Asus ZenBook Duo evaluate: two displays, too many compromises
There is one — and only one — reason to buy the Asus ZenBook Duo. If you’ve seen a picture, you know what that reason is: there are two screens. Specifically, there’s the primary display, a 14-inch 1080p matte screen. There’s also another display, a 12.6-inch IPS panel called the ScreenPad 2.0, built into the…

There may be one — and handiest one — motive to preserve the Asus ZenBook Duo. For people who’ve considered a checklist, you understand what that motive is: there are two displays.

Namely, there’s the main picture, a 14-shuffle 1080p matte show. There’s also one other picture, a 12.6-shuffle IPS panel known as the ScreenPad 2.0, built into the tip half of of the lower deck. Both are touch-enabled, and every enhance Asus’ active stylus. It’s make of exhausting to show what this looks love; you’ll ranking it whenever you understand it.

The $1,499 ZenBook Duo isn’t comparatively the handiest computer computer love this — most enthralling 365 days’s ZenBook Authentic Duo (of which right here’s a pared-down, moveable version) gives the two-show setup in a $2,500 workstation make, and some identical ideas, similar to Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, are slated for open later this 365 days. For the moment, though, the ZenBook Duo is basically the easiest computer computer for heaps of customers who favor extra than one picture.

Perfect be sure that you surely favor the additional show on legend of the exchange-offs you’ll need to like are indispensable.

Not just like the MacBook Authentic’s Touch Bar, or old ZenBooks love the Authentic 15 that like experimented with touchscreen trackpads, the ScreenPad has a quite quite a lot of of evident spend cases, and they also work as properly as they have to.

Asus Zenbook Duo

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

I largely kept distractions love Slack, Twitter, and Spotify on the bottom show so they were out of my means while I did my main work on the tip, but I also from time to time kept notes or various recordsdata down there for reference. You also can without complications message a buddy while observing Netflix, edit video with the timeline on the bottom, or circulation a YouTube tutorial on the bottom while running a sport up top. I’m obvious you will be in a position to acknowledge your like makes spend of for this; it’s love having a small, built-in computer screen. Attach, though, that the ScreenPad is tiny and has a very narrow side ratio, making it easiest obedient to running streams in the background or stealing a take a look at Twitter right here and there; studying intensive or doing any proper work on it’s swish little.

In Asus’ Launcher menu, which you open by tapping the left side of the ScreenPad, you will be in a position to ranking entry to a handful of nifty functions that steal fair correct thing concerning the Duo’s make ingredient (as properly as alter the ScreenPad’s brightness and lock and release the keyboard). There are a pair apps, including Speedily Key (where you will be in a position to ranking entry to shortcuts to commands love lower, reproduction, and paste), Number Key (which pulls up a digital numpad), and Handwriting (where you will be in a position to scribble with the stylus and the text will picture up wherever your cursor is — it’s comparatively ethical). You also can develop “task teams” of up to five apps or tabs (two on the foremost show and three on the ScreenPad), which you will be in a position to then open up later with a single click. And likewise you will be in a position to add whatever apps you’ll need to the Launcher’s indispensable menu, so it would feature as a secondary dock.

Asus Zenbook Duo left-side ports.

The ZenBook Duo lacks a Thunderbolt 3 port, which is exasperating at this trace point.

Though-provoking apps from one show to the numerous is as easy as shifting them to an external computer screen. Nonetheless there are some clear strategies, too. Everytime you click and fling a window, a tiny menu pops up with alternatives to send it to the reverse picture, pin it to the Launcher, or lengthen it to buy every displays. There’s also a at hand button above the touchpad that without delay swaps the contents of your top and bottom show and robotically resizes them to compare.

The ideal ScreenPad feature I executed up utilizing many times used to be task teams — I made a team of “work” tabs to open in the morning and a team of “leisure” tabs to open at night. Nonetheless the entire lot else did work as advertised. The indispensable takeaway right here is that Asus has done the work. The ScreenPad isn’t a gimmick; it’s functional.

That said, there are complications.

Asus Zenbook Duo lid

Asus calls the coloration “celestial blue.”

For one, the keyboard deck is an depressed plan for a show. You wish crane your head downward to learn the rest on the ScreenPad — the encourage of my neck used to be sore after a paunchy day of utilizing the Duo.

Then, there are exchange-offs you’ll need to like to set up this make ingredient. For one, I never realized how nice wrist rests are until I had to make spend of this computer computer, which doesn’t like any. I felt love a T. rex utilizing this on my sofa, with my fingers crunched against my stomach. There’s also the ErgoLift hinge which props the ScreenPad off the bottom at an perspective. I don’t usually like a issue keeping fold-below hinges on my lap, but this one is terribly provocative. It used to be so depressed that while I labored on the sofa, I executed up keeping the Duo between my knees. You surely favor to persist with utilizing this computer computer on a table or desk, no longer your proper lap.

And then there’s the touchpad which, because of the the ScreenPad, has been crammed into the bottom agreeable corner of the keyboard deck. It’s ineffective. It’s too tiny (2.1 x 2.7 inches) to realistically spend for precision gestures or to scroll without swiftly hitting the chassis. (Moreover, agreeable luck whenever you happen to’re left-handed). I don’t steal to make spend of third-occasion peripherals in my evaluate task, but if I’d factual bought the Duo, I would like without delay plugged in a mouse and never looked encourage. I executed up utilizing Asus’ stylus (which is tender and comparatively responsive) for quite a lot of my day-to-day work and nearly about all of my scrolling. I ponder if it’s even worth having a touchpad on this instrument; I severely can no longer factor in somebody utilizing this one usually.

Asus Zenbook Duo keyboard and touchpad.

I assemble love the typing skills of the keyboard, even though it’s very exhausting to make spend of on my lap.

In terms of long-established “computer computer stuff,” the Duo is a certified computer, but there’s nothing that will blow you out of the water — again, the ScreenPad is the motive to preserve it.

I just like the handiest currently 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 system used to be factual shapely for my day-to-day load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, Slack, YouTube, and various duties. The midrange Comet Lake CPU isn’t basically the easiest quite quite a lot of for encoding videos or various disturbing inventive duties, on the opposite hand — most energy customers shall be better obedient to the ZenBook Authentic Duo, which comes with an eight-core Core i9-9980HK and a extra extremely fine graphics card. The Duo’s battery existence used to be surprisingly agreeable, provided that it has to juice two displays. I purchased factual over 10 hours of internet browsing on the Battery Saver profile with every panels at medium brightness. And the machine kept itself decently chilly all one of the indispensable best ways by trying out (factual the bottom bought from time to time toasty). The fans handiest fired up all one of the indispensable best ways by gaming, and you would be in a position to flip on a Mute profile in Asus’ preserve watch over center if they effort you.

Ports ranking a passing grade: there’s a USB 3.1 Kind-A port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack on the agreeable, as properly as an HDMI, one other USB 3.1 Kind-A, a energy port, and a USB-C. No Thunderbolt 3, though, which is a evident omission on a $1,499 computer computer, ScreenPad or no ScreenPad.

Finally, the Duo is some distance from a gaming machine. As GPUs inch, the MX250 is shut to the bottom of the barrel. Integrated graphics on many unique processors (including Intel’s Iris Plus that comes with the Ice Lake generation, and the unique Vega graphics in the AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile sequence) make comparably — so searching for laptops with underpowered graphics playing cards is making much less and no more sense.

Asus Zenbook Duo agreeable-side ports

The ZenBook Duo has a microSD card slot, in its set up of a paunchy-dimension probability.

That used to be mirrored in my trying out. The Duo handiest managed an moderate of 26fps on Civilization VI’s best settings. (I purchased 40fps bumping it down to medium). Those are better body charges than you may perchance ranking with integrated graphics, but they’re completely nothing to write dwelling about. The MX250 feels love barely a half of measure to me — both you prefer a GPU otherwise you don’t. For people who don’t favor a GPU, then you definately don’t need an MX250; whenever you happen to assemble favor a GPU, I doubt you’ll be blissful with these outcomes.

The ScreenPad is at hand for gaming, particularly whenever you happen to hope to preserve a reference manual open or flee a YouTube video at the same time as you play. Attach, though, that whenever you happen to click on the bottom picture you’re in truth tabbing out of the game — audio stops, and you’ll need to click encourage in to resume playing — so utilizing the ScreenPad for operations love Discord chats or are residing-tweeting is barely a anguish.

In roar so that you can sport on two displays, which you can must wait for Asus’ ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, a gaming-specific Duo that’s speculated to map encourage out later this 365 days and is probably going to be configured with up to an RTX 2080 Big. Asus says it’s working with developers to develop special interfaces and controls obedient to the twin-show setup.

In actual fact: I will’t appreciate myself searching for this computer. The little touchpad, the provocative hinge, and the shortcoming of wrist rests factual made it too depressed to make spend of. And the MX250’s incremental boost over integrated graphics isn’t adequate to tip the scales in its prefer.

The trackpad is tiny, awkwardly placed, and factual stressful to make spend of.

Nonetheless whenever you happen to’re trying particularly for a two-show instrument, this one works. It’s extra than a occasion trick; it’s functional and there are chilly stuff you will be in a position to assemble. Nonetheless I possess the make ingredient is better obedient to a workstation (love the ZenBook Authentic Duo) which is probably going to spend most of its existence at a desk with peripherals plugged in. I’m no longer obvious if there’s a mode to like a Duo that’s also agreeable at being a moveable computer computer. If there is, Asus hasn’t comparatively stumbled on it.