The use case of laptops has changed a lot over the years. From a portable workstation to a media consumption device to a multipurpose system, modern laptops can be used for everything. Nowadays the laptop segment is getting boring. The laptops are getting more bulkier and powerful, there are slim and lightweight laptops that are ultra-portable. Some have a 360-degree hinge, but more and less the same. Asus is here to change the game with the Zenbook Pro Duo.
The Asus Zenbook lineup is known to present thin and light laptops with everwhere performance. However, Asus choose to take another route with the Zenbook Pro Duo. the laptop is a bit on the bulky side but packs two different 4K touchscreen displays and a touchpad that converts a number pad at the press of a button.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo is available in a variety of configurations. The variant we had for review purposes came with a 2.4Ghz 9th Generation Intel Core i9 9980HK processor coupled with 32GB of RAM. It comes with a 15.6-inch OLED 4K(3840 x 2160) display along with a 14-inch 4K OLED touchscreen display. For the graphics, we have an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphic card with 6GB VRAM. For storage, we have a 1TB SSD. Asus also includes a detachable armrest and stylus in the box for its users.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Design
Asus with the Zenbook Prod Duo continues to deliver classic designs that are at once timeless, innovative and undeniably Asus. The laptop is constructed from sturdy aluminum with a deep celestial blue color and a shiny silver Asus logo in the center with a horizontal offset where the company's iconic concentric circles design originates.
The company's ErgoLift hinge makes sure that the laptop opens up a 4.5-degree angle offering a comfortable typing and in this case viewing experience also. If you want a little more lift, the laptop comes with a foldable laptop stand attached to the bottom. The entirety of the keyboard resides in the area which is typically reserved for the touchpad. The touchpad is a move to the side in the corner. The top is taken up by the matte-finished 14-inch 4K OLED touchscreen display which looks breathtaking combined with the main display
At the bottom front lip of the laptop, we find a lightbar indicator that projects onto the detachable armrest which attaches perfectly on to the laptop. with comfortable material for our hands. All the edges are finished with a chamfered edge to add to the design effect of the laptop.
As timeless as the Zenbook Pro Duo looks, it is one of the chunkiest Zenbooks I have ever seen. Overall, with the massive 4K OLED dual-display setup and that deep blue aluminum design, the laptop is one big eye-candy. It provides one of the most breathtaking viewing experience I have ever witnessed on a laptop.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Display
4K OLED is one of the most breathtaking display setups. Asus went overboard with that and provided a 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 OLED main touchscreen display along with a 14-inch 3840 x 1100 OLED secondary display just below it. The main display has great colors and amazing details.
While the matte ScreenPad+ or the secondary display is not nearly as vibrant but the details are as good as the main display. The matte nature of the secondary display is appreciated as the image from the main display doesn't show reflections in the secondary display which could be very annoying.
The secondary ScreenPad+ is treated as an additional display by the Windows 10, so except for the some of the Asus inbuilt features, you cannot really take full advantage of it in games or development work.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Performance
The reality of the situation is if you are willing to spend that much money on a laptop, you expect it to perform decently good. You don't need to worry about that when you got an overclockable 2.4Ghz 9th Generation Intel Core i9 9980HK processor coupled with 32GB DDR4 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB VRAM all backed up by a 1TB of SSD storage.
With all that power, I wasn't surprised, no matter whatever I do on the laptop, the laptop doesn't lag at all. Our team hit it with Video rendering, Gaming, and Application Development, and nothing made the laptop budge. Although the laptop is geared for creators, you can do just about anything on it.
On our GeekBench 5 CPU benchmark, the laptop scored 1134 for the single-core test and 3736 for the multi-core test which is great. In the compute benchmark it scored 24625 which scored 1647 in Cinebench which are great numbers.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Keyboard, Trackpad, and IO
The laptop sports a Chiclet-style keyboard which is which has great feedback, but the travel felt a little soft. The keyboard is basically on the bottom of the laptop which means no included armrest which makes it a bit annoying to type on. If you use the included armrest, you cannot really keep the laptop on anything else than a flat surface, which defeats the point of the laptop.
With the ScreenPad+ taking most of the space and keyboard taking the remaining space, it means that the touchpad has to be pushed to the bottom right. It takes time to get used to it being so far from there, but after a while, it feels natural.
Long pressing the icon on the top right of the touchpad turns on the Numpad, which enables you to use the touchpad as a Numpad which is nice. One of my complaints with earlier generation Zenbooks with this feature was in a dark room, the brightness of the Numpad was too high. I am glad that Asus included a low brightness toggle on the top left of the touchpad.
Coming to the IO situation, considering the laptop is such thick, we expected nothing less than overkill for the ports which was a disappointment. On the right side, you get a USB Type-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports, Thunderbolt 3 and an audio jack. Along the left, you have another USB Type-A port, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, and a DC-in port. The IO situation is a little disappointing considering it is a thick and heavy laptop.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Battery
As beautiful as 4K OLED panels are, they can do a toll on a laptop's battery life. That is relevant here especially as it packs two of those which are constantly on. The RTX 2060 and the Core i9 9980HK doesn't help to make the base better here. While the company claims an ambitions battery life of 7.5 hours, we were only able to get around 3.5 hours of battery life with both displays at around 50% brightness, laptop in balanced performance mode and our usual web browsing and media playback with multiple tabs opened in chrome.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Asus Pen and the Screen Pad+
Although both the display are capable of being used with your finger and create a lot of fingerprints with unprecise touches, the company decided to include a pen. It is made out of slate gray aluminum with a good finish. It feels a little weak compared to the other offerings in the market. It runs off an AAAA battery which Asus says is good for up to 10 hours of usage. Due to the nature of the secondary display, writing/drawing on it was way more comfortable that on the primary display where it becomes awkward for obvious reasons.
The ScreenPad+ acts as a programmable keystroke shortcut, or a secondary display or an extended display with your primary display. Basically it has all the benefits that you would have with a dual-screen setup on a PC. While browsing, we can extend the display for a longer text per scroll and scroll easily using the bottom touch screen. While gaming, we could open a video walkthrough or while development, I was able to open a secondary code window or reference article off the web to help to make my work easier. However, it sometimes becomes distracting as the secondary display doesn't come directly in the line of sight if you are trying to read some text of it.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Review: Verdict
Dual displays on laptops aren't a new concept. As our unit was specced, it costs around Rs 2.5 lakhs. For that amount of money, the dual 4k touch screen panels many look mind-blowing but you seem to wonder, is it even worth it?
The secondary screen allows you to quickly access functions, gives you more real estate to work with and much more which is great, however, these OLED 4K panels do a number on the battery life. Due to such a form factor, the palm rest is a lot uncomfortable. Also, due to the form factor and its weight, the laptop is not at all portable. Carrying it around it a headache.
The biggest problem is not the weight or the price, but the operating system. No matter, how good the Windows operating system is, it is still no match for the smoothness of Mac OS X.
If you are looking for a feature-packed, do it all laptop and price is not a concern, the Zenbook Pro Duo is hands down one of the best laptops out there.