Updated: April 19, 2021 7:48:28 am
Dual-screen laptops have taken a long time coming, and while Asus’ last attempt was more of an experiment, the latest ZenBook Duo 14 seems pretty convincing when you know how to use it to the fullest. It feels a lot nicer to use as a daily driver, something the original dual-screen notebook lacked. The ZenBook Duo 14 ticks a lot of boxes, but is not without its flaws. Here are the good and bad aspects of the new ZenBook Duo 14 dual-screen notebook.
Asus ZenBook Duo 14 price in India (as reviewed): Rs 129,990
Asus ZenBook Duo 14 review: What’s new?
The ZenBook Duo 14 is a well-thought-out machine that is different from the notebooks I have used so far. Yet, it feels familiar. Asus has outfitted the notebook with a metal enclosure, which makes it a premium notebook. The lid has this nice brushed texture with trademark concentric circles pattern etched on top, along with the glossy silver Asus logo. While the ZenBook Duo 14 doesn’t qualify as ultraportable, it is less heavy and lighter than its predecessor. I was able to open up the Duo 14 wherever I am and write content or capture an idea. In fact, I could work on the ZenBook Duo even when I didn’t have a proper table in front.
The notebook has enough external connectivity ports, which is rare to find in a mainstream laptop these days. On the left side, we find an HDMI out port and a pair of dual Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, which use the USB Type-C connector. On the right side, Asus has included a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD reader, along a USB-A port.
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Asus ZenBook Duo 14 review: What’s good?
Open the lid of the notebook, and the ZenBook Duo 14 is a different laptop altogether thanks to its unique dual-screen design. The main screen is a 14-inch FHD (1920 by 1080 pixels) display with minimal bezels. The screen gets very bright and is perfect for multimedia use. The display also supports an active pen stylus which you get in the box.
The magic happens when you include the ScreenPad Plus – or the secondary screen that measures at 12.6-inches. It has an unusual 1920 by 515-pixel resolution, thanks to its unique shape. So when you open the Duo 14, hinges inside the notebook raise the ScreenPad Plus by 7 degrees. Although the continuity factor is missing, I still like how the 12.6-inch touchscreen rises from above the keyboard to get closer to the 14-inch display. This also helps in better airflow management.
Both screens have a 400-nit brightness, but I found the 12.6-inch secondary panel to be slightly dull. Though it’s absolutely fine for what it is intended to be; it’s essentially served as a secondary display. The idea of a secondary display makes a lot of sense, especially when you are working on multiple apps at the same time. I really enjoyed watching YouTube on the secondary screen, while editing the Google Doc on the main screen. There are different ways you can use the ScreenPad Plus.
Moving a window down to the ScreenPad Plus is as simple as dragging down to the secondary display. What I liked about the secondary screen is that it is ideal for those apps that I want to keep it accessible at all time like Spotify or TweetDeck. The ScreenPad makes more sense when you use it along with creative apps such as Adobe Photoshop or Premiere Pro. For instance, when you open Adobe Photoshop, you will notice a touch-friendly control pops up on the ScreenPad Plus. It’s not perfect, for sure. I did run into trouble when constantly switching between windows.
The ZenBook Duo is a fast machine. During my week-long testing, it ably dealt with anything I threw at it. More importantly, general day-to-day tasks are seamless too. It has more than enough power to handle an average day of work running a web browser, attending Zoom calls, listening to Apple Music, streaming Netflix, or chatting with friends and family on WhatsApp Web. The model I tested has a Core i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD. My review unit uses Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics, which offers a reasonable boost compared to integrated graphics on older machines.
As with any laptop, the battery life on the ZenBook Duo depends on what you’re doing with it. It has a long battery life that can keep up with day-to-day tasks. In my tests, the battery life lasted between eight and nine hours, which is good for a notebook with a dual screen.
Another thing I appreciate about the ZenBook Duo is its speakers. The Harmon/Kardon speaker produces well-balanced sound, good enough to fill my medium-sized room with sound. They are pretty great whether listening to music, streaming YouTube videos, or watching movies on Netflix.
Asus ZenBook Duo 14 review: What’s not good?
The concept of dual-screen works for me, but I had trouble adjusting to the keyboard and touchpad big time. The way the ScreenPad Plus is designed, there is no room for the keyboard deck or wrist rest. Frankly, the keyboard feels a bit cramped to me. The keyboard is comfortable for typing, though it’s still plenty usable overall. Then there’s this awkward, vertically-shaped touchpad, which is just very odd to use.
The Duo 14 is an impressive machine, but its unimpressive 720p webcam is a letdown. Though the HD webcam isn’t as bad you would get on other laptops in the same price bracket.
Asus ZenBook Duo 14: Should I buy it?
When I started using Asus’ ZenBook Duo 14 a few days back, I was under the impression that I would struggle to adapt to a new form factor. Although I did initially struggle, the transaction has been smooth so far. The idea of a dual-screen actually makes sense, though there have been few compromises made to the design which could have been avoided. That said, the ZenBook Duo marks a big change in the hardware and design of a traditional laptop.
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