There are concept devices that are ‘Work in progress’ and then there are concept devices that are ready for the real world. After more than a week with ASUS’ ZenBook Duo 14 , I can safely say that this one’s ready to roll. Many of us are working longer hours than we used to, we can blame WFH for that. It also means that any device that can enhance your productivity is likely to get attention in a post-pandemic world where our lives largely involve juggling multiple screens. The ZenBook Duo 14 packs two screens and ASUS believes it could not have come at a better time, a time when many of us have two screens open during a crazy WFH day.
As the name suggests, the ZenBook Duo’s USP is a dual-screen that opens up a plethora of possibilities. The primary screen – a 14-inch Full HD display, is almost frameless. This NanoEdge display is vibrant and has ultra-slim bezels that stretch the screen: body ratio to an impressive 93%. The 12.65-inch secondary display opts for a matte finish that’s not as bright as the primary screen. We dig this new tilting ScreenPad Plus, the secondary touchscreen automatically tilts up to a 7° angle, reducing glare and reflections for improved readability. This is a welcome change from the previous edition that opted for a flat-screen.
These displays are almost seamless allowing easy multitasking. The new secondary display or the ASUS ScreenPad Plus is powered by the new ScreenXpert 2 software. Control Panel is fully customisable and it works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Premiere Pro and After Effect.s ASUS offers a whole host of customisations that allow you to get the most of the second screen and the screen pad. It’s particularly useful for designers who work with Photoshop, think of it as a more handy version of the MacBook Pro Touch Bar. ASUS has is opening up the ScreenXpert App for third party apps; we could see more developers adding compatible apps soon. The other handy add-on is stylus support allowing further flexibility for creative users. ASUS bundles the stylus in the box.
The ZenBook Duo is a hardware powerhouse. No surprises here. There’s 16GB of RAM and 1TB of internal memory, the device is propelled by the latest 11th Generation Intel Core processors. Boot times and app loads were lighting quick in our tests. Cooling is another box this notebook ticks – the ZenBook Duo is engineered with the new Active Aerodynamic System Plus system, which uses the ErgoLift hinge mechanism and tilting ScreenPad Plus to increase overall cooling airflow by up to 49%. The device is 3mm thinner than its predecessor. It weighs 1.6 kg which is impressive for a dual-screen device and yet heavier than many of its rival, slim 14-inch notebooks.
The ZenBook Duo offers multiple connectivity options – there’s a pair of the latest Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, an HDMI 1.4, an audio jack and a microSD card reader. Audio gets a boost with Harman Kardon certified Audio. The sound quality is excellent but not super loud. It adds to the entertainment creds of this device. While ASUS claims 17 hours of battery life, this varies depending on your usage and your brightness settings across both screens.
The ASUS ZenBook Duo is a great advert for a dual-screen laptop. It does take a while to get accustomed to the second screen. The dual display coupled with the touchpad does shrink the size of the keyboard and cramp you for room. But it might be a worthy trade-off for groups of users who need to frequently work with two screens or designers who will appreciate the increased flexibility and productivity with design apps like Photoshop. It’s clearly one step into the future and yet practical for real-world usage.
The ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 (UX 482) starts at Rs 99,990.