The ultrabook market is well and truly heating up, with Asus joining the fray. Two new models covering the 11 and 13 inch form factors were launched in Australia overnight, giving Windows users a taste of something thinner.

Launched last night, we had a quick hands-on with it last night at the launch and found both models to be a solid entry in the thin-and-light laptop area with specs to match.

Like Apple’s own MacBook Air series, the new machines are crafted out of a block of aluminium and are designed to be thin – really thin. In fact, the design is very similar to that of an Air, complete with an angular shape and sharp edges.

One of the connections even reminds us of the Air, with a mini VGA port that apparently uses the same connection as the DisplayPort/Thunderbolt seen on the Apple laptop. There are more connections on the Asus Zenbook, however, with a USB 2.0 port, USB 3.0 port (the blue USB port), headphone/microphone 3.5mm jack, and microHDMI port appearing on both 11 and 13 inch models. An SD card slot will appear on the 13 inch.

From our brief hands-on, we have to say that the 13 inch UX31 feels much stronger than the 11 inch UX21, with both a more solid hinge and better typing experience on the larger model. The aluminium body gives off the impression that the laptops are well built and strong, while still looking very attractive.

Both laptops feature a very bright 450 nits screen, something which Asus says is 3 times brighter than what normally appears on laptops. The 13 inch also features a resolution of 1600×900, making it one of the best screen resolutions we’ve ever seen on a machine in its size.

Asus has also done some work to the power brick, shrinking it from the large bricks PC users are normally forced to carry down to something a little more friendly and backpack-friendly.

The new and improved small power brick.

The specs look to be strong in the laptops, with 4GB RAM, 128GB and 256GB solid state drives, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4 technology, Bang & Olfusen sound, and either a 2nd generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor.

Asus has also been working hard to make the price competitive, and while it’s not an Apple-beating RRP, it’s not far off. The 11 inch UX21 models – each with a 128GB SSD – will come in at $1,399 and $1,599 for the Core i5 and Core i7 respectively, while the Core i5 13 UX31 inch will retail for $1,499 with the same size drive.

The high-end UX31 with a Core i7 and 256GB drive will cost a little more, setting an RRP of $1,999 when it – and the rest of the range – arrives in stores later this week.

The only thing missing was backlit keys, a surprising omission.