Concerns about ability to rebuild OS in Ultrabook "Zenbook"

Apr 15, 2010
I just bought an Asus Zenbook UX31E:

Newegg: ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH53 Ultrabook Intel Core i5 2557M(1.70GHz) 13.3" 4GB Memory DDR3 256GB SSD HDD Intel HD Graphics

But now I am getting concerned that I may have problems in the future when I have to rebuild the OS, as the notebook don't have an optical drive. I am planning to get an external DVD DL writer for use with it, but I have concerns that it will not boot to the DVD drive, an USB peripheral. I also had a hard time finding an USB DVD drive for it, as most use two USB plugs to power them, or an external power source; the laptop only has two USB ports (1 is 3.0), but I do have a non-powered portable USB hub for it. I do plan to occasionally use an USB mouse with it, and often connect the USB dongle for Ethernet at home; so my ports are at a premium, and using the hub may complicate the use of dual USB plugs for the DVD drive. Also, the ports are on opposite sides of the laptop, and most of the cables I have seen would not go to both sides without an extension - adding to the inconvience which begins to negate the advantages of using an Ultrabook class notebook. I did find just one DVD writer (with a favorable but single customer review) drive that fit the bill for a single USB plug:

HP USB 2.0 8X External Slot-load Slim Multiformat DVD Writer Model DVD560S

I haven't ordered it yet. I would plug this into the USB 3.0 port, exclusive to any hub. Everything else USB would be plugged into a travel-type hub in the 2.0 port.

I am using this for a work laptop, I service computer-controlled industrial machinery, "CNC" machines. The work involves only two primary uses: Reference for pdf documents (machine manuals), and RS-232 (com port) communications - also via an USB adapter dongle. Often my use would be just to quickly look up things on the pdf's, and not even connect any USB peripherals, thus the reason for the Ultrabook decision. What's more, the environment is rugged, I sometimes have no good place to set up a laptop, and set it on machined parts where it may get knocked around easily, so having an SSD as opposed to a mechanical HDD is a great idea to help prevent damage from jarring. What's more, the ultrabook price is lower than a laptop with similar specs but with an optical drive, meaning lower hit to the budget should the laptop suffer a physical catastrophe. I will not be using this for gaming.

I have already ordered this notebook, but I know Newegg has a great return policy if I am unsatisfied, so I need to know if my concerns are well founded. How would one rebuild the OS from scratch if Windows quit booting? Would an USB key work? I am considering getting a good USB 3.0 key >9GB for this reason. But I don't know if you can boot the Windows 7 (64) DVD from an USB key either, And I don't even know if I will have one specifically for this machine, or some sort of disaster recovery media. So I am asking you guys. Does anyone know these things?