Image: ASUS

Audiophiles weren’t happy when Apple removed the 3.5 mm headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016, which led other smartphone giants (e.g., Samsung) to follow suit. The same thing might be happening in the laptop world as marketing departments push to make devices thinner and thinner.

As spotted by users on r/Hardware, ASUS has debuted two new ZenBook devices – the ZenBook 13 UX333FA and ZenBook 14 UX425JA – but neither of them have headphone jacks. The only ports they have are Thunderbolt 3 USB-C (2x), USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (1x), and standard HDMI (1x).

Now, wait a second – if there’s room for a USB 3.2 port, shouldn’t there be room for a 3.5 mm jack? Probably, but ASUS avoided this argument by claiming that most consumers have switched to wireless solutions (e.g., Bluetooth headphones) and no longer require the aging port. Another excuse is that the jack would have prevented ASUS from fitting larger components, such as the 22-hour battery, but internal chassis shots seem to suggest otherwise.

ASUS has included a USB-C to audio jack dongle for 3.5 mm diehards, but being that the ZenBooks are being marketed as having “a full complement of I/O ports,” the lack of a built-in one is pretty weird.

Some users have pointed out that Microsoft’s Surface Pro X has also ditched the 3.5 mm headphone jack, but that’s technically a tablet. You can decide which to blame if a rush of companies start releasing laptops without one.

“The compact, thin and ultralight all-metal design of ZenBook 14 makes it the ideal traveling companion,” a blurb on the official landing page reads. “It’s also the world’s thinnest 14-inch laptop to feature a full set of I/O ports — including HDMI and USB Type-A — so you can enjoy versatile connectivity wherever you are.”

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23 Comments

  1. [URL unfurl=”true”]https://www.sabrent.com/product/AU-MMSA/usb-external-stereo-3d-sound-adapter-black/#description[/URL]

  2. [QUOTE=”Auer, post: 20465, member: 225″]
    [URL unfurl=”true”]https://www.sabrent.com/product/AU-MMSA/usb-external-stereo-3d-sound-adapter-black/#description[/URL]
    [/QUOTE]

    Shouldn’t have to, though. I’m betting that this ‘fad’ will die out quick. Even full-size SD cards are coming back!

  3. Since the sound output from a laptop is going to be…not superior..in the first place, is there a legit reason not to use BT headphones?

    1. If you watch a lot of video with headphones, BT often has a problem with having a robust connection and keeping audio in sync. This is because keeping the connection solid is often achieved by having a larger audio buffer.

      But for audiophiles they probably won’t care as fancy USB DACs with built in headphone amps are a big thing in that community.

  4. [QUOTE=”Auer, post: 20489, member: 225″]
    Since the sound output from a laptop is going to be…not superior..in the first place, is there a legit reason not to use BT headphones?
    [/QUOTE]

    My biggest hang up with BT is that sometimes (not always) it’s a hassle to use them with multiple devices, as you have to re-pair them when you switch between devices.

    That being said, I don’t miss the headphone jack. If you want corded headphones, USB is still an option. And if you want to run audiophile grade, get a USB DAC to drive them.

  5. [QUOTE=”Auer, post: 20489, member: 225″]
    Since the sound output from a laptop is going to be…not superior..in the first place, is there a legit reason not to use BT headphones?
    [/QUOTE]
    Biggest issue on my mind is connection reliability when used in environments with contested spectrum. After that, it’s one more thing to have to charge and so on.

    And while headphone jacks can certainly be terrible, they don’t have to be; audio on higher-end laptops and phones is typically pretty good.
    [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 20494, member: 96″]
    And if you want to run audiophile grade, get a USB DAC to drive them.
    [/QUOTE]
    I have audiophile cans that like their juice, such as HD600, DT880 250Ohm, and HE-4XX.

    On the other hand, there are a great many that need very little power well into the kilobuck range including most closed options. I don’t expect headphone jacks on laptops to put out the juice but I [I]do[/I] expect them to be properly implemented, and that’s really just not that hard.

  6. Included in the Box

    ZenBook 14 (UX425)
    Power adaptor with power cord (65W)
    Protective sleeve (optional)
    [U]USB-C® to audio jack dongle[/U]
    USB-A to LAN dongle (optional)

    [URL unfurl=”true”]https://www.asus.com/Laptops/ASUS-ZenBook-14-UX425JA/Tech-Specs/[/URL]

  7. I don’t think I have ever used the headphone jack in a laptop in the last decade. All my headsets are USB anyway.

  8. [QUOTE=”Auer, post: 20489, member: 225″]
    Since the sound output from a laptop is going to be…not superior..in the first place, is there a legit reason not to use BT headphones?
    [/QUOTE]

    Sound quality is only one part of the equation.

    Scenario: You go to join your meeting or whatever, and you notice the BT headset came disconnected overnight and you have 0 charge.

    What now?

    I tend to avoid anything and everything that is wireless and runs on a battery if there is a corded plugin version.

    Now, all that aside, analogue audio is universal. It works with everything. That is also a huge reason to keep it. Calling it a “Headpone out” port is misrepresenting it too. It is a line out or analogue audio out port. Anything you want to connect it to, you can. An amp, a headphone, powered speakers, a transmitter, a mixing board, you name it.

    Sure, you can get a small inexpensive USB DAC, but as has been said before, you shoudlnt’ have to. And the part that sucks about dongles is that they always get lost, and are never there when you need them.

    [QUOTE=”LeRoy_Blanchard, post: 20507, member: 137″]
    I don’t think I have ever used the headphone jack in a laptop in the last decade. All my headsets are USB anyway.
    [/QUOTE]

    If I am honest I rarely use the analogue audio out on computers anymore either. When I do use them, it’s because I’m pulling together a last minute solution using stuff I have laying around.

    I recently had a meeting I absolutely needed to listen in to at work. They set it up a Teams meeting with no dial in. I also absolutely had to drive somewhere in my 20 year old Volvo wagon.

    I was able to pop the cassette adapter in the head unit, plug it in to the analogue out on the laptop, and tether the internet via my phone in order to listen to the hour and a half long meeting during my 2 hour drive. It was a lifesaver.

    Sure, analogue wirting is no longer the sexiest thing on the block, but there are still TONS of things out there that use it, to the point where abandoning it is just a profoundly stupid idea. Tech may be obsolete in 2-3 years, but cars, classic amplifiers, radio mixing boards, etc. sure as hell aren’t.

  9. I just don’t understand why this is a thing now. I mean does it take up that much room to put a 3.5mm jack and a modest DAC in electronics these days? Yes Bluetooth headphones work just fine but so do the 6 million sets of wired ear buds that I already have laying around or that I could buy at any gas station for $5! Best of all you don’t have to worry about the battery ever going dead in them.

    I love my Note 20 Ultra but I hate the fact that none of the sets of wired earbuds I have owned for years are now useless and I have to go out and buy new Bluetooth earbuds that don’t sound as good but yet cost 5 times more.

    What is with this insistence by manufacturers to not include something most people seem to want?

  10. I was one of those complaining about the jack.. meh, don’t care anymore.
    That being said bluetooth on windows 10 hasn’t been the best for me.

  11. [QUOTE=”Paul_Johnson, post: 20464, member: 2″]
    Screw you brave people.
    [/QUOTE]

    Unfortunately, most head sets seem to be USB and or USB / Bluetooth / Wireless. I’m not surprised by this honestly.

  12. My daughter handled the transition with ease, I gave her a set of Grado over ears some years ago and when she got the Iphone 11 or whatever she just got an adapter.

    Maybe in in the minority here too, I very rarely use headphones for anything work related.
    There’s a Jabra in a drawer here somewhere, and a Sennheiser RF set somewhere else.

    As for music…just no. Have a pair of apparently very nice Grado’s. Don’t use “Audiophile” in the same sentence as “Headphones” haha.

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  13. I like wired everything, when possible. Less chance for there to be an issue. I’ll take a USB or analog wired headset over bluetooth. I don’t even like wireless mice.

  14. [QUOTE=”Riccochet, post: 20568, member: 4″]
    I like wired everything, when possible. Less chance for there to be an issue. I’ll take a USB or analog wired headset over bluetooth. I don’t even like wireless mice.
    [/QUOTE]
    I’ve had nothing but issues with wireless mice over the years. Every few years I’ll try a new one that had big promises only for it to end in the same disappointment. Don’t know why I keep trying.

  15. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 20511, member: 203″]
    I recently had a meeting I absolutely needed to listen in to at work. They set it up a Teams meeting with no dial in. I also absolutely had to drive somewhere in my 20 year old Volvo wagon.

    I was able to pop the cassette adapter in the head unit, plug it in to the analogue out on the laptop, and tether the internet via my phone in order to listen to the hour and a half long meeting during my 2 hour drive. It was a lifesaver.

    [/QUOTE]

    That was very clever convoluted backwards thinking of you, like something I would come up with. 🙂 But then my wife would chime in and say “you know they make a Teams app for your phone, right?” – damn you, woman!

    Our company has recently moved to Teams almost exclusively and I hate it. The meetings do work, but the interface (especially the chat interface) is terrible. I don’t know why this is the new “Skype” ( you know, one that works?) when MS paid a fortune for Skype not too long ago.

    The inability to dial in from landline has bitten me in the ass several times on days my laptop refuses to work properly. I guess I’ll have to install the app next time myself.

  16. So yeah I have some BT headphones, and at any given time I pull them out there is a 50/50 chance the battery is dead or nearly so. So I always keep regular earbuds in my bag too.

    One time I was on a flight and somehow my trusty old wired earbuds got packed away in another bag. I did have my BT headphones and by some miracle they were charged. But then I had to pair the headphones to my laptop (99% of the time only paired with my phone). Have you ever tried to pair a BT device on a plane? It’s nearly impossible with everyone else on the same flying bus also using BT devices. I was finally able to do it, but it must have taken 25 or 30 tries.

    TLDR – not buying any device that lacks a physical headphone jack. Phone, laptop, etc. Nope. And I don’t care if there is a dongle, all those are good for is getting lost. There is ZERO viable reason for omitting the 3.5 jack… it’s all just a ploy to get you to buy new headphones.

  17. [QUOTE=”Riccochet, post: 20568, member: 4″]
    I like wired everything, when possible. Less chance for there to be an issue. I’ll take a USB or analog wired headset over bluetooth. I don’t even like wireless mice.
    [/QUOTE]
    I love the idea of wireless.

    I absolutely hate the idea of wondering whether something is charged, or whether it will stop working while I need it, and [I]then[/I] having to find the cable.

    It ain’t actually wireless until we can have as many devices online as there are IPv6 addresses per human and wireless charging has become neighborhood and skyscraper scale and is literally everywhere.

  18. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 20647, member: 1367″]
    It ain’t actually wireless until we can have as many devices online as there are IPv6 addresses per human and wireless charging has become neighborhood and skyscraper scale and is literally everywhere.
    [/QUOTE]

    But oh my god the Cancers! :p

  19. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 20698, member: 203″]
    But oh my god the Cancers! :p
    [/QUOTE]
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