Humans have evolved into multitaskers over time and so have our phones, laptops, tablets and most recently even our watches. However, today it’s difficult to further develop a technology already packed to the brim with features that make it even better for its users. Asus has done exactly that and more!
The ZenBook Duo has been around a while, yes, it isn’t a new concept, however, Asus has given it a few features that add to its already commendable list, making it an even more delectable piece of equipment to have in your arsenal if you’re a creator.
Design and Build
Well, not a lot has changed when it comes to the actual design of the Zenbook Duo and in this 14in version, the whole laptop has been made to shrink into a more compact form factor that appeals to a wider audience. Cramming two displays into a unit this size takes quite a bit of engineering prowess, but the end result is brilliant.
It’s slick, sexy and compact and it may not be the lightest out there at 1.6Kgs, it’s still manageable and won’t hurt to carry around in a backpack (when we get the chance to). The build quality leaves nothing to be desired and the secondary display although quite robust, isn’t idiot-proof. So, a bit of care is required when it comes to the daily use of the unit.
The new Zenbook Duo Pro gets OLED displays, but this 14in variant comes with a regular 1080p panel that covers 100% of the sRGB standard. The second display dubbed ScreenPad Plus is a 12.6in panel which supports a resolution of 1920x515. Both are touch-enabled and perform really well with pinpoint accuracy and get a bump in brightness which allow them to go upto 400nits.
To make things a bit easier and more ergonomic, the second display now raises itself at a few degrees’ angle so as to make it easier to see from the seating position. This minor change makes a world of a difference when you’re working on the device, as the earlier version needed you to sometimes lean forward in certain situations to accurately locate what you needed to. This angled raise is perfect and makes the whole USP ie. the second display, more functional and less annoying to use compared to the previous versions where it was just flat.
That’s not all, the gap between the base and the raised display is also utilised cleverly to vent out heat which is managed by upgraded fans with more blades and a more effective cooling system in place. The same principle applies to the base unit as that is raised when you open the lid and the ‘ErgoLift’ is something we’ve experienced before and it works brilliantly.
Keyboard and trackpad
There are certain downsides to having a huge display take up most of the area that would be otherwise traditionally dedicated to the keyboard and trackpad. The cramped keyboard may be a bit of a hassle for those who have huge hands and typing out lengthy articles may take a toll. The trackpad as well is very tiny and doesn’t really do justice to the machine, however Asus’ workaround for this issue is to cleverly turn the entire second screen into a trackpad by just tapping three fingers on it. It’s clever thinking and certainly makes the experience much better.
The 14in variant starts from a basic config of the Intel Core i5-1135G7, however our review unit has the Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with 16GB RAM and 1TB storage. It’s an Intel Evo processor and that badge isn’t just handed out to you for nothing. There are a few criterias that the device needs to check and only then does it qualify for one.
Performance is pretty much at par with the rest of the competition at this level. We loaded up our regular suite of Adobe software and didn’t find anything lacking when it comes to performance. We got a decent 4974 on the PC Mark 10 benchmark and that’s not bad at all. If you have some serious video editing to do, we would definitely opt for the higher end processor or go for the gorgeous Zenbook Duo Pro with the OLED display.
ScreenPad Plus Advantage
Having the second display is an advantage for sure, but this one does a bit more than the rest of the competition. Apart from seamlessly blending into the main screen, thanks to its uplifting nature, there’s a lot more going on here. We’ve already told you that it can be used as a touchpad and there is the obvious use of it as a second display where you can align and ‘clip’ your work windows for easy access, but there’s way more you can do.
Apart from the handy gestures and shortcuts like Windows Flick and App Switcher, Asus has developed adaptive apps such as ASUS Control Panel, which enables intuitive touch control over selected main screen applications, including Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Premiere Pro and After Effects. These have been made open source so customisation is a possibility.
The new Zenbook Duo and its variants open up the floodgates for those looking for a machine that can match their work flow and improve it. Asus has made it even more accessible to the crowd and the 14in variant with the Core i7 is a perfect productivity powerhouse of a machine. Now, we are just left with one question… What’s next, Asus?