Asus ZenBook Duo overview: two displays, too many compromises

Asus ZenBook Duo overview: two displays, too many compromises

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There is one — and most productive one — reason to lift the Asus ZenBook Duo. Whenever you occur to’ve seen a portray, what that reason is: there are two displays.

Particularly, there’s the fundamental show cowl, a 14-dash 1080p matte show cowl. There’s also one other show cowl, a 12.6-dash IPS panel referred to as the ScreenPad 2.0, constructed into the extinguish 1/2 of the lower deck. Both are contact-enabled, and each and each toughen Asus’ energetic stylus. It’s form of laborious to present what this looks bask in; you’ll accumulate it at the same time as you leer it.

The $1,499 ZenBook Duo isn’t quite the most productive notebook computer bask in this — remaining 365 days’s ZenBook Professional Duo (of which right here’s a pared-down, portable model) offers the 2-show cowl setup in a $2,500 workstation make, and some identical ideas, resembling Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, are slated for initiating later this 365 days. For the moment, though, the ZenBook Duo is the ideal notebook computer for most users who desire multiple show cowl.

Correct have faith sure you if fact be told desire the additional show cowl for the reason that trade-offs you’d also contain to have faith are fundamental.

Unlike the MacBook Professional’s Contact Bar, or outdated ZenBooks bask in the Professional 15 that contain experimented with touchscreen trackpads, the ScreenPad has a desire of glaring use instances, and they also work as well to they should.

Asus Zenbook Duo

A fold-below hinge lifts the ScreenPad quite off the ground.

I largely saved distractions bask in Slack, Twitter, and Spotify on the bottom show cowl so they were out of my methodology while I did my valuable work on the extinguish, but I also every as soon as in some time saved notes or diverse files down there for reference. You might maybe perchance perchance maybe perchance also simply message a noble friend while watching Netflix, edit video with the timeline on the bottom, or circulate a YouTube tutorial on the bottom while operating a sport up top. I’m sure you can leer your contain uses for this; it’s bask in having a tiny, constructed-in song. Expose, though, that the ScreenPad is shrimp and has a extraordinarily slim facet ratio, making it easiest noble to operating streams in the background or stealing a perceive at Twitter right here and there; finding out intensive or doing any staunch work on it is magnificent minute.

In Asus’ Launcher menu, which you originate by tapping the left facet of the ScreenPad, you can accumulate entry to a handful of nifty facets that spend profit of the Duo’s make ingredient (as well to adjust the ScreenPad’s brightness and lock and liberate the keyboard). There are a couple apps, including Mercurial Key (where you can accumulate entry to shortcuts to commands bask in lower, reproduction, and paste), Amount Key (which attracts up a virtual numpad), and Handwriting (where you can scribble with the stylus and the text will present up wherever your cursor is — it’s quite merely). You might maybe perchance perchance maybe perchance also have faith “activity groups” of up to five apps or tabs (two on the fundamental show cowl and three on the ScreenPad), that chances are high you’ll then originate up later with a single click. And you’d add whatever apps you should the Launcher’s valuable menu, so it will characteristic as a secondary dock.

Asus Zenbook Duo left-facet ports.

The ZenBook Duo lacks a Thunderbolt 3 port, which is exasperating at this value level.

Transferring apps from one show cowl to the assorted is as straightforward as provocative them to an exterior song. However there are some orderly systems, too. Everytime you click and dash a window, a shrimp menu pops up with choices to send it to the reverse show cowl, pin it to the Launcher, or lengthen it to make your mind up out each and each displays. There’s also a helpful button above the touchpad that straight swaps the contents of your top and bottom show cowl and automatically resizes them to suit.

The ideal ScreenPad feature I ended up the use of frequently turned into activity groups — I made a neighborhood of “work” tabs to originate in the morning and a neighborhood of “leisure” tabs to originate at night. However all the things else did work as marketed. The most necessary takeaway right here is that Asus has done the work. The ScreenPad isn’t a gimmick; it’s noble.

That acknowledged, there are concerns.

Asus Zenbook Duo lid

Asus calls the coloration “celestial blue.”

For one, the keyboard deck is an uncomfortable situation for a show cowl. You contain to crane your head downward to be taught anything on the ScreenPad — the abet of my neck turned into sore after a beefy day of the use of the Duo.

Then, there are trade-offs you’d also contain to have faith to manufacture this make ingredient. For one, I never realized how tremendous wrist rests are till I had to utilize this notebook computer, which doesn’t contain any. I felt bask in a T. rex the use of this on my couch, with my palms crunched against my belly. There’s also the ErgoLift hinge which props the ScreenPad off the ground at an attitude. I don’t normally contain a topic maintaining fold-below hinges on my lap, but this one is awfully engaging. It turned into so uncomfortable that while I labored on the couch, I ended up maintaining the Duo between my knees. You if fact be told need to follow the use of this notebook computer on a table or desk, no longer your staunch lap.

After which there’s the touchpad which, attributable to the ScreenPad, has been crammed into the bottom exquisite nook of the keyboard deck. It’s ineffective. It’s too shrimp (2.1 x 2.7 inches) to realistically use for precision gestures or to scroll without rapidly hitting the chassis. (Also, correct luck should you’re left-handed). I don’t interact to utilize 1/3-occasion peripherals in my overview activity, but after I’d correct bought the Duo, I would contain straight plugged in a mouse and never seemed abet. I ended up the use of Asus’ stylus (which is soft and quite responsive) for famous of my day after day work and relating to all of my scrolling. I ponder if it’s even value having a touchpad on this instrument; I severely can no longer take into accounts somebody the use of this one frequently.

Asus Zenbook Duo keyboard and touchpad.

I manufacture bask in the typing experience of the keyboard, though it’s very laborious to utilize on my lap.

When it involves abnormal “notebook computer stuff,” the Duo is a suited pc, but there’s nothing that can blow you out of the water — but another time, the ScreenPad is the reason to lift it.

I contain the most productive currently readily accessible configuration, which is $1,499 and comes with Intel’s quad-core Core i7-10510U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU. The machine turned into correct honest for my day after day load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, Slack, YouTube, and diverse initiatives. The midrange Comet Lake CPU isn’t the ideal desire for encoding videos or diverse tense inventive initiatives, nonetheless — most energy users will be better noble to the ZenBook Professional Duo, which comes with an eight-core Core i9-9980HK and a more highly efficient graphics card. The Duo’s battery life turned into surprisingly correct, given that it has to juice two displays. I got correct over 10 hours of web browsing on the Battery Saver profile with each and each panels at medium brightness. And the machine saved itself decently frigid all the blueprint via testing (correct the bottom got occasionally toasty). The followers most productive fired up all the blueprint via gaming, and you can flip on a Silent profile in Asus’ adjust middle if they trouble you.

Ports accumulate a passing grade: there’s a USB 3.1 Kind-A port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack on the exquisite, as well to an HDMI, one other USB 3.1 Kind-A, an affect port, and a USB-C. No Thunderbolt 3, though, which is a glaring omission on a $1,499 notebook computer, ScreenPad or no ScreenPad.

At remaining, the Duo is a lot from a gaming machine. As GPUs plug, the MX250 is shut to the bottom of the barrel. Integrated graphics on many up to the moment processors (including Intel’s Iris Plus that comes with the Ice Lake technology, and the unique Vega graphics in the AMD’s Ryzen 4000 cell series) make comparably — so purchasing for laptops with underpowered graphics cards is making less and fewer sense.

Asus Zenbook Duo exquisite-facet ports

The ZenBook Duo has a microSD card slot, as a change of a beefy-size choice.

That turned into mirrored in my testing. The Duo most productive managed a median of 26fps on Civilization VI’s top settings. (I got 40fps bumping it all the system down to medium). Those are better frame charges than you’d also accumulate with integrated graphics, but they’re absolutely nothing to write dwelling about. The MX250 feels bask in a runt little bit of a 1/2 measure to me — both you desire a GPU or you don’t. Whenever you occur to don’t desire a GPU, then you definately don’t need an MX250; should you manufacture desire a GPU, I doubt you’ll be jubilant with these results.

The ScreenPad is helpful for gaming, in particular should you should aid a reference files originate or bustle a YouTube video at the same time as you play. Expose, though, that in case you click on the bottom show cowl you’re in actual fact tabbing out of the game — audio stops, and you’d also contain to click abet in to renew taking half in — so the use of the ScreenPad for operations bask in Discord chats or live-tweeting is a runt little bit of a agonize.

Whenever you occur to’d interact to sport on two displays, you’d also need to aid for Asus’ ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, a gaming-utter Duo that’s alleged to attain out later this 365 days and is also configured with up to an RTX 2080 Neat. Asus says it’s working with builders to have faith particular interfaces and controls noble to the dual-show cowl setup.

The actual fact is: I’m in a position to’t leer myself purchasing for this pc. The minute touchpad, the engaging hinge, and the inability of wrist rests correct made it too uncomfortable to utilize. And the MX250’s incremental development over integrated graphics isn’t satisfactory to tip the scales in its resolve on.

The trackpad is shrimp, awkwardly positioned, and correct frustrating to utilize.

However should you’re wanting namely for a two-show cowl instrument, this one works. It’s more than a occasion trick; it’s noble and there are frigid things you can manufacture. However I mediate the make ingredient is more healthy noble to a workstation (bask in the ZenBook Professional Duo) which is more likely to use most of its life at a desk with peripherals plugged in. I’m no longer sure if there’s a technique to have faith a Duo that’s also correct at being a transportable notebook computer. If there might maybe be, Asus hasn’t quite chanced on it.