Dual Screen open

ASUS has been playing with the possibility of a dual screen laptop for a while now, with the first one announced back in May 2019. The concept worked, showing where laptops could be heading in the future.

With COVID-19 pushing many of us to work from home, myself included, and needing to use a laptop which is attached to a second display, this idea of a dual screen in a laptop could help with ensuring we get the most of our work, but also our personal digital lives just a little bit easier.

So when ASUS offered us its latest iteration of this ZenBook Duo laptop, we jumped at the chance to see what this laptop can do and see if two displays can be better than one.

So can the ASUS ZenBook Duo UX482 provide the best experience possible throughout the day? Let’s see.

What’s in the Box?

Unpacking the device from its box, like many laptops, is a little odd as there are nested boxes; there’s the outer display box, and then another box in that which actually has the laptop and gear inside.

Opening the main box, you can find the main Laptop, a charger, but also a Stylus which the company has provided for those creative types who might need a stylus to do their creativity. There’s also a faux leather laptop bag which can store the laptop and stylus all in one.

There is also an additional stand made of a soft but flexible material, with stick pads to help stay attached when placed on the laptop. There’s an instruction manual on how to install it, but this reminded me very much of an IKEA instruction manual – frustrating to work at out first but once worked out and installed, not too bad.

The design

Taking the Zenbook Duo out of its box, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to get, but upon opening I was slightly surprised.

The ZenBook Duo is made from a combined titanium metal and polymer plastic design which is pretty much standard across most laptops these days.

Opening the lid, reveals the 14-inch NanoEdge touch display (1920 x 1080), with a 12.6-inch matte touch screen Tilting ScreenPad, which is located right above the laptop keyboard.

The tilting screen pad does seem a little dimmer to the main display, but it does kind of work and can tilt up to 7 degrees which is fine, but you cannot manually adjust this degree setting or make it any higher. I will go further into the displays further down in the review.

Also above the main display, you can find the IR sensor and front facing camera. The IR sensor does help ensure clarity with the webcam. This ensures that it can adjust the brightness when needed.

What is more interesting is that instead of the usual trackpad being located right below the space bar, it is located to the right hand side of the keyboard next to the backspace, enter and shift buttons.

There are also x2 USB-C ports that are compatible with Thunderbolt 4 devices, along with a single HDMI port located on the left hand side of the laptop, with the right hand side providing a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, 3.5mm audio port. There is also a single SD card reader which I do wish most other laptops should come with as standard.

The Bottom of the ZenBook Duo UX482, there is a fan grill which I found when attaching the additional stand. Though with a lot of use, this fan can get hot and I do suggest installing the stand to assist the fan get a bit of that heat away.

The Displays

As stated in the design section, the ASUS ZenBook Duo comes with 2 displays. The main display being the 14-inch NanoEdge touch display (1920 x 1080) which is bright, but not overly too bright.

The second display, officially known as the 12.6 inch matte touch screen Tilting ScreenPad, can reach up to 7 degrees angle wise, though sadly you cannot manually adjust this any further due to the hinge design which is built to reflect when you open the laptop up to your desired angle.

The secondary tilting screen with its matte finish does mean it is a little dimmer against the main screen but in all honesty, this actually makes sense (too bright and it might reflect). Thanks in part to Asus’ ScreenXpert 2.0 software, it can automatically resize up to three windows on the ScreenPad meaning you can run your Outlook inbox, Spotify and other apps and services, meaning you can keep your main screen for the more important work if needs be.

You can also change windows by a simple flick between both screens and thanks to a dedicated button on the ScreenPad menu, you can simply move windows up and down. Should you require the ScreenPad to be turned off, all you need to do is to hit the button next to the power button and choose 1 of the 3 settings:

  • Turn ScreenPad on
  • Hide Screenpad plus
  • Turn Screenpad off

What’s inside

The Zenbook Duo UX482 is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 2.80Hz processor, along with 32GB RAM, 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 Performance solid state drive (SSD) and an NVIDIA GeForce MX450, 2GB GDDR6 Intel Iris Xe Graphics Graphics card.

In terms of connectivity, whilst the ZenBook Duo UX482 doesn’t come with any 4G or 5G mobile connectivity. However, it does come with Wi-Fi 6Gig+ (802.11ax), along with dual band Bluetooth version 5.0.

Battery wise. The ZenBook Duo UX482 does come with 70WHrs, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion battery, though thanks to the dual/duo screen, I did find battery power be pretty good, although at the end of the day (about 6 hours or so), I was needing to plug the device back into its main power supply.

Given there are two screens I would have expected the battery life to be much worse but it was good to see it could at least power through the majority of the day. However can I see this being an issue should you require just slightly more battery power. You can turn off the other screen and effectively get more battery life but I doubt it will give you much more.

Software

The ZenBook Duo runs Windows 10 home edition which operates as to what I expected. Certainly Microsoft has made Windows 10 very user friendly and ASUS hasn’t made any additional changes to this, however there are a couple of apps that have been preloaded onto the ZenBook Duo UX482 which include:

  • MyASUS – system support and diagnostic suite
  • McAfee antivirus
  • Spotify App

Of course, there is also the usual Microsoft apps and bloatware services such as Edge, Office, Mail/Inbox (Outlook), Photo’s, Microsoft to-do, Weather, Microsoft Store, Films & TV, Microsoft News, Your Phone and more.

The one thing I like with Microsoft, is that you can partake in the Your Phone app system, which can connect to your Android device and show notifications from your phone onto your computer screen, say when your working or playing, along with allowing you to make and take calls as well or at least show your incoming calls. Something I use on my current Surface Go as I do tend to mostly have my phone on silent.

What’s it good at?

The screens, which are very bright even in low settings, aren’t too dark and the brightness level can either be manually or automatically adjust the settings.

Having 2 screens does have its advantages, as stated being able to say have your main screen for video calls, whilst the second screen can have your email inbox or documents open does certainly help given the current work requirements and video conferences from home.

Also multitasking was really smooth and very little if to no latency or issues and that made being productive very easy and comfortable to use throughout the day.

What’s it not good at?

So as much as I hate to say it, the keyboard, given its riding right to the bottom edge of the Laptop has made getting used a little bit hard, given I am used to some additional space at the bottom of any keyboard to rest my hands or wrists, such as my Surface Go laptop keyboard.

Also having the keyboard at the right hand side, whilst I am right handed when it comes to writing, but having the mouse trackpad located to the write – I just couldn’t really use it. I would have to connect my Bluetooth surface mouse to be able to use it effectively and this could be looked at for any potential future devices for the company.

The ScreenPad plus whilst it is great and does provide some additional , you’re not able to adjust the ScreenPad Plus’s angle and seems to be locked to the angle your screen is at, meaning you can’t manually adjust the angle yourself and for me this is a disappointment.

Whilst I can understand the logic behind it, giving it could lead to potentially less damage to both screens, say if you forget the lower the angle manually down of the Screenpad Plus when you’re trying to close it. But this is just a minor thing really.

Whilst I did play some games on the ZenBook Duo, I did find some titles like Train Simulator, which is very graphics intensive, did struggle a bit, whilst some other games like Cities: Skyline, not suffering as much.

The speakers are well, meh. They are ok for video calls but for listening to music or watching movies or videos – definitely not. I preferred to either connect to my home Bluetooth speaker for watching movies or music or utilise my Bluetooth earbuds/headphones.

Should you consider buying one?

Despite a few shortcomings, I still found the ASUS ZenBook Duo UX482 still offers some really great specs and can certainly handle your mostly anything you try to do and complete, however if your after something that can handle some games or be a gaming and work laptop, you might want to looks elsewhere.

If you can also get past the keyboard layout, which I did struggle with a fair bit personally, there is still a lot to like with the ASUS ZenBook Duo UX482.

The ASUS ZenBook Duo UX482 will be available from Mid February for $2,999 from major retailers, though exact list of retailers have been provided.