Asus ZenBook Duo review: two monitors, too many compromises

There may be one — and biggest one — reason to take hold of the Asus ZenBook Duo. When you’ve viewed an image, you already know what that reason is: there are two monitors.

Particularly, there’s the main express their own praises, a 14-skedaddle 1080p matte conceal. There’s also but another express their own praises, a 12.6-skedaddle IPS panel referred to as the ScreenPad, constructed into the head half of of the decrease deck. Each and each are contact-enabled, and each and each enhance Asus’ full of life stylus. It’s form of exhausting to express their own praises what this looks admire; you’ll glean it whenever you see it.

The $1,499 ZenBook Duo isn’t rather the correct laptop admire this — last one year’s ZenBook Genuine Duo (of which here’s a pared-down, transportable model) gives the two-conceal setup in a $2,500 workstation kind, and some identical ideas, equivalent to Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, are slated for initiate later this one year. For the 2nd, although, the ZenBook Duo is basically the most fine laptop for loads of customers who desire bigger than one express their own praises.

Lawful attach certain you the truth is desire the extra conceal since the commerce-offs you may maybe like to attach are necessary.

Now not like the MacBook Genuine’s Touch Bar, or outdated ZenBooks admire the Genuine 15 that glean experimented with touchscreen trackpads, the ScreenPad has a sequence of glaring exercise situations, and so they work besides to they’ll glean to restful.

Asus Zenbook Duo

A fold-beneath hinge lifts the ScreenPad quite off the bottom.

I mostly saved distractions admire Slack, Twitter, and Spotify on the backside conceal so they were out of my scheme while I did my main work on the head, nonetheless I also generally saved notes or other data down there for reference. It is likely you’ll per chance without anxiousness message a chum while searching at Netflix, edit video with the timeline on the backside, or circulate a YouTube tutorial on the backside while running a game up high. I’m certain you may maybe per chance maybe also see your glean makes exercise of for this; it’s admire having a tiny, constructed-in note. Notice, although, that the ScreenPad is tiny and has a extraordinarily slim ingredient ratio, making it most fine kindly to running streams within the background or stealing a detect at Twitter here and there; reading in depth or doing any proper work on it is moderately shrimp.

In Asus’ Launcher menu, which you initiate by tapping the left aspect of the ScreenPad, you may maybe per chance maybe also glean admission to a handful of nifty ingredients that desire attend of the Duo’s kind part (besides to alter the ScreenPad’s brightness and lock and unlock the keyboard). There are a couple apps, together with Rapid Key (where you may maybe per chance maybe also glean admission to shortcuts to commands admire within the reduction of, copy, and paste), Number Key (which attracts up a digital numpad), and Handwriting (where you may maybe per chance maybe also scribble with the stylus and the text will express their own praises up wherever your cursor is — it’s rather proper). It is likely you’ll per chance construct “job groups” of up to 5 apps or tabs (two on the main conceal and three on the ScreenPad), which you may maybe per chance maybe also then initiate up later with a single click on. And you may maybe per chance maybe also add no topic apps you admire to need to the Launcher’s main menu, so it’ll characteristic as a secondary dock.

Asus Zenbook Duo left-aspect ports.

The ZenBook Duo lacks a Thunderbolt three port, which is maddening at this tag point.

Sharp apps from one conceal to the other is as easy as inspiring them to an external note. Nonetheless there are some dapper suggestions, too. At any time whenever you click on and fade a window, a tiny menu pops up with choices to ship it to the reverse express their own praises, pin it to the Launcher, or lengthen it to have interaction each and each monitors. There’s also a helpful button above the touchpad that straight away swaps the contents of your high and backside conceal and automatically resizes them to compare.

The staunch ScreenPad characteristic I accomplished up utilizing continually used to be job groups — I made a community of “work” tabs to initiate within the morning and a community of “leisure” tabs to initiate at evening. Nonetheless the total lot else did work as marketed. The main takeaway here is that Asus has performed the work. The ScreenPad isn’t a gimmick; it’s functional.

That mentioned, there are complications.

Asus Zenbook Duo lid

Asus calls the color “celestial blue.”

For one, the keyboard deck is an downhearted predicament for a conceal. It be fundamental to crane your head downward to read anything on the ScreenPad — the help of my neck used to be sore after a rotund day of utilizing the Duo.

Then, there are commerce-offs you may maybe like to attach to attach that kind part. For one, I beneath no situations realized how fine wrist rests are unless I had to make exercise of this laptop, which doesn’t glean any. I felt admire a T. rex utilizing this on my sofa, with my arms crunched in opposition to my abdominal. There’s also the ErgoLift hinge which props the ScreenPad off the bottom at an angle. I don’t in most cases glean a scenario keeping fold-beneath hinges on my lap, nonetheless this one is rather fascinating. It used to be so downhearted that while I labored on the sofa, I accomplished up keeping the Duo between my knees. You the truth is would the truth is like to follow utilizing this laptop on a desk or desk, no longer your proper lap.

After which there’s the touchpad which, due to the the ScreenPad, has been filled into the backside proper corner of the keyboard deck. It’s unnecessary. It’s too tiny (2.1 x 2.7 inches) to realistically exercise for precision gestures or to scroll without fleet hitting the chassis. (Additionally, true agreeable fortune whenever you’re left-handed). I don’t admire to make exercise of 1/three-glean together peripherals in my review project, nonetheless if I’d fair bought the Duo, I’d glean straight away plugged in a mouse and beneath no situations appeared help. I accomplished up utilizing Asus’ stylus (which is delicate and rather responsive) for far of my everyday work and as regards to all of my scrolling. I marvel if it’s even price having a touchpad on this tool; I seriously can’t imagine somebody utilizing this one on a daily foundation.

Asus Zenbook Duo keyboard and touchpad.

I create admire the typing abilities of the keyboard, even when it’s very exhausting to make exercise of on my lap.

When it involves same outdated “laptop stuff,” the Duo is a agreeable computer, nonetheless there’s nothing that can blow you out of the water — again, the ScreenPad is the reason to take hold of it.

I glean the correct currently on hand 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 intention used to be fair supreme for my everyday load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, Slack, YouTube, and other duties. The midrange Comet Lake CPU isn’t basically the most fine various for encoding movies or other demanding inventive duties, nonetheless — most energy customers will seemingly be better kindly to the ZenBook Genuine Duo, which comes with an eight-core Core i9-9980HK and a more extremely fine graphics card. The Duo’s battery lifestyles used to be surprisingly true, on condition that it has to juice two monitors. I obtained fair over 10 hours of web buying on the Battery Saver profile with each and each panels at medium brightness. And the machine saved itself decently cool right thru attempting out (fair the backside obtained usually toasty). The followers biggest fired up within the course of gaming, and you’re going to also activate a Restful profile in Asus’ withhold watch over heart if they bother you.

Ports glean a passing grade: there’s a USB three.1 Form-A port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack on the proper, besides to an HDMI, but another USB three.1 Form-A, a energy port, and a USB-C. No Thunderbolt three, although, which is a glaring omission on a $1,499 laptop, ScreenPad or no ScreenPad.

In the end, the Duo is far from a gaming machine. As GPUs whisk, the MX250 is conclude to the backside of the barrel. Built-in graphics on many fashionable processors (together with Intel’s Iris Plus that comes with the Ice Lake abilities, and the contemporary Vega graphics within the AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile sequence) compose comparably — so procuring laptops with underpowered graphics playing cards is making less and no longer more sense.

Asus Zenbook Duo proper-aspect ports

The ZenBook Duo has a microSD card slot, in its place of a rotund-dimension option.

That used to be mirrored in my attempting out. The Duo biggest managed a median of 26fps on Civilization VI’s highest settings. (I obtained 40fps bumping all of it the scheme down to medium). These are better frame rates than you may maybe per chance maybe also glean with constructed-in graphics, nonetheless they’re and not utilizing a doubt nothing to write down residence about. The MX250 feels admire quite a half of measure to me — either you admire to glean a GPU or you don’t. When you don’t desire a GPU, then you surely don’t need an MX250; whenever you create desire a GPU, I doubt you’ll be delighted with these outcomes.

The ScreenPad is helpful for gaming, seriously whenever you admire to need to withhold a reference data initiate or flee a YouTube video when you play. Notice, although, that whenever you click on on the backside express their own praises you’re basically tabbing out of the game — audio stops, and you may maybe like to click on support in to resume having fun with — so utilizing the ScreenPad for operations admire Discord chats or are dwelling-tweeting is form of a disaster.

When you admire to need to game on two monitors, you may maybe per chance maybe also would the truth is like to attend for Asus’ ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, a gaming-particular Duo that’s alleged to come help out later this one year and would maybe be configured with up to an RTX 2080 Full. Asus says it’s working with developers to construct special interfaces and controls kindly to the twin-conceal setup.

In fact: I will’t see myself procuring this computer. The shrimp touchpad, the fascinating hinge, and the inability of wrist rests fair made it too downhearted to make exercise of. And the MX250’s incremental progress over constructed-in graphics isn’t sufficient to tip the scales in its desire.

The trackpad is tiny, awkwardly positioned, and fair frustrating to make exercise of.

Nonetheless whenever you’re attempting namely for a two-conceal tool, this one works. It’s bigger than a glean together trick; it’s functional and there are cool stuff you may maybe per chance maybe also create. Nonetheless I judge the shape part is better kindly to a workstation (admire the ZenBook Genuine Duo) which is susceptible to utilize most of its lifestyles at a desk with peripherals plugged in. I’m no longer certain if there’s a formulation to attach a Duo that’s also true at being a transportable laptop. If there’s, Asus hasn’t rather chanced on it.