The ZenBook Duos are ASUS’s latest innovation, modern laptops with two displays. They’re available as either a full-power 15-inch model (ZenBook Duo Pro UX581), or a more compact and more affordable 14-inch variant (ZenBook Duo UX481), and we’re going to take a closer look at this latter option in this article. I have also reviewed the ZenBook 14 (UX434F) in this blog.
I have used the ZenBook Duo UX481 as one of My daily drivers for the past 1 week, and gathered my thoughts down below.
Asus ZenBook 14 (UX434) price and availability
The Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 is currently available at Text Book Centre for Ksh. 235,000
Asus ZenBook Duo (UX481) Specs
|Size||12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches|
|Display||14-inch, 1080p + 12.6-inch|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-10510U|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce MX250|
|Battery||9:44 (ScreenPad Plus on); 11:51 (ScreenPad Plus off)|
The laptop’s aesthetic is obviously Asus, for better and for worse. It’s a refinement of the ZenBook design that’s both recognizable and stands out in the line. You’ll enjoy the usual ZenBook concentric swirls on the lid, which is perhaps the most iconic Asus design feature. Here, the swirls aren’t centered but rather asymmetrical, a noticeable change. There’s also a new Celestial Blue color that provides a touch of elegance.
Overall, the ZenBook Duo is an attractive laptop that manages to walk that fine line between outlandish and conservative, but I wouldn’t say it stands out.
Connectivity is just okay, with a USB-C 3.1 port, two USB-A 3.1 ports (one Gen 1 and one Gen 2), a full-size HDMI port, and a microSD card reader. Unfortunately, Asus has once again skipped Thunderbolt 3 support, just as it has with other recent ZenBooks. Frankly, that’s unforgivable for a 200k laptop. Thunderbolt 3 provides the best connectivity performance, including the ability to connect to an external GPU enclosure, which would be a boon for the creative types that might gravitate to the ZenBook Duo.
ZenBook Duo ux481 is a bit on the heavier side of things as it weighs around 1.5 kgs and measures 32.3 x 22.3 x 1.99 centimeters. It’s not that slim either, presumably due to the addition of a secondary screen. It is unlike something we had hoped for from a ZenBook machine, which has a reputation of being one of the slimmest and lightweight Windows laptops.
The Harmon Kardon logo that sits below the touchpad on the right-front edge of the laptop is an indication that some consideration was given to the Duo’s audio. But the pair of speakers, firing out of the sides near the front edge, are only going to deliver so much. They produce pleasing sound without distortion, particularly when the laptop is sitting on a solid flat surface.
The ZenBook Pro Duo’s AMOLED display is equally great, making the ZenBook Duo’s primary screen a bit disappointing. I’d have much preferred to see a brighter display with better colors and contrast on a laptop that’s intended for creative types. Ultimately, the display quality holds it back from being ideal for content creation.
The ScreenPad Plus is an impressive addition to the laptop, and is probably the biggest talking point. It’s meant to increase your productivity by allowing you to run secondary apps that you would normally run on the main screen, such as Spotify. It also extends your desktop space, you can extend certain apps to make for some rather interesting use scenarios.
ScreenPad Plus is the most noticeable feature of the ZenBook Duo and its USP as well. The primary screen is a gorgeous looking 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) LED panel with minimal bezels. Colors are vibrant, and the contrast is excellent.
The ZenBook Duo is aimed at professionals and creators, so it’s a given that it packs pretty decent hardware. It comes with the choice of either a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor or Core i5 with up to 16GB RAM and 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD and 2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics. The ZenBook Duo currently maxes out at the quad-core Core i7-10510U with no Ice Lake or AMD options available.
There’s a 70 Wh battery inside the Zenbook Duo UX481, much larger than you’ll find on other 14-inch notebooks of this generation.
Battery life is solid on this device. With the ScreenPad turned on, the full battery capacity kept the ZenBook Duo going for what turned out to be a surprisingly long time considering that the batteries are powering two displays.
The Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 is an interesting spin on the classic laptop form factor, with two screens and respectable performance. Its downfall is that the ScreenPad Plus is still very much a novelty addition rather than a necessity, eating into precious keyboard and trackpad space.
If you are looking specifically for a two-screen device, this one works. It’s more than a party trick; it’s useful and there are cool things you can do.