Consumers have often been subject to many trade-offs when it comes to choosing a laptop. Pack in more computing power? Put up with a bulky form factor. Want a sexy design? Be ready to compromise on battery. Need a super-lightweight laptop? You’ll have to make do with a cramped keyboard. With one of its latest offerings - the Zenbook S 13 OLED - ASUS is aiming to satisfy a bunch of these needs so the consumer isn’t left wanting. Does it actually achieve what it has set out to do?
Weighing in a smidge over 1 kg with a magnesium-aluminum chassis, the ASUS Zenbook S 13 is great if you commute within the city quite a bit or travel on work frequently. Most times when I carried it with me to the office, I had to do a double take and check my handbag because it felt suspiciously light despite having the Zenbook S 13 in it. The form factor is also pretty sleek and compact, and doesn’t look bulky from any possible angle. The ErgoLift hinge allows me to push the display back to lay flush on my desk, on the same plane as the keyboard, which might be useful if you’re doing illustrations or using a stylus to take notes. ASUS has gone the minimal branding way, with a stylish new monogram now etched on the lid, which no longer sports the company’s full name. Hence, in terms of look and feel the Zenbook S 13 definitely impresses.
ASUS has been hitting it out of the park with its OLED touchscreen on a range of Zenbooks, and this one’s no different with its 2.8K high-resolution display. Although pretty compact at 13.3 inches, the super thin bezel really maximises the presence of the screen. The viewing experience is predictably good with the colours popping on the display. One fear that’s associated with OLED displays is the possibility of pixel burn-in. The company claims to have a bunch of precautions in place already, including the Pixel Shift technology that doesn’t let an image stay static on-screen for long. The Dolby Atmos support on the dual speakers work towards delivering pretty good sound, with a fair amount of depth.
Powered by an AMD Ryzen 6000 U CPU, the notebook didn’t have any lags while multitasking with writing documents and watching media. However, it is not really a dedicated gaming laptop, especially with its 60 Hz refresh rate. Most games I played were rendered best in the Low Graphics version and stuttered at higher graphics settings. The unit I reviewed had 16 GB RAM and had Windows 11 Home installed.
The webcam supports 720p images and the clarity of images, and videos during virtual meetings fell short of my expectations. Even in a fairly well-lit space, the images transmitted were a bit grainy.
I love the fact that there’s no compromise on the keyboard size despite being a thin, compact notebook. The NumberPad 2.0 functionality - where the touchpad doubles up as a virtual NumberPad - is a good option for those whose work involves a lot of calculations or data entry. The trackpad itself takes up a reasonable amount of space at the bottom of the keyboard, and is easy to scroll across.
In terms of physical connectivity, there are only four ports available - three Type-C ports and a headphone jack.
The unit packs in a 67 Wh battery and surprisingly kept me company for almost 7 hours on full charge on most workdays. This was how long it lasted with continuous, basic productivity usage - lots of writing, some reading, responding to mails and, watching HD videos for about an hour or less - with the brightness levels set to 60 per cent. Charging the Zenbook S 13 from dead (via USB-C) took a little more than 2 hours, With general use, I barely experienced any heating issues, which goes to say hardware design and thermal management are doing a good job of handling airflow.
Who is it ideal for?
At Rs 99,990, the Zenbook S 13 is clearly a premium notebook. A vivid OLED display, a responsive touchscreen, a super light-weight body and, understated yet fairly elegant design - all work to its advantage. Personally, I wish the pastel colour options were also available in India, which would have been a welcome break from the greys and blues. The ASUS Zenbook S 13, overall, might be a good fit for the modern jetsetter who needs a notebook they can count on, one that does its job well, while barely making its presence felt.