The Asus Zenbook Duo is a laptop that has two screens. Not in a foldable kinda way or two screens that open up but rather one normal screen and a second display that sits where your keyboard would be.
So what happens to the keyboard you ask? That is still there but in a more awkward, almost falling off position but that’s something we’ll talk about much later in the review.
In brief, Asus has built a laptop with creatives and multitasking gurus in mind. The Zenbook Duo offers top of the range specifications but with a little bit of compromise here and there to differentiate this laptop with the pro version.
So before we get into the review, here’s what you get in terms of specifications:
- 14″ 1080p Main display + a 12.6″ secondary ScreenPad+ touch display
- Intel Core i5 or i7 10th Gen processor
- NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card
- 8GB or 16GB RAM
- 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
- 70W Battery
- Windows 10
What We Liked
Dual Display – ScreenPad+
So the highlight of the Asus Zenbook Pro is not the beefy specifications it packs but rather the two displays that give it the “DUO” name. We have the main display which comes in at 14-inches and looks big due to the minimal bezels around it.
This beautiful, bright screen is complemented by a secondary display which is the reason you buy this laptop. So why would anyone need a second screen on a laptop?
The ScreenPad+ comes in at 12.6-inches with touch capabilities. Which means it provides quite the space to work with, without squeezing everything on your main screen. For video and photo editors who use Adobe suite, the second screen can be easily used as a sequence/editing tools section leaving the main screen as the monitor. The same applies to artists and even writers, especially with the included stylus pen.
Interestingly, the second screen doesn’t only come into use when it’s time to work but it’s also a good tool for play. I found it particularly useful for placing a music playlist and YouTube videos you don’t want to actively watch but listen to as you work on other things on the main display.
Asus has also inbuilt a number of features into the ScreenPad+, for instance you can use it as a secondary screen to multitask or simply connect both screens and use them as one massive display – which earns you massive cool-factor points.
There are keyboard shortcuts that also make it easy to use the ScreenPad+, you can press a key to switch apps between the two displays or press another key to turn off the ScreenPad+ completely off when you’re not using it.
Laptop battery life is something else that we consider when picking out our next devices. The Asus Zenbook Duo has an uphill task since it has two displays that it needs to keep running. However, despite this task, we found the battery life on the Zenbook Duo to be quite satisfying.
From our test and usage, the laptop lasted around 10 hours with no battery saving settings, and moderate usage such as music playback, YouTube, and a lot of typing. During this test, we also used the secondary display for around 2 hours and had the keyboard backlight constantly on until the laptop ran out of juice.
Charging up the laptop takes longer than we would like but if you’re one to keep it charged, you won’t have any issues. On top of the stellar battery life, Asus has some neat battery settings that allow you to change to what capacity your laptop charges as a means of reducing charging cycles and thus prolonging the battery health of the device.
Other Little Things
You know how you would love something just because of the little things that add up to a great experience? Well, that’s the same thing we would say about the Asus Zenbook Duo. Here are a few of such things:
The hardware specifications of the laptop are able to handle heavy tasks without breaking a sweat.
The webcam has an in-built IR camera which creates a seamless experience unlocking the laptop using Windows Hello. This may sound like nothing to write home about but flipping up your laptop and being signed in without the need to type a password is pure bliss.
The Zenbook Duo features Asus’ ErgoLift design which elevates the laptop at an angle while in use to ensure cooling efficiency.
There are more than enough ports, 2x full USB ports, a HDMI port, a USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and even a MicroSD card reader that we quietly wish was a full-size instead.
Good audio quality with Harman Kardon tuned speakers which produce some neat bass thanks to their downward-facing placement. However, note that this placement means that they don’t get as loud but at least they sound good.
Asus software that brings vast features to the laptop such as changing your charging mode (as mentioned earlier), fan mode, diagnostics, display color adjustment, and even a video enhancement feature that makes catching up on movies a pleasant experience.
What We Didn’t Like
Keyboard and Trackpad placement
So you see that massive second display that made you buy the Asus Zenbook Duo? Well, it’s the same reason you’re gonna have to take time to rewire your typing muscle memory.
Thanks to the ScreenPad+, the keyboard and mouse have been moved to around. The keyboard is much lower than in a traditional laptop, which means that your typing experience takes a hit and if you thought that was not enough, try using the side-placed trackpad and you will end up looking for a plug-in mouse.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, there are people who would take this setup without thinking twice but it’s a compromise you need to be well aware of.
TL;DR, the Asus Zenbook Duo is a unique laptop that attracts attention, makes you feel good about yourself, and does its job really well. For its price, that should not be debateable.
However, the keyboard layout may not be for everyone and its hefty weight also means that it’s heavier than other laptops at this price point.
But these are small prices to pay for anyone whose productivity would benefit heavily from this kind of setup. If you are a creative that values your workflow, the Asus Zenbook Duo is one to consider, if you need something more powerful, there’s the Zenbook Pro Duo that we reviewed a while back.
As a parting shot, the Asus Zenbook Duo does look like the laptop of tomorrow, but the question is, are you willing to pay the price for being two screens ahead of everyone else? And we’re not talking about the purchase price.