It is no surprise that with work from home becoming common, and many students also attending online classes, the benefits of a dual-display really attracts the customers. However, portability is a big issue with attaching an external monitor to your laptop. Asus has launched their all-new Asus Zenbook Duo, a dual-display laptop, which is ultra-portable.
The secondary display of the laptop is built into the chassis of the laptop for that portability. The only compromise is the relocated keyboard and trackpad to adjust the secondary display on the laptop. So, is the Zenbook Duo worth the hefty price tag it commands? Are the relocated ergonomics of the keyboard and mouse worth the benefits of the dual display? Let’s find out the answers in this review.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Specifications
Asus Zenbook Duo comes in various configurations. The unit we received for review is powered by the 11th Gen Intel Core i7 1165G7 processor. It features a 14-inch FHD IPS panel along with a 12.65-inch IPS Panel for the secondary display. The laptop packs in 16GB of RAM and 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD. For graphics, it relies on the Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics card with 2GB VRAM.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Design & Build
The Asus Zenbook Duo stands out in terms of design. With the second display in rectangular shape placed above the keyboard, and the keyboard shortened and moved down and a small trackpad that looks minuscule by 2021 standards, the Asus Zenbook Duo is nothing like any other laptop in the market. It sure catches the attention of anyone who sees this.
The chassis feels solid in hand with plastic and metal combined to make the laptop for both durability and lightness. There is no flex on the laptop chassis anywhere, which is really great. The edges are contoured which make a nice gripping experience, however, the redesigned placement of the keyboard and trackpad means no armrest when using the keyboard or trackpad. More on that later.
The weight distribution of the laptop is good. With one finger, albeit with some force, you can easily open the lid that automatically lifts up the screen pad display upto an angle for comfortable viewing and usage. The hinge feels solid and it lifts up the laptop by a small angle and the screen pad by a great angle for great ergonomics. However, there is a small concern. Dust trapped inside the lift for the screen pad is impossible to clean without proper disassembly.
Overall, the build quality seems great. However, the secondary display at the position it is in, I would be worried about the dust jamming its lighting hinge, especially in places like Delhi-NCR where dust is really common in the air.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Display and Audio
Asus Zenbook Duo sports a 14-inch IPS LCD 1920x1080 primary display which is nice. There is also a 12.65-inch IPS LCD secondary display with a resolution of 1920x515 pixels. Both the displays are touch-enabled for easier usage and have a matte coating to avoid content from one display reflecting onto the other one.
The IPS LCD was bright enough and details were sharp. I do not have the right equipment to measure the colour accuracy of the display, however, I feel that the colours were pretty accurate. The matte finish over the display takes away some colour accuracy, but I don't mind it.
While gaming, I did miss the high refresh rate of my gaming laptop. However, if you are only looking for the laptop to get you through your work, then the 60Hz display won’t cause an issue for you.
One thing that annoyed me a bit, is that when I am watching a movie, I have no need for a secondary display and it stays there as a distraction. There is a dedicated button on the laptop to shut down the secondary display, but the image on the buttons reminds me of a button to turn off the trackpad and not the secondary display. If you are unable to find it, it's right beside the power button.
The speakers are great. If you are listening to music, or watching a movie, the speakers will suffice you enough.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Keyboard and trackpad
For people like me, a laptop’s keyboard is one of the most important aspects to look for. Our workload requires a lot of typing and a comfortable keyboard makes the job much less tiring.
Asus Zenbook Duo’s keyboard was quite satisfying and the key travel was good. The buttons are tactile and provide good enough feedback. However, typing on Zenbook Duo for any long duration is really uncomfortable. Due to the addition of the secondary display, Asus had to make a few changes to adjust the keyboard and the trackpad.
The keyboard is shifted all the way to the bottom. Due to that, there is no armrest when typing on this keyboard. It becomes really uncomfortable after 10-15 minutes as your arms are resting on the table, and there is a significant height gap between the keyboard and the table. The lip of the laptop is a bit lifted, which eats into your hands making it more uncomfortable.
The keyboard is pretty good, but the ergonomics and placement are really bad. If they had to adjust another screen in the laptop, this is pretty much the only way to go. If your workload requires typing for a long duration, this will be a really regretful purchase for you.
The trackpad glass seems quite sturdy and the clicks on the physical mouse buttons are satisfying. The trackpad during my testing was pretty fast, reliable and accurate. The DPI of the trackpad is not as high as I would have liked, but you can always increase the sensitivity of the mouse. Again, not to sound as a broken record, but due to the second display, Asus had to move the position of the trackpad. They made it smaller and moved it to the right side of the keyboard. Due to its small size and really unconventional position, it takes quite some time to get used to it.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Performance
Asus Zenbook Duo is powered by one of the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 processors paired with 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. While that may confuse you, it's the latest Intel Core i7 processor and a basic graphic card. For a laptop that costs so much, a proper graphic card was expected. It looks like Asus spent all the money on the dual display.
The laptop managed to easily complete all of the basic tasks I threw at it. I found no stutters even while having triple digits of chrome tabs open inside of a single window. So if your workload consists only of basic tasks, this would be a perfect laptop for you.
Now onto the more demanding tasks, gaming on the laptop is a big if, due to it not having a great graphics card. Basic games like CS:GO work perfectly fine, but many of the newer more demanding titles were not that great of an experience.
Android Studio is known as a CPU heavy workload and it also worked well, with the laptop able to easily handle app development and testing.
The laptop works quite well with workloads that are not GPU heavy. The thermals are great. Probably due to Asus adding fans in the space which gets good airplay when the hinge is up and the second display is lifted as a result.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Battery
Coming to the battery, the device features a 70Whr battery, which is really great. During daily usage with the workload including typing, browsing the internet and watching a few YouTube videos, which was easy to throw up on the secondary display while I worked, the device managed to provide me with a battery life of around 10 hours. Considering adding a second display takes up more power, this is a really good number.
The laptop comes with a 65W USB-C charging brick, which fills up the whole battery in a little less than 2 hours.
Asus Zenbook Duo Review: Verdict
Asus Zenbook Duo is priced at Rs 1,34,990 for our specification. At this price, the lacklustre graphics performance and the bad ergonomics of the keyboard and trackpad is a big disappointment. However, the portable dual-display laptop without a weird contraption is a good proposition.
Unless you have a clear use case scenario for the dual-display portable laptop, in which case The Zenbook Duo is your only good option, I would recommend getting yourself something like a Zenbook 14 or the M1 Macbook both of which will be a bit cheaper and offer better value for money.