2-in-1 laptops have been shedding weight ever since they first showed up - but the ZenBook Flip S might be the first to squeeze into a size zero.
At a barely-there 11mm thick, there’s nothing else around that’s quite so thin, yet still able to flip from laptop to tablet in a single slick motion.
Don’t think such tiny proportions make for a compromised laptop, either. With Intel silicon inside and a competent keyboard for getting work done, there’s plenty here to like.
DESIGN & BUILD
It might be made entirely from aluminium, but there’s no mistaking the ZenBook Flip for a MacBook - not with those eye-catching royal blue colours. The gold accents around the edges and Asus logo land on the right side of tacky, too. Just about.
The 180-degree hinges don’t add any bulk either, smoothly flipping the screen around into tablet mode and back with minimal fuss.
You might think a paper-thin laptop would bend like, well, like paper, but the whole thing is sturdy enough to sling in a bag without covering it in bubble wrap first. At 1.1kg, you might even forget it’s in there.
Such skinny sides don’t leave a lot of room for connectivity, so you’re stuck with two USB-C ports and a headphone jack. Get ready to live the dongle life for a while, at least until the rest of the world catches up. No Thunderbolt 3, though, which is annoying.
There is space for a fingerprint reader, though, which is handy for skipping the Start screen with Windows Hello.
KEYBOARD & TOUCHPAD
You’ll have no problems getting serious work done on the Flip, because its keyboard and touchpad are both excellent.
The full-size, backlit keyboard doesn’t have a huge amount of travel in each key, but you’ll only really notice if you type like you’re hammering in nails. A tiny bit of backlight bleed is annoying, but you’ll only notice in total darkness, and it doesn’t distract from the keys themselves.
The giant touchpad is perfectly responsive too, with buttons built into the single slab of metal. You get all the usual multi-touch gestures, and there’s more than enough room for skipping your mouse pointer across the screen.
SCREEN & SOUND
It’s not quite edge-to-edge like Dell’s XPS 13, but Asus has still done a great job slimming down the screen bezels on the 13.3in panel. It’s behind a single sheet of glass, too, which adds to the premium feel.
The top-spec Flip has a 4K resolution screen, but this more mainstream model has a Full HD display. That might not make it quite so suited to design work or image editing as a MacBook or Lenovo Yoga, but it’s still fine for day-to-day working or web browsing.
Colours are bright and vibrant, viewing angles are fantastic, and contrast is pretty decent too, so Netflix comic collab Marvel’s Defenders looks detailed instead of a dingy mess.
The Harman/Kardon speakers are a good match to the screen, with two separate drivers doing an alright job with stereo separation. They get surprisingly loud, with no distortion even when you crank the volume.
They fire downwards, though, and are pretty easy to muffle when you’re working on your lap.
PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE
The ZenBook Flip isn’t a fanless system, but that’s a good thing - it means there’s enough cooling on-board to keep an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU ticking over at its highest possible clock speeds.
The 0.3mm thick fan doesn’t kick up much noise, unless you’re absolutely thrashing it, but push too hard and it’ll struggle. After a few hours of heavy use, the Flip got noticeably toasty to the touch.
For web browsing, watching movies or typing up documents, though, the Core i7 CPU is more than powerful enough. To be honest, if that’s all you’re doing with your laptop, you should save your cash and pick up a Core i5 version instead.
There’s enough grunt here for Photoshop, but gaming is out of the question. The CPU throttles right down and frame rates barely scrape out of the teens in action RPGs like Heroes of the Storm. Card battler Hearthstone is still playable, though.
8GB of RAM is pretty much standard in a thin-and-light laptop right now, but should still be enough for most multi-tasking. The 512GB SSD in this review unit feels like overkill, but no-one ever said no to extra storage.
The one area for concern is battery life. The Flip just about managed five hours of away-from-the-mains working, which is pretty disappointing. Video playback fared better at close to eight hours, but that’s still not as good as the equivalent MacBook.
Thin and light is great, but those dimensions clearly came at the cost of battery size.
Asus ZenBook Flip S Verdict
That’s really my only major complaint, though. The ZenBook Flip S is otherwise a great 2-in-1, with unique looks, a slim build and plenty of power - even if it’ll feel the heat when you push it hard.
A Core i5-equipped MacBook will set you back another £150, and that’s only good for laptop use - this comes in handy as a tablet when work is done, and you want to kick back with a movie.
If you’re after a machine for all-day working without being tied to a mains socket, this doesn’t have the staying power to fit the bill. You’d be better served by an HP Spectre x360 13, which has much more staying power.
If style bests substance for you, though, the Flip S is still a fantastic buy - it’s the one true blue 2-in-1, after all.