Asus continues to build on its second screen concept for laptops with this year's ZenBook Duo 14 (UX482E). While the ZenBook 14 ScreenPad turned the touchpad into a secondary display, the Duo doubled down on this idea by adding a 12.6-inch touchscreen stretched across the top of the keyboard. This display is large enough to fit three decent-sized app windows. It's like the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar on steroids.
- 14-inch IPS touchscreen (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)
- 12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus
- Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics
The latest Duo improves on last year's version in several ways. Firstly, Asus has addressed the flaws of the original Duo (ScreenPad Plus looked dim and had poor vertical viewing angle) by increasing the screen brightness to a very decent 400 nits. More importantly, Asus has borrowed the screen-tilting mechanism from the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Thus, the ScreenPad Plus now tilts upwards by 7 degrees when the laptop lid is open, giving the illusion of a seamless display that combines the Duo's 14-inch primary screen with the 12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus. Asus says the tilt mechanism also improves the laptop cooling as the resulting rear opening acts as a giant air vent.
Of course, these tweaks would be moot if the actual ScreenPad Plus experience falls flat. Having used it for about a week, I am ambivalent about it. Yes, the extra display has its uses — from mirroring your phone's screen (when linked using the MyAsus app) to acting as a giant control panel for creative apps from Adobe (Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom, etc). I also liked how the ScreenPad Plus can easily be turned into a giant touchpad with a three-finger tap. But while the software and responsiveness of the ScreenPad have improved significantly over the past few years, this second screen takes up valuable space. It results in a cramped keyboard while the touchpad gets shunted to the right of the keyboard. For me, the downsides outweigh the benefits, though those looking for a mobile workstation may find the Duo ideal.
The ZenBook Duo strikes a balance between performance and portability with its hardware choices. It has a capable mobile processor in the form of Intel's 11th-gen Core i7-1165G7 chip. And while its GeForce MX450 graphics is just an entry-level model, it should suffice for editing graphics and videos. More importantly, Asus has equipped the Duo with a hefty 70 watt-hour battery. In my video-loop battery test, the Duo lasted a decent 6hr 40min with both the primary and secondary screens at maximum brightness. With the second screen turned off, the Duo's uptime went up to an impressive 8hr 52min.
At around S$2,500, the Core i7 Asus ZenBook Duo 14 justifies its premium price tag with its build quality, specs and performance. Especially if you believe you can make full use of the ScreenPad Plus. However, I highly recommend trying it out at an Asus Store because that second screen will divide opinions. Get the Duo at the Asus Store, Shopee or Lazada.
Note: Review set provided by Asus.
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