Asus’s dual screen offering does not dazzle as it should, but holds utility for a limited segment.
Dual-screens are in vogue. Phone companies are vying for it—Samsung released its revamped Galaxy Fold, while Huawei featured its Mate X this year—and so are laptop brands. In March this year, HP became the first brand to launch a dual screen laptop (Omen X 2S), but the latest to come out with an offering, in this range, is Asus. It recently launched two variants of Zenbook Duo to compete with the likes of HP and Microsoft. Although the two variants have dual screens (1.5 actually), the specs for each are different, and Zenbook to make things easier has done an Apple for names. The Zenbook Pro Duo comes equipped with a 4K UHD Nanoedge OLED HDR (whew) display and a pinching price tag of Rs. 2,09,990.
Design and ergonomics
The device has an all-metal clam-shell design. The metallic look does give it a premium feel, but it is slippery too. And, at 2.5kgs, there is a good chance you may drop it. The lower panel, though, was not as clean and neat as you would expect. This is one laptop which is not really a laptop. Given that a portion of the top body buckles under the lower one to give it an elevated position, it can’t really be used in the lap. Two, the bezels in the inside display look odd—most laptops today come with bezel-less design. The keyboard is spacious. The tracking pad was not as responsive, but did work fine in certain situations. The masterstroke was integrating a numerical keypad in the trackpad.
Given that Asus has loaded the laptop with a lot of screen acronyms, it does not disappoint. The screen is bright and has vivid colours. The blacks were a bit of a problem, and at full resolution you would not want that. But it was still better than many of its competitors in the price range. The refresh rate ensured that games ran well, but it is still not a gaming laptop. For Photoshop or any video editor—I used DaVinci Resolve—the screen worked well. The second screen is not as bright, and sits at an odd angle fading the colours. While it was not the same resolution as the main screen, full screen mode in certain apps turned irritating. For some reason, the second screen does not act as a separate panel, but gets merged with the main screen in certain cases. Full screen mode was rendered useless in certain apps. The touch was also not as responsive and I found myself struggling with switching screen drag feature. The switch screen assist button is a face saver for Asus.
While the screen is excellent, for a laptop that touts to be for professionals, the sound is disappointing. During the period I was reviewing it, I had a Galaxy Fold. The sound on the phone was much more than the laptop. In fact, sound performance for Asus paled in comparison to most devices.
This and accessories is one segment where Asus beats everyone. The laptop comes with a keyboard rest, and a stylus. The stylus works really well and when you are working on a desk, the keyboard rest has great utility. Although hand-writing recognition was not as advanced, the stylus was a good use in Paint.
It has a 32GB RAM, an i9-9980HK processor, a 1TB SSD and a NVidia GeForce RTX 2060 card. What all that means is graphics are excellent and the computer would not hang. That is certainly not the case. Graphics are indeed good and gaming on this laptop is as good as any other laptop device, but it can’t keep pace as far as smooth functioning is concerned. The laptop hangs a lot, and a lot of it has to do with the second screen. At times, it would not do basic word processing with internet and a few applications. The second screen does accommodate apps and is helpful for multi-tasking but if you are not a professional how much of a multi-tasking can you do? More important, battery life is a disappointment. With gaming it topped at 3-4 hours, with video it was 6-7 hours and regular functioning was 8-9 hours. The charger was in itself a mountain to carry, and added to the weight of the device.
The laptop is designed for professionals. It is not a laptop, it is a workstation. If you are short of a workstation, Asus does tick all the boxes, except for the battery. But this is certainly not the best dual screen laptop, and dual screen laptops by the looks of it still have a long way to go before they are perfected and apps have an ecosystem ready for them.