Asus ZenBook Duo evaluate: two monitors, too many compromises

Asus ZenBook Duo evaluate: two monitors, too many compromises

There could be one — and handiest one — reason to snatch the Asus ZenBook Duo. Whenever you’ve seen a image, you know what that reason is: there are two monitors.

Particularly, there’s the main reward, a 14-mosey 1080p matte veil. There’s furthermore another reward, a 12.6-mosey IPS panel called the ScreenPad, constructed into the high 1/2 of the lower deck. Both are contact-enabled, and each support Asus’ entertaining stylus. It’s form of mighty to reveal what this appears treasure; you’ll fetch it whereas you leer it.

The $1,499 ZenBook Duo isn’t rather the handiest laptop treasure this — final 365 days’s ZenBook Expert Duo (of which right here’s a pared-down, portable version) provides the two-veil setup in a $2,500 workstation make, and a few equivalent concepts, similar to Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, are slated for liberate later this 365 days. For the second, though, the ZenBook Duo is perchance the most entertaining laptop for most customers who desire extra than one reward.

Aesthetic be obvious that you in fact desire the additional veil since the commerce-offs that you can want to make are most principal.

In difference to the MacBook Expert’s Touch Bar, or outdated ZenBooks treasure the Expert 15 that beget experimented with touchscreen trackpads, the ScreenPad has a quantity of obvious utilize cases, they usually work as neatly as they want to peaceable.

Asus Zenbook Duo

A fold-below hinge lifts the ScreenPad a slight off the bottom.

I mostly kept distractions treasure Slack, Twitter, and Spotify on the underside veil so that they were out of my strategy whereas I did my main work on the high, but I furthermore usually kept notes or assorted knowledge down there for reference. It is advisable to to well maybe well with out considerations message a friend whereas observing Netflix, edit video with the timeline on the underside, or trail a YouTube tutorial on the underside whereas running a game up high. I’m trail that you can leer your gain uses for this; it’s treasure having a shrimp, constructed-in video display. Teach, though, that the ScreenPad is runt and has a truly slim facet ratio, making it perfect superior to running streams within the background or stealing a beget a study Twitter right here and there; studying extensive or doing any real work on it’s rather tiny.

In Asus’ Launcher menu, which you open by tapping the left side of the ScreenPad, that you can fetch admission to a handful of nifty ingredients that eradicate advantage of the Duo’s make facet (as neatly as adjust the ScreenPad’s brightness and lock and liberate the keyboard). There are a pair apps, including Rapidly Key (where that you can fetch admission to shortcuts to instructions treasure lower, reproduction, and paste), Amount Key (which pulls up a virtual numpad), and Handwriting (where that you can scribble with the stylus and the text will reward up wherever your cursor is — it’s rather upright). It is advisable to to well maybe well construct “job teams” of up to 5 apps or tabs (two on the main veil and three on the ScreenPad), which that you can then open up later with a single click. And that you can add whatever apps it’s good to want to the Launcher’s main menu, so it’ll goal as a secondary dock.

Asus Zenbook Duo left-side ports.

The ZenBook Duo lacks a Thunderbolt three port, which is exasperating at this ticket point.

Shifting apps from one veil to the assorted is as straightforward as shifting them to an exterior video display. But there are some desirable strategies, too. At any time whereas you click and plod a window, a runt menu pops up with strategies to send it to the reverse reward, pin it to the Launcher, or prolong it to pick out each monitors. There’s furthermore a at hand button above the touchpad that without delay swaps the contents of your high and bottom veil and automatically resizes them to take a look at.

The handiest ScreenPad feature I stopped up utilizing continuously used to be job teams — I made a community of “work” tabs to open within the morning and a community of “leisure” tabs to open at night. But all the pieces else did work as advertised. The well-known takeaway right here is that Asus has performed the work. The ScreenPad isn’t a gimmick; it’s precious.

That acknowledged, there are considerations.

Asus Zenbook Duo lid

Asus calls the coloration “celestial blue.”

For one, the keyboard deck is an heart-broken situation for a veil. That you just must crane your head downward to read anything on the ScreenPad — the wait on of my neck used to be sore after a stout day of utilizing the Duo.

Then, there are commerce-offs that you can want to make to total this make facet. For one, I never realized how effective wrist rests are except I needed to make utilize of this laptop, which doesn’t beget any. I felt treasure a T. rex utilizing this on my sofa, with my palms crunched against my stomach. There’s furthermore the ErgoLift hinge which props the ScreenPad off the bottom at an angle. I don’t continuously beget a notify preserving fold-below hinges on my lap, but this one is rather provocative. It used to be so heart-broken that whereas I labored on the sofa, I stopped up preserving the Duo between my knees. You in fact desire to follow utilizing this laptop on a table or desk, no longer your real lap.

And then there’s the touchpad which, on legend of of the ScreenPad, has been filled into the underside upright corner of the keyboard deck. It’s ineffective. It’s too runt (2.1 x 2.7 inches) to realistically utilize for precision gestures or to scroll with out swiftly hitting the chassis. (Also, proper commended fortune for these who’re left-handed). I don’t want to make utilize of 1/three-celebration peripherals in my evaluate course of, but when I’d exquisite bought the Duo, I would beget without delay plugged in a mouse and never looked wait on. I stopped up utilizing Asus’ stylus (which is soft and rather responsive) for noteworthy of my day-to-day work and nearly all of my scrolling. I surprise if it’s even value having a touchpad on this gadget; I severely cannot imagine someone utilizing this one usually.

Asus Zenbook Duo keyboard and touchpad.

I enact treasure the typing ride of the keyboard, even when it’s very mighty to make utilize of on my lap.

When it comes to celebrated “laptop stuff,” the Duo is a righteous laptop, but there’s nothing that will blow you out of the water — another time, the ScreenPad is the reason to snatch it.

I beget the handiest currently accessible configuration, which is $1,499 and springs with Intel’s quad-core Core i7-10510U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU. The gadget used to be exquisite apt for my day-to-day load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, Slack, YouTube, and various initiatives. The midrange Comet Lake CPU isn’t doubtlessly the most entertaining decision for encoding movies or assorted traumatic ingenious initiatives, alternatively — most energy customers will seemingly be better superior to the ZenBook Expert Duo, which comes with an eight-core Core i9-9980HK and a extra highly efficient graphics card. The Duo’s battery existence used to be surprisingly proper, provided that it has to juice two monitors. I bought exquisite over 10 hours of web buying on the Battery Saver profile with each panels at medium brightness. And the machine kept itself decently frigid at some stage in making an are trying out (exquisite the underside bought once rapidly toasty). The followers handiest fired up at some stage in gaming, and that you can set off a Still profile in Asus’ support a watch on center if they disaster you.

Ports fetch a passing grade: there’s a USB three.1 Sort-A port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack on the upright, as neatly as an HDMI, another USB three.1 Sort-A, a energy port, and a USB-C. No Thunderbolt three, though, which is a glaring omission on a $1,499 laptop, ScreenPad or no ScreenPad.

At final, the Duo is noteworthy from a gaming machine. As GPUs saunter, the MX250 is shut to the underside of the barrel. Integrated graphics on many up-to-the-minute processors (including Intel’s Iris Plus that incorporates the Ice Lake generation, and the new Vega graphics within the AMD’s Ryzen 4000 cellular series) manufacture comparably — so buying laptops with underpowered graphics playing cards is making less and never more sense.

Asus Zenbook Duo upright-side ports

The ZenBook Duo has a microSD card slot, as a substitute of a stout-measurement option.

That used to be mirrored in my making an are trying out. The Duo handiest managed a median of 26fps on Civilization VI’s very best settings. (I bought 40fps bumping all of it of the device in which down to medium). These are better body charges than you would perchance maybe well maybe perchance also fetch with integrated graphics, but they’re indubitably nothing to jot down home about. The MX250 feels treasure a slight of a 1/2 measure to me — either it’s good to beget a GPU otherwise you don’t. Whenever you don’t desire a GPU, then you definately don’t need an MX250; for these who enact desire a GPU, I doubt you’ll be joyful with these results.

The ScreenPad is at hand for gaming, particularly for these who want to want to eradicate a reference handbook open or trot a YouTube video whereas you play. Teach, though, that while you happen to click on the underside reward you’re surely tabbing out of the game — audio stops, and that you can want to click wait on in to resume taking half in — so utilizing the ScreenPad for operations treasure Discord chats or live-tweeting is a slight of a wretchedness.

Whenever it’s good to want to game on two monitors, you would perchance maybe well maybe perchance also want to forestall conscious for Asus’ ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, a gaming-yelp Duo that’s supposed to come out later this 365 days and could well maybe even be configured with up to an RTX 2080 Tall. Asus says it’s working with builders to construct special interfaces and controls superior to the dual-veil setup.

Really: I will’t leer myself buying this laptop. The tiny touchpad, the provocative hinge, and the shortcoming of wrist rests exquisite made it too heart-broken to make utilize of. And the MX250’s incremental improvement over integrated graphics isn’t ample to tip the scales in its prefer.

The trackpad is runt, awkwardly positioned, and exquisite frustrating to make utilize of.

But for these who’re taking a look particularly for a two-veil gadget, this one works. It’s extra than a celebration trick; it’s precious and there are frigid issues that you can enact. But I dangle the make facet is extra healthy superior to a workstation (treasure the ZenBook Expert Duo) which is liable to exhaust most of its existence at a desk with peripherals plugged in. I’m no longer trail if there’s a technique to make a Duo that’s furthermore proper at being a conveyable laptop. If there could be, Asus hasn’t rather stumbled on it.