Asus experimenting with two-screen laptops began two years ago. The positive user response has prompted the company to continue to evolve this design, so the latest version of the ZenBook Duo comes as a truly impressive piece of technology.
|Display||Glavni: 14” / Full HD (1.920×1.080) / IPS|
ScreenPad Plus: 14″ / 1.920×551 / IPS
|Processor||Intel Core i7-10510U 1,8-4,9 GHz (4 jezgre / 8 threadova)|
|Graphic card||Nvidia GeForce MX 250 2 GB|
|Memory||2 × 8 GB LPDDR3|
|Disk||512 GB SSD NVMe PCIe 3.0 x2|
|LAN/WiFi/Bluetooth/4G||No / Yes / Yes / No|
|Video Port||HDMI 1.4a|
|Connectors||1 × USB 3.2 Gen1|
2 × USB 3.2 Gen2
1 × USB-C 3.2 Gen2
|Extras||Reader microSD card|
|Dimensions||323 × 223 × 20 mm|
|Operation system||Windows 10 Home|
The latest version of Asus laptop with 2 Screens ‘ZenBook Duo’ notebook, equipped with a secondary screen, is available in two basic sizes: the ZenBook Duo Pro with a 15.6-inch display and the ZenBook Duo with a smaller 14-inch screen. The latter came to the trial in a configuration that combines a Core i7 processor from the Comet Lake U family, 16GB of memory, a 512 gigabyte SSD, and a separate GeForce MX250 graphics card with its own 2GB of memory.
It should be noted that the configuration of the ZenBook Duo components does not have much variation. There are variants with i5 processor, 8 GB memory, 256 gigabytes, or one terabyte SSD.
The case of the laptop is blue and there are no other colors available so far. The construction uses aluminum sandblasted finish, so the metal has a matte finish and is very comfortable to touch. The lid of the laptop is noticeably thinner than the base, which makes it possible to detach the laptop with one hand. This of course also affects its strength. Yes, it bends slightly when subjected to torsion, but the back of the LCD panel is well insulated so there is no image distortion when pressed. Anyway nothing problematic.
The cover is pulled from the back over the edge of the base, which is quite an interesting approach, and the reason is not purely aesthetic, but the lower part of the cover is used to lift the base of the laptop from the desktop. This has achieved two things – better cooling due to easier air intake into the computer’s cooling system, and a higher keyboard tilt toward the user for easier typing.
ONE AND A HALF
As we can see, Asus’s evolution of the concept of using two screens has resulted in the rather radical design of the new ZenBook Duo. The secondary screen, called ScreenPad Plus, is no longer paired with the touchpad, but has been given a complete upper half of the device case.
The upper 14-inch screen has Full HD resolution, while the lower 14-inch screen has the same width (1,920 pixels) but about half the height (515 pixels), which is why both screens have the same pixel density. Windows of course supports both screens, upper one is selected as the primary, and the secondary functions as its extension. A big part is played by Asus software, which extends the standard functionality of the Windows 10 interface.
Whenever a user clicks on the title bar of any window in the OS and starts dragging the window, an additional menu opens with three icons – App Switcher, Add and ViewMax. Dragging a window to the App Switcher maximizes that window to the opposite screen. The same function is also available to us via the dedicated key on the keyboard, located above the touchpad .
The Add icon allows you to add an application that we scroll to Launcher – the interface element available on the bottom left screen. The third icon, ViewMax, makes it possible to maximize windows on both screens at the same time, effectively expanding the height of the window – handy for surfing the Internet, working in documents or programming.
If we manually drag the application to another screen, we can of course maximize it again or set it to occupy half or a third of the bottom screen. Screensaver is a Windows interface option (the application is dragged to the right or left edge of the screen, or the Windows key and left or right arrow keys are pressed simultaneously), while splitting the screen in thirds is an option added by Asus software. At the top edge of the lower screen, three bright spots appear to indicate where the window to activate the function should be dragged.
An additional element of the interface on the lower screen is the Asus Launcher, which is hidden on the left edge of the screen. As the screen is touch sensitive, it is thoughtful to call it with a finger. This is where the application list appears when you open it, as long as we have additional features in the column closer to the edge of the screen.
The application list is used to quickly launch them, and we can rearrange it and add new shortcuts to applications just like on a mobile phone. There are also several special applications. Quick Key lets you create virtual keys that can be a combination of real keys, and it’s very useful to bind different sets of virtual keys to specific applications.
Furthermore, there is a Handwriting application that transforms the complete lower screen into a writing surface with a digital pen that comes with the device. The application relies on Windows Ink, so we can write in any language supported by Windows. In addition to this application, there is an additional keypad lock function so that you do not move the keys while typing.
The lower screen is further customized to use a pencil using a different, less smooth protective glass. It’s also a double-edged sword – it’s more natural to use a pen for more resistance, but the screen is more granular. The pen can theoretically be used on the primary screen, which is also touch sensitive on our model (there is also a laptop variant without this option), but this is not practical because the screen cannot be fully rotated or rotated 180 degrees.
Additional features in the column to the left of Launcher are in the order – Brightness, Task Group, Task Swap, App Navigator, Keyboard Lock and Settings. Task Group is a particularly interesting feature because it allows you to capture the layout of windows and applications in the interface and to re-invoke the same configuration of the work environment by activating a single icon.
Of course, we can have more work profiles like this recorded. Task Swap replaces applications and windows active on monitors. App Navigator displays a list of windows active on the secondary screen, Keyboard Lock software disables the keyboard, and Settings leads to additional Launcher setup options.
THE EXACT COLORS
The main Full HD resolution screen, measuring 14 inches, is very good in terms of display quality. Asus boasts a Pantone Validated badge, which will say that Pantone, known for its color calibration system, has confirmed that the screen can accurately display colors.
In practice, this means that it covers 100% of the sRGB color palette (AdobeRGB is covered by 75%), which is more than what most screens on modern laptops can offer. The ZenBook Duo, therefore, stands out as a great choice for photographers, cameramen, designers and any professional or user who matters the accuracy of color rendering.
The gamma curve of the screen is set to 2.2, which is excellent, and the white dot temperature is quite stable at 7,200 to 7,300 K at usable backlight levels. The display temperature is cooler than the ideal 6,500 K (daylight heat), which was not expected given the target audience of the laptop. The maximum brightness in the center of the screen is 300 cd / m 2which probably goes a bit lower after manually calibrating the white dot heat to 6,500 K using a colorimeter.
The angle of view of the screen is very good, and an additional plus is that its surface is not protected by glass but has a matt finish, so there are no problems with reflections of the environment. The bezels around the screen are very thin (3.5mm), so the screen-to-body ratio is 90% excellent. The top bezel has a webcam with IR illumination, which is necessary to support authentication via Windows Hello – thumb up for Asus.
The secondary screen is not as good as the primary screen, which is noticeable without the use of the instrument. The colors are cooler, the sRGB coverage of the colors is smaller, the maximum brightness is lower, and there is a graininess at the expense of the use of a matte protective glass coating. While it is a nice gesture by Asus that the laptop comes with a digital pen (which is quite good in itself), using it in combination with a laptop does not make much sense to most users.
These pens are a useful accessory on convertible laptops that can be turned into a tablet by rotating the screen 360 °. With ZenBook Duo this is not possible, so you will not use the pen on the primary screen. Use on the secondary screen only makes sense for text input, but this is a far more convenient keyboard in this format.
We mentioned that we had already had a chance to try out one laptop with a secondary screen at the top of the base. HP’s Omen X used this space very inefficiently by implementing a small 16: 9 classic screen, forcing designers to lower the keyboard to the bottom edge of the base and move the touchpad to the right of the keyboard. Of course, due to the identical location of the secondary screen, the Duo applied the same layout of the input peripherals.
When a laptop is used on a desk, this layout is no problem as the keyboard acts like any separate keyboard with no palm rest. On the other hand, this is a lightweight 14-inch laptop that targets users who travel a lot and need a compact yet powerful and high-quality device that they will always have with them. Using a laptop on the wing works well, as our hands are laid on our thighs, but using it on an airplane or in a similarly cramped place will be challenging.
The keyboard itself is mechanically executed very well, with classic square keys of solid stroke depth (1.4mm) and white back-light. The tested device is equipped with a keyboard adapted to the domestic market so that there are also domestic signs, laser engraved so that they are no different from other keys.
Still, due to the compact body dimensions and the fact that it is a touchpadlocated in the same plane as the keyboard, some keys are reduced – primarily the left and right Shift keys, and to a lesser extent both CTRL keys. The cursor keys are pushed to the rest of the keyboard and have a secondary function – quick document navigation.
Basically, it is a mechanically well-executed keyboard that requires some getting used to due to the reduced size of some keys, but which is not practical to use when using the laptop in any cramped space where there is no room for palms to hang.
The touchpad is rotated 90 ° due to the location on the right side of the keyboard, which is unusual, but in practice it works quite fine, especially if we keep in mind that the screens are stacked one below the other. It relies on Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers for very good touch detection, minimum latency, and 100% gesture support to control the Windows 10 interface.
Below the touchpad, there are separate left and right-click keys, and three buttons above it for editing application between screens, turning off the secondary screen, and turning on the laptop.
Below the touchpad we can also see the Harman Kardon inscription. Asus Audio Team The Golden Ear, in collaboration with Harman experts, has developed an audio system for this device, which is made up of a combination of speakers, amplifiers and software. The result is a very impressive sound quality, which definitely sets this laptop apart from most devices of similar dimensions.
The base of the device is also made of aluminum, and Asus even boasts that the ZenBook Duo meets certain specifications of the MIL-STD-810G standard, prescribed by the US military.
Specifically, it was tested for fall from a height of 10 cm on both sides four times, vibration test (5-500 Hz, 3 axes, two hours of cherry per axis), high altitude test (stored at 40 thousand feet at a temperature of -30 to 60 ° C, active up to 15,000 feet at 5 to 40 ° C), high temperature test (stored 35 to 71 ° C for seven days, active from 32 to 48 ° C for three days) and a low temperature test (stored at -33 to -25 ° C for 7 days, active from -32 to -21 ° C for three days). In any case, the case gives the impression of quality workmanship, and meeting the MIL-STD standard is an added plus. website.
We find the following ports on the sides of the device. On the left are the round dedicated power port, HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen2 and USB-C 3.2 Gen2. On the right are USB 3.2 Gen1, a headphone connector, a microSD card slot, and two leds to indicate battery and power status. This is solid, but on a laptop of this class and price, we also expect support for Thunderbolt 3, or at least charging via USB-C connectors.
The lack of support for Thunderbolt 3 is, in a way, the result of choosing a processor. Specifically, although the ZenBook Duo is based on a 10th-generation Core processor, it uses 14-nanometer models from the Comet Lake U family, not the 10-nanometer Ice Lakes that have integrated Thunderbolt 3 support. Comet Lakes have higher CPU performance, cheaper and easier to get, so it is in a sense clear why Asus took this route.
The tested device is equipped with Core i7-10510 – a quad-core processor with support for Hyper Threading, a base clock speed of 1.8 and a maximum of 4.9 GHz. It is paired with 16GB LPDDR3 2133 memory that works in dual channel mode and a discrete GeForce MX250 graphics card with its own 2GB GDDR5 memory.
|Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWL||HP Spectre x360 13 (2019)||Lenovo ThinBook 15||Asus ZenBook UX481FL|
|processor||Core i7-8565U (15 W)||Core i7-1065G7 (15 W)||Core i5-10210U (15 W)||Core i7-10510U (15 W)|
|Digital Content Creation||3.168||3.571||3.264||2.776|
The performance of the processor in practice could be even higher, which is likely to be blamed for poor cooling implementation.
In our table, you can see a comparison with HP’s 13-inch Specter that comes with the Core i7 Ice Lake processor and Lenovo’s 15-inch ThinkBook that has a Comet Lake-based Core i5 processor. In both cases, the multi-core performance of the Cinebench R20 is higher with other devices, especially when it comes to the ThinkBook, an otherwise significantly cheaper laptop.
ZenBook’s graphical performance is not such as to please gamers, but the MX250 offers noticeably better performance than regular Intel integrated graphics. More specifically, it offers slightly better performance than Intel’s Iris Pro, the strongest graphics variant available on Ice Lake processors, with the added bonus of higher-quality drivers and dedicated video memory.
The tested model is equipped with a 512-gigabyte lower-performance NVMe SSD that is connected to the system via a PCIe x2 interface. The PCIe x4 interface is available internally, as Asus also has a laptop variant with a 1TB SSD with an x4 interface. It should be noted that SSD is the only component that can be replaced independently by the user as the others are soldered to the board. Access to the interior of the laptop is possible by unrolling a set of torxscrews, as visible as possible, hidden by rubber plugs.
Much of it is occupied by a huge 70-watt battery. Because of this, this laptop can offer the user an extremely long time of autonomy. It ran 12 hours and 21 minutes in our test, which is better than virtually all laptops we’ve had so far to test. It should be noted that the secondary screen was switched off when testing the battery while the primary screen was set to a brightness of 190 cd / m 2 . If the secondary screen were on, autonomy would certainly be several hours shorter, but this is still a very good result.
As you can see, Asus has really worked hard to add options to maximize the use of the secondary screen. Even without these additional features, the secondary screen is a useful and welcome addition, and this is how it is all raised to a higher level. The addition of a secondary screen has been similarly addressed by other companies, such as HP on the Omen X, but while the aforementioned HP laptop is a nice, but rather meaningless addition, the new ZenBook Duo boosts 14-inch productivity laptop to a whole new level.
The ZenBook Duo is not perfect. We would like the secondary feature screen to be the same as the primary, Thunderbolt 3 or at least USB-C charging capability, and even better cooling to ensure optimal processor performance. Despite these shortcomings, the ZenBook Duo offers a great combination of features in terms of price, and the implementation of the extra screen makes it an extremely interesting and unique solution for users who use multiple screens in their daily work who want a similar portable solution. Therefore, it deserves a recommendation.
- Very good primary screen
- Extra screen on the top half of the base
- Software implementation of an additional screen
- Quality of workmanship
- Metal housing
- Great speakers
- Very impressive battery and autonomy time
- Good keyboard and touchpad
- Wi-Fi 6 network card
- A solid supply of ports
- Digital pen in packaging
- Quiet work
- Windows Hello compatible webcam
- No Thunderbolt 3
- Poor cooling
- Very limited upgradability (SSD only)
- Lowered keyboard and touchpad impractical to operate in some conditions