had one DOA and even one which was sent for repair due to the screen failing, the repair tech called me to ask if the (brand new) machine was refurbished, as it looked like it was!
    These are shocking devices, the main problem being that the keyboard ribbon seems to be held in place in the rubbish connector by masking tape from the factory floor!
    If that’s not a design flaw I don’t know what is! These should be recalled and replaced.
    I am stuck with multiple Zenbooks that I cannot risk sending out as each replacement rebuild wastes my time and that of the person who is trying to use the thing.
    Do _not_ buy the above models for any reason, they are nothing but crap.

  38. Wina says:

    I share the same woe for this keyboard problem, albeit for Asus S400CA model instead of UX. I don’t know what was the designer thinking when they designed the keyboard, they couldn’t possibly considered such shallow keys and terrible spacing will be as useful as it is pleasing in the eye?
    I’m a translator and whenever I have a deadline approaching I have to type with crazy speed, something this keyboard simply doesn’t allow due to the constant backspacing and corrections I have to make in order to make a sentence intelligible. So much time wasted. God, I even have to concentrate so hard typing this comment.
    Having the laptop sent to me without properly checking it might be one of the worst mistake I’ve made this year. Guess I was swayed away by those professional reviews saying the keyboard is “comfortable”. Yeah, right. So comfortable it literally boils your head out of frustration and anger from just trying to TYPE.
    Will bring this back to the seller tomorrow, I don’t care, I just don’t wanna use this keyboard anymore.

  39. Rich Olson says:

    My Asus Q550L (Best Buy model) suffers from similar issues with the keyboard. Missing keystrokes randomly / etc.
    I tried McGyver’s trick menioned earlier in the comments – and it definitely works.
    Instead of blue putty / paper – I used little pieces of “carpet tape” – leaving the paper backing on. If one layer doesn’t seem adequate – you can put on two layers of tape.
    Major improvement – not a great keyboard – but usable now / way better than before.
    The scissor tabs on my keyboard were a bit fragile – and I broke one of them. Was able to resolve this using a small piece of foam mounting tape to hold the key to the scissors.

  40. Guille says:

    This post is totally valid nowadays. I bought this morning an Asus ux410ua-gv028t and I paid about 1000 usd for it. The keyword is really bad, the press feeling of the center keys are totally different from the side keys. Feels like a cheap kewboard, when you press the key of the center zone al the keyboard “sags”. The arrows keys are really small too. Really a bad keyboard for a software developer. I will return it tomorrow.

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