- Dual Display Goodness
- Pantone Calibrated Primary Display
- Good Speakers
- Decent Specification
- Justifiable Price Tag
- Still no SD Card Slot
- Soldered RAM
Back in Computex 2019, we got to check out the all-new ASUS Zenbook Duo series, which happens to be the successor to the Zenbook Pro that went live last year. That said, ASUS Malaysia has graced us with their new Zenbook Duo for us to take it for a spin – with a lot of interesting upgrades over the previous generation – is the Zenbook Duo a worthy laptop? Here’s our final thoughts on the dual display behemoth.
Look and Feel
The ASUS Zenbook Duo has a lot of change going on aesthetically. Gone are those days with a very traditional laptop design and comes a very edgy and angular finish – which is sharp and elegant. On the top, the ASUS logo is now in an off centered location but still retains the signature ZenSpiral design that looks good on any kind of light as it spirals around. The edgy design we mentioned earlier isn’t there just for show, but it comes with a purpose. As you open up the lid, the laptop lifts up and rises the second display and keyboard – as if its on an incline for easy use case scenario – we have seen this ErgoLift design on their previous generation laptop but the Zenbook Duo has a higher angle than usual. There’s a good reason for that.
The fact that the keyboard is now positioned at the lower region makes it a little harder to type on a surface. Therefore, making it inclined not only gives better comfort but also easy reachability to other keys and even the second display as well. If the incline isn’t enough, ASUS has included an extra accessory in the box that allows the laptop to have a better incline. The trackpad is located on the right side. Other than that, the laptop feels solid, thanks to its complete metallic finish going on. The Zenbook Duo is relatively light and easy to bring around and I had no issue carrying it with me on trips. Not to forget, it comes with a nice White Sleeve to protect the laptop from any sort of scratches.
Specification and I/O
The ASUS Zenbook Duo we received from ASUS Malaysia was the baseline configuration and it has the following specification:
- Intel 10th Generation Core i5 Processor
- 8GB LPDDR4 RAM (Soldered)
- 512GB PCIe Gen3x2 NVMe M.2 SSD
- NVIDIA MX250 Graphics with 2GB GDDR5
- 11ax WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0
As for the I/O, the Zenbook Duo packs the exact amount of ports as the previous Zenbook 13 Series with was unveiled not too long ago. On one side, we have a Full-Size USB-A, 3.5mm Headphone/Microphone Combo jack, a Micro SD Card slot with the battery indicator. On the other side, there’s a Barrel connector for charging, HDMI, another Full-Size USB-A and a USB-C with no Thunderbolt support. For a laptop that’s focused on creators, it feels a little redundant to have a Micro SD Card slot instead of a full-sized SD card slot which I am sure is a lot more beneficial.
In terms of performance, you can expect the Zenbook Duo to offer the best in class experience – hands down. There are certain things I wished was better – for one – the only thing that’s upgradable on the Zenbook Duo is just the SSD and the RAM is no way upgradable making it hard to add more especially if you want more memory to process your videos on Premiere and so on. We benchmarked the laptop on PCMARK 10, and it scored 4148 respectively and tested Geekbench 5 on the device as well. In order to verify the specification, we used CPU-Z to check out what’s under the hood. The laptop can handle day-to-day task like a champ and I used it to edit on my Lightroom – with the usual delay in starting up which happens on all laptops, it was completely fine and I was able to export the images with minimal issue. Thanks to the proper thermal solution, the fans kicked in the moment the laptop detected demanding apps running on the machine – like Lightroom and a little bit of Overwatch. Speaking of Lightroom, this is where we have to talk about the display because that’s the key feature of the Zenbook Duo.
Starting off with the main display, the Zenbook Duo features a 14.0” Narrow Border Display with a resolution of 1920×1080 in a 16:9 aspect ratio. It comes with an anti-glare coating on the display making it easier to use on the move – especially under bright light conditions. Just like the last year’s Zenbook Pro, the Zenbook Duo displays are Pantone Calibrated – which means it offers the best in class color for creators who rely on software that require color accuracy such as Lightroom, Premiere Pro and the list goes on. Watching any kind of content on this display is pure bliss – because colors were just too nice to the eye and thanks to the ASUS App baked right into it, you can switch between profiles depending on what kind of work you do. Other than that, watching shows on Netflix, really does take advantage of the display making content pop and pleasing to the eye. ASUS always get’s their display right on Laptops and the Zenbook Duo is no exception.
ScreenPad+ | The Second Display
Let’s talk about the main highlight of the Zenbook Duo – the reason behind that name. The ScreenPad Plus – the second display that hovers above the keyboard and below the primary display. Before we even jump into this thing – we have to give credit to ASUS on cramming two displays into a laptop with very limited footprint – trust me, 14” Laptops from ASUS are relatively smaller than the competitors out there.
The display on the bottom is a Full HD Display with a ratio of 32:9 aspect, making it ultrawide. That said – the ScreenPad+ has an antiglare coating on top and it supports touch input, not to forget Windows Pen support which is included in the box. The Zenbook Pro we saw last year had a ScreenPad in the trackpad, while it was an interesting concept – the use case for that laptop was relatively limited and felt gimmicky.
This time around, we hoped for a change and ASUS gave us exactly that. The second display works exactly like a secondary display on a desktop with extended Monitor but the ScreenPad+ comes with extra goodies. For one, it has a Panel with features like Quick key, Handwriting, Number Key, MyASUS, Spotify as well. You can even drag applications from the main screen over to the secondary screen. As for creators, like myself – I used the second display to display my Lightroom Library giving me more room to edit and play with. What was thought to be gimmicky, turned out to be useful in my opinion.
During my time using it, I really took advantage of the ScreenPad+ with the Pen input – making jotting on Sticky Note easy, opening up e-mails, switching between songs and doing work or play. The touch input was responsive and neat. ASUS also included an option to disable the keyboard to write on the screen – and this is really useful. They have given a lot of thought in making this display and it’s definitely a good move.
Under the hood, the Zenbook Duo is powered by a 4-cell battery that charges via a 65W AC Adapter. The laptop can surprisingly charge in just about 2 hours and during my time using it – with the ScreenPad turned on all the time and switched to Battery Saver mode, the laptop was able to last easily about 6-7 hours with no editing on the move but just a bit of Netflix and getting work done. I think its decent. The 65W Power Brick is so small that it’s so easy for you to carry around with no hassle.
Here’s one recommendation ASUS could really use – its about time to phase out the Barrel DC Charger for USB-C Power Delivery as it brings more flexibility to the table – while it may take a while for this happen, it would have been nice to at least see a USB-C Power Pass through and honestly I really hope the next generation gets it.
Keyboard, Trackpad, Speaker and Security
The Keyboard on the Zenbook Duo is a Chiclet style Keyboard with a shorter key-travel and this time they have changed the font on the keyboard for a much elegant and clean look. That said – typing on the Zenbook Duo did take a bit of time to get adjusted as the keyboard is positioned below the ScreenPad+ and if you have used the Zephyrus, you will know how difficult it is to use. Once you get the hang of it, typing on the keyboard is alright. The trackpad on the Zenbook Duo is located on the far right and it has dedicated Left and Right button which makes me jump in joy. While it only has very limited room to maneuver – it still works as it should and most of the time, you would end up using an external mouse.
The laptop no longer features a bottom firing speaker. As it has a very angular finish, they have managed to fix the speakers on the side and there are no muffled sounds or a need to place on an incline. The sound quality from the Zenbook Duo is crisp, clear and nice to listen to – thanks to Harman Kardon’s magical touch.
The Zenbook Duo does not feature a Fingerprint Sensor but has an IR Face Scanner – Windows Hello for secure login and authorization. It’s extremely fast and responsive – even under lowlight.
Let’s be real for a second here, ASUS happens to be one of the very few brands out there that thinks out of the box. The Zenbook Pro is a perfect example. They have managed to rectify changes from the previous generation and the Zenbook Duo fixes a lot of shortcomings, making it a better, functional laptop. What shocks me to the core is how affordable the Zenbook Duo is – coming in at a price of RM4699 for the variant we reviewed here. If there’s a laptop that’s truly meant for creators that hits all the box, the ASUS Zenbook Duo is what you need, and we can vouch for that.
We at The Adventures of Vesper award the ASUS Zenbook Duo a Gold Award for being an innovative laptop.