Asus ZenBook Duo: The dual-screen delight

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on November 11, 2019

Innovative form, impressive gaming, multitasking capabilities and strong build make it one of the best laptops of 2019

Years ago when laptops and desktops introduced more than one workspaces users could toggle between using keyboard shortcuts, that sort of introduced a revolution in computer use. This reviewer, once a fanatic apostle of Linux operating systems and an avid fan of Ubuntu distro, thoroughly enjoyed working between multiple desktop spaces then and continues the practise even now. And that’s why when one heard computer maker Asus was planning dual-screen laptops, the news sounded so exciting that the very first thought that struck was of the ultimate possibilities an extra screen could bring to the table.

The ZenBook Duo (UX481) has two screens — well, sort of. The keyboard area features an extra slice of real estate that doubles up as an extension of the main desktop (screen). The bottom screen is touch-enabled and can perform a lot of functions. You can place application shortcuts there and launch them from the second screen, get an extended, enhanced view of whatever happens on the parent screen and thus. It is a delight to watch and use.

That said, getting it accustomed is quite a task. An average user will find it extremely difficult to figure out how exactly the second screen works. You may need a little more than the user guide to understand the nitty-gritty of the dual-screen ecosystem. There are some instructional videos available on the Web, which may come handy there. But once you’ve mastered it, it is quite a sight to see how the system works and soon you’ll get addicted to the new environment so much so that any single-screen laptop would make you search for that little extra rectangular glow at the bottom of the main screen.

The ZenBook Duo stands a notch below its stronger, better-looking and higher-priced cousin the Zenbook Pro Duo and at a price tag of nearly ₹90,000 targets the upper-premium market. The laptop comes in a neat, beautiful packing and unboxing is a breeze. You’ll notice the size and weight of the laptop the moment it’s taken out of the packet. This is a sturdy and super-compact laptop that feels strong in your hands. It looks and feels great. Yes, at 1.5 kg, this is not a light laptop by any comparison and feels heavier as you negotiate it away from a table or sitting space.

Great display, good view

The laptop has a great display even for the higher price tag. It has a compact 14-inch screen that supports Full HD (1920 x 1080), with a 16:9 slim-bezel NanoEdge display. The thin bezel is impressive; it comes at 3.5mm, with a screen-to-body ratio of 90 per cent. That means very little screen real estate is compromised. The display is true-to-life and blemishless. The refresh rates are so good that you can easily use the Duo for some serious gaming and graphics editing. If you’re a film editor looking for a strong MacBook alternative, this easily fits your bill thanks to the great speed with which it edits images and videos. The video-playback is crisp and there are no lags or bleeds.

The laptop features the 178° wide-view technology; a blessing while more than one people are using it for watching videos or presentations. Everyone gets the full, honest view of the content on screen.

The ZenBook Duo (UX481) comes with a Celestial Blue finish and runs on Windows 10 Home edition. It is supported by an Intel Core i7-10510U processor (1.8GHz quad-core) with Turbo Boost (up to 4.9GHz) and 8MB cache. There is another variant that has Intel Core i5-10210U processor (1.6GHz quad-core) with Turbo Boost (up to 4.2GHz) and 6MB cache. The device’s graphics department is backed by NVIDIA’s GeForce MX250 with a dedicated video memory of 2GB (GDDR5 VRAM). The ZenBook Duo comes with a 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM (there is an 8GB variant as well). It has a storage of 1TB high-speed drive (512GB in the low-end version). The GeForce MX250 is a slight disappointment as it is an entry-level graphics processor which is good with games that do not require extreme fast refresh rates or computing power.

Thanks to such a robust hardware muscle, the ZenBook Duo offers great performance on almost all fronts. Gaming, routine multitasking, imaging, movie post-production, spot-editing, the ZenBook Duo meets most of your requirements suitably well.

Voice and noise

The ZenBook Duo has an audio faculty that’s okay-okay. There is nothing great about it. It doesn’t disappoint you and when using earphones the output is quite impressive. Technically speaking the device has Asus’ own SonicMaster stereo audio system with surround-sound; there is a smart amplifier for maximum audio performance. The array microphone supports Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana and Amazon Alexa. The infrared HD Camera with facial login supports Windows Hello, but the quality is poor.

The device has two Type-C interfaces and one Type-A slot. The touchpad is located on the right-hand side. This too requires some tuning from the user’s side as most of us are used to the touchpad being under the keyboard. The keyboard of the ZenBook Duo is backlit and the keys, though tightly packed, are easy to deal with. In sum, the ZenBook Duo is a compact beast that can be your gaming, multitasking partner.

Price: ₹89,990

Pros: Superb display, great power and performance, dual-screen, innovative features, wise use of screen real estate

Cons: Heavy, poor camera, audio speakers need improvement, a little over-priced

Published on November 11, 2019

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