The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED isn't the first laptop to have a foldable display. But while its design doesn't stray too far from last year's pioneering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, the Zenbook has shown me that bigger is better. In this case, the Asus transforms from a 12.5-inch notebook into a something akin to a desktop all-in-one (AIO) computer. One with a 17-inch display, that is. Is it practical and usable? Just about. Is it something you should buy now? Well, if you don't mind paying over S$5,000 for being an early adopter, the foldable future is here now.
- 17.3-inch 2,560 x 1,920-pixel foldable OLED touchscreen
- Intel Core i7-1250U processor with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD
- Multiple usage modes
- 1.5kg (without keyboard), 1.8kg (with keyboard)
This Zenbook is essentially a 17.3-inch tablet with a foldable screen. It comes with a separate Bluetooth keyboard that fits nicely (magnets hold it in place) in between the two halves of the Zenbook when folded in its 12.5-inch form. It's a similar design as the ThinkPad X1 Fold, but larger. The Zenbook is relatively portable at around 1.5kg without the keyboard (1.8kg with). There are some nice touches, including a frosted reflective finish that catches the eye, and a faux-leather kickstand that props up the Zenbook in Desktop Mode. Everything feels well-built and solid, albeit on the chunky side. It's clear that Asus has accounted for durability with the thick protective screen bezels and bumpers at the right places. The foldable screen and hinge have also been tested for up to 30,000 cycles.
Asus says you can use its foldable Zenbook six ways. Besides the tablet, laptop (with virtual keyboard or with Bluetooth keyboard placed on top of the lower half of the screen), and desktop modes, you can also use it like a book with the screen folded halfway (Reader Mode). Lastly, Extended Mode uses the entire 17-inch OLED screen in portrait orientation, uncovered by the keyboard. Personally, Reader Mode isn't feasible because of the weight, while Extended Mode feels too niche. Desktop Mode is my favourite (and a real game-changing mode) since I can make full use of the screen. It's like a mini AIO PC that also happens to be portable. I also liked how I can snap the Bluetooth keyboard in place on top of the folded screen in Laptop Mode. But there's quite a bit of keyboard flex while typing due to the lack of support.
Of course, there's room for improvement. For starters, the Zenbook's IR camera is on your left side, and isn't above the screen in Desktop Mode. This can be awkward when positioning for face unlock or video calls. You'll have to charge the Bluetooth keyboard occasionally, and separately via its own USB-C port. It also goes to sleep after some inactivity, so I often had to toggle its power switch to wake it up. While the Zenbook can suggest certain split-window configurations when you rotate the device between portrait and landscape orientations, this pop-up option doesn't come up consistently. Also, when the Zenbook boots up, it hasn't loaded Windows 11 yet. So the computer uses the entire screen, even though it shouldn't because it's in Laptop Mode with half the screen covered by the keyboard.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED performs well enough for everyday computing tasks. Watching videos on its large and vibrant OLED screen is a real treat. The crease in the middle of the foldable screen isn't obvious, though you can definitely feel it. The speakers are also better than expected. Battery life, too, surpassed my expectations at 9hr 20min in our video playback test at maximum brightness. In short, this foldable Zenbook is — minor bugs aside — ready for the masses. But is the average user prepared to pay its steep asking price of S$5,499? It's available now from the Asus Store.
Note: Review unit provided by Asus.
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