This laptop is truly a thing of beauty. A spun aluminum lid catches the light with a beautiful moiré pattern, and it feels solid and well built in the hand. It's fantastically slender and thin, and almost looks like some sort of minimalist place mat for dinner when closed, rather that a computer.
The keyboard is, at first glance, horrible. In fact it is a joy to type on. Very responsive and comfortable, with a nice tactile feel.
Asus have put in dozens of keyboard shortcuts that do everything from lock out the keypad, to adjust the screen display lighting presets. There isn't a proper keypad, but I don't think most people would miss that.
Sound is, for a laptop, very nice. It's still a bit tinny and thin - don't expect hifi sound, but as the PC itself is so incredibly svelte it's amazing that it is as good as it is. There is a headphone socket conveniently placed on the left side edge.
Other inputs are an SD card slot, two USB slots (one each side) and two micro-HDMI slots. There is, however, no network port - you need to use a supplied adaptor for that. There is also no DVD! This can mean installing software can be a bit of a pain - you'll find yourself downloading software from websites.
It has power to spare, and is perfect for editing HD videos and the battery life is superb. A handy little app on the desktop lets you know how much power you have left, depending on what you're doing (gaming, watching films, etc)
The touchpad is multi-touch, with enough options and gestures to have you re-reading the manual to remember how to do what. Most gestures are 'standard' from a phone, and is nice. It's a nice big touchpad and handily de-activates itself when it detects that you're typing. No more cursor launching itself across the screeen.
The screen quality is incredible. Vibrant,sharp and very bright. VERY bright. Far too bright. This is actually a failing of the thing as the default settings for the screen are so insanely bright it's uncomfortable to work with. Headache inducing in fact. The first thing I found myself doing was turning down the brightness, but this is where things get a bit complicated. There are number of different screen settings (vivid, theatre, gamma, normal) each of whch changes the colour response. Also depending on what power setting you're using (performance or battery saving) the screen brightness, contrast and colour change again. This is maddening if you're trying to edit photos or do any film work as you have no idea what colour anything is. Get things just right, and power saving might kick in and everything changes again. It's incredibly annoying. I assume these 'features' can be turned off, though I've not worked out how to do it. Asus,pick a colour and stick with it! This is apparently 'splendid video technology'. No it isn't. It's irritating.
Supplied software is refreshingly free of spam software that so many PC manufacturers install for you. There is a folder of Asus bit and pieces you can install yourself if you want to. The most useful I've found, and fun, is the face recognition software. Instead of typing in your password when you turn on your PC, the webcam comes on and recognises you. It's a lot of fun.
Also is Asus own version of cloud storage, something called 'vibe' which I assume is a music thing and I can't get to work, and some other bits and pieces you'll probably never use.
Other downsides other than the weird colour shifting screen is the sealed body. It won't be a problem for a long while, but as far as I can see there is no way to replace the battery when it starts to lose life. A bit of open heart surgery with a torx driver will be required at some point. Similarly, you can't open it up to increase the RAM. 4Gb is a bit miserly for a top end laptop like this, and it although it's plenty now it will somewhat limit the useful life of the thing. The speed of the solid state hardrive might well compensate for that though. Boot up times are suitably impressive - from cold to login screen takes about 15seconds. It comes with Windows 7, which is fine for me, but if you wanted 8 then you can update for a minimal cost at Microsoft's website. (they do a discount if you've bought a new PC since Win8 came out)
It comes with a nice substantial sleeve to carry it about in, and as I said at the start the build is very substantial and I have no fears about damaging it in transport.
So, it's a beautiful object, incredibly fast and a delight to use. The only problem is the screen display (not the screen itself) which will require a pointless bit of tinkering with to get the best from. Very happy.