Asus ZenBook Duo 14 (UX482) review: An improved dual-screen design, but usability issues persist Review

Asus is identified for its ZenBook laptops with next screens, which are possibly incorporated into the trackpad or, as in the new ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482), deployed total-width, pushing the keyboard down into what would generally be the wrist-rest region. The Duo fourteen (UX482) presents hardware and software package advancements above the previous design, but is it additional usable than its predecessor, and does it supply fantastic benefit for its top quality price tag (£1,399 inc. VAT with 16GB RAM in the UK, $one,299.99 with 8GB in the US)? 

Outwardly, the ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) won’t seem nearly anything unique. The blue/gray clamshell process with its trademark concentric circles on the lid, radiating out from a silver Asus marque, is conventional plenty of. The desktop footprint is reasonable for a fourteen-inch laptop computer at 32.40cm wide by 22.20cm deep, and it is really an appropriate one.sixty nine-one.73cm thick. 

This Intel Evo-verified laptop’s main specs expose a able process: my evaluation device had an 11th technology Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

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The Asus ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) is a very well-specified fourteen-inch laptop computer (11th-gen Main i7, up to 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, discrete Nvidia GPU option), but its essential attribute is the twelve.sixty five-inch SceenPad Plus, which tilts up when the primary monitor is opened.


Images: Asus

So much, so ordinary. But lift this device up to carry it around and you are going to feel the difference: at one.62kg it is really really large for a fourteen-inch laptop computer. The reason for this is right away clear when you increase the lid: a total-width next monitor sits in the region that would generally be occupied by the upper rows of the keyboard, pushing the keyboard down so that you will find no wrist rest region. The touchpad is also displaced to the appropriate side of the keyboard. 

This ScreenPad Plus will make or crack the Asus ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482). It is really a touch-responsive IPS panel measuring twelve.sixty five inches across the diagonal and about three.twenty five inches deep, with a resolution of one,920 by 515 pixels (157.1ppi). When you open up the lid, the ScreenPad Plus immediately hinges up to sit at a slight angle. When I previous seemed at this configuration in the 15.6-inch ZenBook Pro Duo (UX581), the monitor sat flat. This minor uplift has a significant impact on usability, making it a lot much easier to see what the monitor is exhibiting when you’re seated at a desk or desk. 

The ScreenPad Plus capabilities as a companion to the primary monitor, and due to the fact of its dimensions and versatility it is really remarkably valuable. Asus has labored on the software package, and the two versatility and capabilities are improved above the previous design. 

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You can drag a window from primary monitor downwards to fall it on to the ScreenPad Plus, or you can strike a Fn essential and mail whatever’s on the primary monitor to the next monitor. If you’ve got had two open up windows side by side, for case in point, and have to have to maintain them open up but want to perform into a 3rd, they can be quickly shifted out of the way, but however be held obvious. You can also maximise an application window so that it spans the two screens, giving an amplified vertical viewing region. 

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Launcher: the ScreenPad Plus’s management panel.


Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The ScreenPad Plus has its have software package, which opens up additional utilizes. The remaining edge of the next monitor has a vertical row of touch-responsive management buttons, most of which offer you essential information and facts or performance tweaks. For case in point, you can change the screen’s brightness, established up a connection amongst your cellular phone and the ScreenPad Plus to use the pad to make phone calls, lock and unlock the keyboard so you do not accidentally faucet at keys although you’re working in touch-monitor mode (the two screens are touch responsive), and see a rapid guide to using the ScreenPad Plus. 

There is certainly also a button that opens the ‘Launcher’. This is a mini-management panel that offers entry to numerous applications and capabilities, together with a range pad. There is certainly a handwriting recognition device, and you can run companion applications — Asus offers the Spotify application as a taster. 

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Handwriting: one particular of the Asus ScreenPad Plus applications accessible by way of the Launcher.


Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

A attribute called QuickKey presents you touch entry to solutions inside apps: for case in point, if you routinely perform a array of monitor faucets or menu selections to get anything carried out, you can automate them into a one one particular-faucet on-monitor essential. 

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Endeavor Group lets you start collections of applications in unique layouts on the primary monitor and the secondary ScreenPad Plus.


Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Aware that artistic forms may be drawn to the ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482), you will find also an application called Manage Panel which offers controls for a array of graphics-linked apps. It operates with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Basic, Premiere Pro and Soon after Results. 

Ultimately, you can established up what Asus phone calls ‘task groups’, which are teams of up to seven apps that can be released at the faucet of an icon. The secondary monitor can cope with up to a few applications, with up to four on the primary monitor.

Talking of the primary monitor, this is a fourteen-inch FHD (1920 x 1080, 157.3ppi) touch-enabled IPS panel with a matte anti-glare complete. It is really sharp and shiny, and at ease to see, exhibiting a hundred% of the sRGB color gamut and boasting Pantone validation. If the primary monitor is all you have to have, the ScreenPad Plus can be toggled off with a Purpose essential to help you save the battery.

For all its expansive thoughts and capabilities, the ScreenPad Plus does cause some usability issues when it will come to the keyboard and touchpad. Key action is fine, and although you will find some flex in the keyboard it is not worrisome. But the keyboard is awkward to use. The absence of a wrist rest has an adverse impact on ease and comfort and usability. Asus factors out that its ‘ErgoLift’ hinge mechanism tilts the keyboard to a four.five-degree angle for what, on its web page, it describes ‘ergonomic, tiredness-cost-free typing’.

However, the tumble from the front of the keyboard to the desktop is about 12mm, and resting the wrists at the angle created by this fall feels uncomfortable. Any person wanting to use the Asus ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) might reward from a independent wrist rest, but of course this is only viable for desktop use, not when working with the ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) on your lap. Confined desktop region offered on railway or airplane tables might also preclude using a independent wrist rest. 

The keyboard is somewhat tiny and squished — a functionality of obtaining to compress it to make room for the touchpad to its appropriate. My ordinary touch-typing velocity was marginally lowered due to the fact of all this. 

The touchpad provides its have issues. It is really taller than it is wide, which is not a specifically valuable form for controlling the cursor on a landscape-mode monitor. Also, its positioning on the appropriate-hand side of the keyboard does remaining-handers no favours. 

The Harman Kardon speakers supply fantastic quantity with nearly no distortion, even when turned up to the maximum. Good news for creators, presenters and regular online video call attendees. 

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As outlined earler, the ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) runs on an Intel Main i7-1165G7 processor. There is an option for discrete Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics, but my evaluation device relied on Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics. There is 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. With all that heading on, it is really somewhat shocking that the functioning process is Windows 10 Residence (while the spec sheet states that Asus ‘recommends’ Windows 10 Pro). There is certainly no fingerprint sensor for biometric login, possibly thanks to absence of area around the keyboard region – while arguably it could have been doable to embed it into the energy button that sits previously mentioned the touchpad. Alternatively, biometric authentication is catered for by Windows Hello there facial recognition via the IR-equipped webcam, which, sadly, won’t reward from a privacy shutter. 

The tilt of the ScreenPad Plus offers a important area underneath it for air circulation and cooling, but however I uncovered the ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) ran marginally heat even when it was idling. 

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Proper side (top rated): MicroSD card reader three.5mm audio jack USB three.two. Remaining side (previously mentioned): HDMI 2x Thunderbolt four USB-C.


Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Asus has uncovered room for a MicroSD card reader on the appropriate side — a valuable attribute for creators who might have to have to transfer stills or footage from a digital digicam. There is certainly also a USB three.two port and a three.5mm audio jack on this side, although the remaining side homes a total-dimensions HDMI port and two Thunderbolt four USB-C ports. You cost the laptop computer by way of USB-C, leaving just one particular of these ports cost-free when the battery is finding a raise. 

Asus statements up to 17 hrs of daily life for the 70Wh battery, which is a whole lot considering that two screens are getting driven. My exam concerned leaving the next monitor on and working across the two screens, working mainstream workloads involving world-wide-web applications and media streaming, with social feeds or other applications in the ScreenPad Plus in the course of. Beneath this routine the battery normally dropped from a hundred% to 67% above a few hrs, suggesting battery daily life of around nine hrs — a total working working day, but nowhere in the vicinity of Asus’s assert.  

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Picture: Asus

Conclusions

The special providing level of the Asus ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) is its next monitor, and the additional viewing region and software package capabilities supplied by the ScreenPad Plus might have attractiveness, specifically to artistic buyers. Having said that, these gains are offset by a compressed keyboard, the absence of a wrist rest and the appropriate-aligned, portrait-mode touchpad, all of which compromise usability.

The ZenBook Duo fourteen (UX482) is a able laptop computer, but its special capabilities contain trade-offs, and future prospective buyers will have to decide no matter if or not individuals trade-offs perform for them. 

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