With the ZenBook Duo, Asus provides two-screen laptops for the general public (from $ 1,499). The new laptop swaps the “Pro” for a much cheaper price, but almost all have the same functionality as its more expensive family member. Instead of two 14-inch 4K panels like the ZenBook Pro Duo, the ZenBook Duo has a 14-inch 1080p display and a secondary 12.6-inch panel. That is ours Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review.
The duo is a device you will be proud of. If you do this, people will be amazed by the beautiful color and second screen, also known as ScreenPad Plus. Awe of the extra screen makes people in electronics stores reach for the duo, but the ScreenPad is much more than a spectacle. It is a useful tool for creatives and business users who want to get the most out of the screen.
Add high performance and long battery life to the mix, and the ZenBook Duo is a dream come true when you crack spreadsheets or edit videos. To make such a unique device, Asus had to compromise the keyboard and touchpad, so you have to consider whether the ZenBook Duo is the right device for your needs.
|Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 technical data|
|CENTRAL PROCESSOR:||Intel Core i7-10510U|
|Warehouse:||1 TB SSD|
|Display:||14 inches, 1080p + 12.6 inches|
|GPU:||NVIDIA GeForce MX250|
|Battery life:||9:44 (ScreenPad Plus switched on); 11:51 (ScreenPad Plus off)|
|Size:||12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches|
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: design
I keep moving my eyes between the metallic dark blue aluminum and the additional pixels on the deck that are coming towards me. It’s an eye-catching design that will satisfy your creative side without drawing your attention to the use of overly showy things. The ZenBook Duo is between navy, forest green and teal (Asus calls it sky blue). When the light shines just right, the laptop looks like a glittering jewel.
On the lid of the Asus ZenBook Duo are the characteristic concentric circles from Asus and a stylish silver Asus logo. There is an additional lip on the back of the laptop, which is held under the ZenBook Duo when the lid is open. This tilts the keyboard down for a more comfortable typing position and notches the second screen for a better viewing angle.
I’ll go into the displays, keyboard, and touchpad below, but their uniqueness affects the design. The second screen occupies the top half of the duo deck, while the keyboard is at the front (closest to the user) and a vertical touchpad with discrete clicks on the right.
There is a wide range of connectors for the ZenBook Duo, but all premium laptops must now have a Thunderbolt 3 connector to increase the transfer speed and connect to multiple 4K monitors. On the right side of the duo there is a USB 3.1 Type A connector, a microSD card and a headphone / microphone connector. On the left side of the Zenbook Duo are an HDMI connection, a USB 3.1 input, an HDMI connection and a Type-C USB input.
The ZenBook Duo is not the thinnest or lightest 14-inch laptop on the market. It’s pretty rough compared to other 15W laptops. At 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches and 4 pounds, the Asus ZenBook Duo is thicker and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 (14 x 9 x 0.6 inches, 3.5 pounds) and the Lenovo Yoga C940 (12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inch, 3 pounds).
Keyboard and touchpad
I love this keyboard, but I hate its positioning. The same applies to the touchpad, which I will complain about later. Right now I’m going to focus on the wasted potential of the duo’s keyboard. Instead of the middle or the back of the laptop deck, the keyboard of the ZenBook Duo is located in the front of the deck. This causes some problems. First, there is no place for your wrists. It’s not a big problem on a desk, but typing with the ZenBook Duo on my lap was frustrating because I had to hold my wrists in the air or drop them under my fingers so I could rest them on my thighs.
The other big problem with a front-facing keyboard is that the touchpad can’t stay where it belongs. The ZenBook Duo is also spinning. There is a vertical touchpad on the right side of the deck. The small size of the touchpad (2.1 x 2.7 inches) causes my fingers to overlap on the deck every time I press three fingers to zoom or type. On a positive note, the touchpad clickers feel good, although it can be difficult to reach them.
I can’t blame Asus for moving the keyboard to the ScreenPad Plus, but I can’t ignore the resulting compromises either. And that’s a shame, because the keyboard of the ZenBook Duo is otherwise fantastic. The buttons are snappy, nervous and have a sweet, audible click when operated. I also find some of the keyboard shortcuts that Asus added, like turning off your webcam or opening MyAsus by tapping a key.
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 test: display
We aim this section at the primary 14-inch full HD display (1080p). The colors of a matte panel are more saturated than usual and the details are sharp. And while I want Asus to use brighter screens, the ZenBook Duo touchscreen effectively reduces annoying reflections.
When I watched a trailer for proximity, I could see the lowercase letters on an old videotape with kidnapping pictures, and the salt and pepper strands in Don Scribner’s beard were clearly defined. The colors jumped off the screen more than I expected given the matte finish; The forest foliage was lush green, while the dining room chairs had that nostalgic retro pumpkin orange hue. I also appreciated the precise white balance in a scene in a white room with people wearing ivory robot-like spacesuits.
When we measured the color coverage with a colorimeter, the ZenBook Duo display captured 107% of the sRGB area. This is a decent result, but it doesn’t quite match the average of the premium laptop (123%) and doesn’t belong to the same class as the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 (158%). The ZenBook Duo can easily turn off the Lenovo Yoga C940 (104%).
Asus continues to keep the brightness of its laptop displays relatively low, even on high-end computers. The same applies to the ZenBook Duo screen, which only reached 282 nits and was surpassed by Flex 15 (381 nits or 565 nits when outdoor mode is activated), Lenovo Yoga C940 (339 nits) and the average laptop category (368 nits) . The Asus ZenBook Duo makes up for this with its matte surface that improves outdoor visibility.
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: ScreenPad Plus
The ZenBook Duo’s 12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus is an updated version of the secondary display we saw on the ZenBook Pro Duo for the first time in 2018. Asus has made many useful changes since this first attempt. There are some nice things you can do with the secondary panels, and some of the built-in functions are useful. The user interface and the stability of Asus’ custom user interface have also come a long way. Still, I hope Asus finds a way to improve the angle of the panel, as it can be difficult to tell if you’re not hanging over it directly.
Opening the main menu is as easy as tapping an arrow on the left side of the screen. From the App Launcher menu, you can open an app called Quick Key that you can use to cut, copy, paste, undo, and use commands much more often. Other Asus apps include a handwriting application for drawing or jotting down notes, a numbers app that calls up a virtual numpad, and an icon for quick access to MyAsus, AppDeal, and Spotify. With the Task Force icon, you can open up to 5 apps with a single keystroke (two on the main screen and three on the ScreenPad Plus). There are also buttons for moving windows and changing the brightness of the second control panel.
Deleting an app from the primary screen to the 12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus is as easy as dragging the app onto a floating icon that appears when you adjust the window. When you drag an app’s title bar, three options appear: Start on ScreenPad Plus, Pin on ScreenPad Plus Launcher, or display on both screens. It is an intelligent system that works flawlessly and immediately.
I had no problem putting a datasheet on the ScreenPad Plus so I could read information and write an embarrassing article on a laptop. It was like having a second monitor that saved me at least 15 minutes and made my job a lot easier. I also used the ScreenPad Plus to stream music, change titles, and adjust volume without having to search for Spotify among the dozens of Google Chrome tabs I opened.
Other practical uses for the ScreenPad Plus include video and photo editing – the timeline or controls appear on the bottom screen – and games where you chat on the bottom screen and play on the main screen.
The secondary screen is not quite bright or vivid on paper, but personally looks better than what our colorimeter clocked. The screen covers 67% of the sRGB color gamut and touches 272 nits of brightness, the last of which was a problem when I used the laptop outside.
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: audio
I was disturbed by the funky beats of John Mayer’s “Assassin” and forgot that the sound came from a laptop, not a Bluetooth speaker. Drum hits were overwhelming and the percussions were bright and clear. The midrange was the real highlight, with Mayer’s gentle vocals in the center. Although they aren’t particularly loud, the double speaker on the front of the duo filled my little office with ease.
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: graphics
In terms of graphics performance, the GeForce MX250 GPU from Nvidia was integrated as closely as possible into the ZenBook Duo. This was shown in our benchmarks when the Asus ZenBook Duo raced across the Dirt 3 range at 106 fps and the Galaxy Book Flex 15 (52 fps, GeForce MX250), the Lenovo Yoga C940 (51 fps, Intel Iris Plus) and the Laptop category exceeded average (64 fps). In the 3DMark Fire Strike test, this was just as good with a stroke of 2,769 compared to the 2,215 of the Galaxy Book Flex 15 and the 2,138 of the Yoga C940.
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: performance
Compared to the ZenBook Pro Duo 45W chips, a 15W processor may be used, but the Intel Core i7-10510U CPU with 16GB of RAM in the ZenBook Duo did an excellent job with my demanding daily work. Dozens of open Google Chrome tabs and various apps like Play Music and Slack have not slowed down the laptop for a moment.
Even if I tried very hard to find the break by buffering four 1080p YouTube videos and a Twitch stream in total, the ScreenPad Plus also responded; I didn’t notice any delay when switching between screens or loading apps.
The ZenBook Duo scored 16,719 points in our Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, which is too low for the Galaxy Book Flex 15 (19,137, Core i7-1065G7) and Yoga C940 (18,672, Core i7-1065G7). It is also just below the average of the premium laptop (17,336). In the more demanding Geekbench 5 test, the ZenBook Duo scored 3,981 points and again could not keep up with Galaxy Book Flex 15 (4,416), Yoga C940 (4,055) or the category average (4,208).
The ZenBook Duo converted 4K video in 19 minutes and 3 seconds (with the handbrake app) to a resolution of 1080p. This is faster than the Galaxy Book Flex 15 (22:18) and the Yoga C940 (19:32), but not the average (18:37).
The 1 TB SSD in our ZenBook Duo UX481 was able to duplicate around 5 GB of multimedia files very quickly. The task took only 5 seconds to complete, which corresponds to a transfer rate of 958.4 megabytes per second. Somehow, even this fantastic result is not at the top of this list. The Flex 15 stole the price at a speed of 1,379.2, while the Lenovo Yoga C940 (1,017.9 Mbit / s) was also four digits at the top of the list. Each of these devices exceeds the average of the premium laptops (658.3 MBit / s).
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: battery life
When I first saw it Asus ZenBook Duo, my first thought was how bad the battery life of the dual displays should be. I was wrong. With both displays activated, the ZenBook Duo lasted 9 hours and 44 minutes in our battery test and was constantly surfing the Internet via WLAN. When we turned off the secondary display, the laptop went back the distance at 11 hours and 51 minutes. These are some incredible results, although the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 (15:44) and the Lenovo Yoga C940 (11:46) were ready for the test. All three laptops survived the category average (9:07).
Cool as a cucumber after playing a 15-minute 1080p video; The ZenBook Duo reached a maximum temperature of 97 degrees. If we don’t, that’s above our 95-degree comfort threshold, but there’s no need to worry, especially since the keyboard (82 degrees) and touchpad (83 degrees) felt cool.
Pricing and configuration options
The ZenBook Duo is currently sold in a single configuration. For $ 1,499, you can buy the same device that we tested. It has a 14-inch full HD (1080p) touchscreen (and a secondary 12.6-inch display), a Core i7-10510U CPU, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD. and Nvidia’s GeForce MX250 graphics.
Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 review: conclusion
The Asus ZenBook Duo is not as powerful as the ZenBook Pro Duo, but offers practically the same functionality at a relatively low price. This makes the duo a better option for everyone except the most demanding power users. First of all, you have to decide whether the ZenBook Duo is suitable for you or whether a more conventional laptop such as the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 or the Lenovo Yoga C940 is more suitable. If you spend your time editing videos or just need more screen space without buying an external monitor, the ZenBook Duo is an obvious choice.
For $ 1,500 (half the price of the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo), the ZenBook Duo offers fast performance, longer battery life, and a functional secondary display in a nice design. However, the ZenBook Duo is far from perfect. Asus has made compromises with the keyboard and touchpad to use the secondary screen. The duo is also coarser and heavier than other 14-inch laptops. Therefore, it is not the best portable notebook. However, if you are working at a desk or working remotely and can buy an external keyboard and palm rest, it is difficult to find a better laptop than the Asus ZenBook Duo for this price.
8th total score
The ZenBook Duo from Asus is an innovative laptop with strong performance and a secondary 12.6-inch display at a reasonable price.
- The lively 14-inch matt display
- The functional second 12.6-inch screen
- Great job
- Long battery life
- Stunning color ‘Celestial Blue’
- Fatter, heavier than rivals
- Cumbersome keyboard positioning
- Narrow trackpad
- No Thunderbolt 3 ports