Asus updated its dual-screen ZenBook Duo and Zenbook Duo Pro laptops at CES 2021, and even though the show is happening almost this year, the Gadget 360 was able to spend a little time with a demo unit. The ZenBook Duo Series now has an internal and an auto-tilt mechanism updated that enhances their secondary screen to a more comfortable viewing angle. The original ZenBook Duo Series was first unveiled at Computex 2019, after which Asus showcased its ROG Zephyrus Duo based on rugged design, but with an enhanced secondary screen to help with airflow and ergonomics. That small modification has now made its way into the ZenBook lineup, and it makes a huge difference.
The large secondary screen, called Asus ScreenPad +, extends the width of the lower half of the Zenbook Duo. This matches the horizontal resolution of the main display so that you can treat it like a second monitor that aligns vertically rather than horizontally. With the original Zenbook Duo, the screenpad + was flat and keyboard compliant, making it a bit harder to use. When I reviewed that laptop, I found myself hutching and leaning forward. The new system solves that problem to an extent.
Asus combines its ‘ergolift’ hinge action, which elevates the entire lower deck with this new auto-lift mechanism, so that the ScreenPad + automatically opens automatically when you open the lid. The angle goes up to 7 degrees and is not adjustable beyond that. Thankfully, the raised panel is unclear at any angle below the main screen. My demo unit came with a stylus, and the screenpad + did not flex or bend when pressed down.
The mechanism feels sufficiently solid, but it looks like it may be damaged if you try to close the laptop’s lid, as if done accidentally with a pencil under the screenpad +. There should not be much danger of pinching the finger but it would be a good idea to handle this laptop slowly. I’m a little wary of dust and lint, as this difference is relatively narrow and looks like it would be harder to clean, but Asus includes a protective sleeve.
Both the main display and the screenpad have matte finishes that reduce reflections to some extent. The resolutions are 1920×1080 and 1920×515 respectively. For internal hardware, we have an 11Th General Intel ‘Tiger Lake’ CPU with integrated Intel Xe graphics and an optional discrete Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. My demo unit has 32GB of RAM and 1TB NVMe SSD, but exact specifications will vary.
The ZenBook Duo UX482E has an Intel Evo sticker, which means it is designed to meet a set of requirements in terms of weight, performance and battery life. It is 16.9 mm thick and has relatively narrow screen boundaries, with space for a webcam in the usual place. Asus claims a 17-hour battery life, and this laptop can be charged on USB Type-C.
There are two Type-C Thunderbolt ports and a full-size HDMI port on the left, plus one Type-A port, 3.5 mm audio socket, and a microSD card slot on the right. The keyboard layout has been improved compared to the first generation, and we now have a more sensible arrow cluster and the shift keys are in the right place. There is still a vertical trackpad that will not suit left-handed users. In terms of comfort, the keyboard is right on the lower edge of the body which can become uncomfortable over time.
Asus has improved its software, and you can easily transfer programs from one screen to another. You can set up batches to launch multiple programs and tile them automatically on two screens. Both are touch-enabled so the ScreenPad + can act as a control surface in some software.
For all, Asus has refined the design of its original Zenbook Duo series, and the new model should be more practical for everyday use. Information about pricing and availability in India is not yet known. Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for news of its launch in India.
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