Looks like the future is already here. The notebooks of tomorrow are available today. ASUS ‘latest addition, the ZenBook Duo, a dual-screen laptop, is now in its second iteration and it looks really good. A compact but powerful machine packed with features to the brim.
At first glance, you can’t help but notice the design. From the brushed metal finish on the outside (ASUS calls it spun metal finish) to the delicate tilt for ergonomics and cooling. The laptop screams high end and the specs seem to match as well. Our review unit came with an 11th gen i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Quite the power.
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Weighing just over 1½ kilos, it is an elegant and light machine. The 14-inch LED-backlit Full HD display also seems to look bigger than it is. Of course, having the ScreenPad + right below helps give that impression, but also the fact that the bezels aren’t that big, so you really tend to have more screen. It is bright and vibrant and the colors are very precise and quite beautiful. Did I mention that the screen is also a touch screen?
The keyboard is something that I personally don’t like. It was just a lot smaller than wasting years of muscle memory typing and having the trackpad on the right led me to a host of unwanted keystrokes and inaccurate typing. It’s a chiclet keyboard so the overall feel of the keys was pretty good and with a bit of learning and training you could get used to it. It’s also a backlit keyboard. For now, I’ve avoided using it as much as possible and used touchscreens instead.
For connectivity, the ZenBook comes with Wi-Fi 6, which gives you the advantage of high speed and high bandwidth for all your needs. Also, in terms of ports, the laptop comes with plenty of ports. One full HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 4 USB C ports with display and power, one USB 32 port, one 3.5mm headphone / microphone port and a micro SD card reader. Enough options to satisfy most users.
The integrated webcam was also Full HD and also supported Windows Hello. Connecting to the machine was a snap and although I tried with and without glasses which worked great, I did not try with a mask!
The highlight, of course, was the second display now called ScreenPad +. Just tilt it very slightly at an angle of around 7 °, making it the perfect viewing angle to watch without interfering. I am a big multi-screen person. I could potentially use as many screens as my laptop or desktop can allow and I want more. For me, I had a few specific use cases that I wanted to test out and the ZenBook Duo didn’t disappoint.
To get started, let’s just take a normal multitasking routine. I like to work on multiple things at the same time, or if I’m not working on all of them, at least so that I can quickly take a look and see what’s going on. It is mainly a matter of monitoring the servers while I am browsing or reading mail. I also like to have music while I am working; so a window with my music app / service is still there and open. On a typical machine with a single screen, I normally manage this using a multitude of virtual spaces / desktops. With the ZenBook Duo, this was easily achieved on ScreenPad +. Not only was I able to perfectly set up the apps I wanted to watch on the second screen, but we could also set up a bunch of apps to launch them all in the required sequence and layout. Very practical indeed.
The other big requirement I have for a second screen is photo editing and review. The ability to make adjustments and adjustments to a photo and see the results in a preview window is just great. With ScreenPad + which went a step further, since it is possible to customize the ScreenPad + as a control panel for an application like Adobe Lightroom, I had all the controls and slides on ScreenPad + and the main full screen photo on the main screen and much better overview of what was going on without distraction from tools and menus.
The ZenBook Duo also comes with a stylus, although I have two complaints about this. Firstly, the stylus is magnetic and its flat edge adheres very well to a magnetic surface, but unfortunately the ZenBook Duo doesn’t have a docking station or a flat surface it could stick to. It stuck rather firmly to my iPad, quite funny.
The other is the lack of stylus support in apps and the ability to use the dual screen as a graphics tablet. Granted, this is a specific use case, but it would be nice to see more than Windows Ink support or a special ASUS app that would just allow the stylus to be used more efficiently. It does as usual in apps like OneNote etc., but not much more than a replacement for the mouse pointer.
If you’re wondering what all of those fancy features, dual screens, and all the bells and whistles do on battery life, then don’t worry. While ASUS claims 17 hours of battery life, we had 11-14 hours with no issues and given that we are all sitting at home, being able to reach out and charge was no problem at all.
Overall the ZenBook Duo is a good performance machine and with the added screen it would be a godsend for the creators. While it cannot handle heavy video editing and rendering loads, it would certainly allow a lot of creativity and content capture.
Price: ₹ 99,990 / –
Advantages: elegant, elegant and light; Dual screen improves productivity
Cons: Dual screen requires more apps to be supported; The stylus needs a dedicated app and docking station