Asus updated its dual-screen laptops ZenBook Duo and ZenBook Duo Pro at CES 2021. Although the show is practically happening this year, Gadgets 360 was able to spend a little time on a demo unit. The ZenBook Duo series now has updated internals and an automatic tilt mechanism that raises the secondary screens to a more comfortable viewing angle. The original ZenBook Duo series was first introduced at Computex 2019. Asus then showed off its ROG Zephyrus Duo based on the same raw design but with a raised secondary screen to improve airflow and ergonomics. That little modification has now found its way back into the ZenBook lineup and makes a pretty big difference.
The huge secondary screen, which Asus calls the ScreenPad +, is the width of the bottom half of the ZenBook Duo. It matches the horizontal resolution of the main display, so you can treat it like a second monitor, oriented vertically rather than horizontally. On the original ZenBook Duo, the ScreenPad + was flat and coincident with the keyboard, making it a bit difficult to use. When checking this laptop, I leaned forward quite often. The new mechanism solves this problem to some extent.
Asus combines its ‘Ergolift’ hinge effect, which lifts the entire lower deck, with this new automatic lifting mechanism, so that the ScreenPad + automatically bends when the lid is opened. The angle reaches up to 7 degrees and beyond that it is not adjustable. Fortunately, the raised control panel doesn’t obscure the bottom of the main screen at any angle. My demo device came with a pen and the ScreenPad + did not bend or bend when pressed down.
The mechanism feels solid enough, but it looks like it could be damaged if you try to close the lid of the laptop with a pencil accidentally wedged under the ScreenPad +. It shouldn’t be very dangerous to pinch your finger, but it would be a good idea to be careful when handling this laptop. I’m a little careful with dust and lint as the gap is relatively narrow and apparently difficult to clean, but Asus includes a protective case.
Both the main display and the ScreenPad + have matte surfaces that reduce reflections to some extent. The resolutions are 1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 515. We have an 11 for the internal hardwareth Intel Intel ‘Tiger Lake’ CPU with integrated Intel Xe graphics and optional discrete Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. My demo unit has 32GB of RAM and a 1TB NVMe SSD, but the exact specifications vary.
The ZenBook Duo UX482E has an Intel Evo sticker. This means that it meets a number of requirements in terms of weight, performance, and battery life. It’s 16.9mm thick and has relatively narrow bezels, with space for a webcam in the usual spot. Asus claims to have 17 hours of battery life and this laptop can be charged via USB Type-C.
There are two Type C Thunderbolt ports and a full-size HDMI port on the left, as well as a Type A port, 3.5mm audio jacks, and a microSD card slot on the right. The keyboard layout is improved compared to the first generation and we now have a more meaningful arrow group and the toggle keys are in the right place. There’s still a vertical trackpad that isn’t suitable for left-handed people. In terms of comfort, the keyboard is right at the bottom of the body, which can become uncomfortable over time.
Asus has improved its software and you can easily move programs from one screen to another. You can set up stacks to start a number of programs and have them automatically tile across the two screens. Both can be touched so that the ScreenPad + can act as a user interface in some programs.
All in all, Asus seems to have refined the design of its original ZenBook Duo series, and the new model should be more practical for everyday use. Information on prices and availability in India is not yet known. Stay tuned for Gadgets 360 to see when it launches in India.