At Techlargest it has become almost a tradition to test a Windows laptop once a year. If you don’t know what the competition is doing, you can’t judge Apple’s own devices properly. This year we opted for the new Asus ZenBook Duo 14 (UX482).
In addition to its particularly powerful hardware, this laptop excels with the so-called ScreenPad above the keyboard. This resembles an oversized Touch Bar as you know it from the MacBook Pro. While Apple seems to be stopping the development of the Touch Bar according to the latest rumors, Asus seems to be taking the concept three steps further. So the question remains: is it something?
Asus ZenBook Duo 14 UX482: good specifications
Let’s start with the hardware. Unlike Apple, Asus still uses Intel processors for its laptops. There the company chooses the best of the best. Our test laptop is equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i7 with 2.8 GHz and Turbo Boost up to 4.7 GHz. There is also 32 GB of RAM. As a graphics card, it uses an integrated Intel Iris Xe, optionally a GeForce MX450 with 2 GB graphics memory is also possible. The main screen is 14 inches and has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. In addition, it is 100% Pantone validated and therefore perfectly suitable for graphic work. Remarkable: unlike Apple, Asus also opts for a touchscreen for the main display.
Then the ScreenPad. The touchscreen is by no means attractive, but practical. It sits above the keyboard and looks like an extension of the display. In terms of resolution and dimensions, it is just as wide, and about half as high. Despite the similar specifications, we find the display a bit less sharp and clear at first glance. In terms of connections, the ZenBook has 1x USB-a, 2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x HDMI and an SD card reader.
High time to turn on the Asus. And it must be said, it all goes very quickly. We still don’t like the design and ‘ease of use’ of Windows (to be honest, it still looks like Windows from ten years ago), but you certainly cannot say that it is a slow system. Starting up ZenBook, opening programs – everything is super fast. We cannot open all programs on the ZenBook one after the other without any delay, as with our MacBook Air M1, but Windows always felt a bit slower in our memory than this.
What we have to get used to is the weird placement of the trackpad. Since the top half of the keyboard is occupied by the ScreenPad, the trackpad had to move to the right side of the keyboard. At first that feels like a crazy position but will get used to it over time.
ScreenPad: Giant Touch Bar
On the MacBook Pro, the Touch Bar still falls into the ‘neither meat nor fish’ category. The elongated OLED strip cannot be used as a screen, but as an extension of the keyboard, it offers too little feedback while typing. That’s why we appreciate Asus’s idea of turning the ScreenPad into a real screen.
You can use it as an extension of the main display, but it also offers space for useful functions – such as a full numeric keypad, app switcher or a giant trackpad. Also nice: if you want to draw on the ScreenPad, you can place it at a slightly finer angle via a stand at the bottom. The ScreenPad may look strange, but you can use it to tailor the use of the ZenBook to your wishes. And Apple never succeeded with the Touch Bar.
Would we trade in our MacBook for a ZenBook Duo? No. We are far too attached to macOS for that. In addition, the Mac is just a bit faster with the M1. Is the ZenBook Duo a great laptop? Definitely, if you appreciate the ScreenPad’s practical features and if you can get used to the trackpad’s odd placement.
The Windows world is not standing still. The Asus ZenBook Duo (with a suggested retail price of € 1799 ) is a great laptop, the ScreenPad a nice function and, unlike the Touch Bar, not a half-finished gimmick.