Thursday, April 15, 2021

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E

Two minute review

The ZenBook Duo UX482E is a head-turner for sure. If you’re sitting in a public space working on this laptop, you will certainly have people staring at the laptop from the corner of their eyes.

Moving on from the looks, this second-generation dual-screen laptop borrows a lot from its predecessor though the amount of improvement that Asus has brought on board is worth appreciation. However, at this price point, it will surely draw comparisons from other pro devices like Apple Macbook Pro with the all-new M1 chipset among other devices.

Aimed at creators, the Asus ZenBook Duo comes in a couple of flavours – the vanilla variant and the larger 1.56-inches Pro Duo variant that comes with an OLED display. Also, Asus has brought an EVO variant as well that guarantees longer battery life according to Intel’s standard, however, you will have to settle for an onboard GPU in that case.

Further Asus has persisted with the Ergo-Lift that offers an ergonomic typing experience by tilting the base ever so slightly. However, this time around the secondary display rises 7-degrees from its base offering a single large screen, if seen from an angle. The ErgoLift hinge combined with the automatic rising secondary display keeps the temperatures under control when you’re using the laptop for resource-intensive tasks.

This lifting mechanism also offers space for Asus to cram in more powerful speakers, as a result, media consumption on this laptop is a delight.

Spec sheet

Here is the Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.80Ghz Intel Core i7- 1165G7 processor

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX450 with 2GB GDDR6 memory

RAM: 16GB DDR4

Primary Screen: 14” LED Full HD 1920 x 1080p, touch

Secondary display: 12.65" ScreenPad Plus with 1920*515p, Touch

Storage: 1TB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)

Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1 x USB A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x SD card reader, combo audio jack

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0

Weight: Approx 1.6KG

Size: 324mm x 222mm x 16.9mm; (W x D x H)

This laptop is tailor-designed for content creators and is one of the best obvious choices over any other Windows laptops given the fact that it is now very portable and thanks to slim form factor. Weighing just 1.6 kg’s it might be the most portable laptop around, however, it's the lightest one to house 2 displays for sure. 

That being said, the large secondary display means that the keyboard is crammed at the bottom half and the touchpad has been shifted to the extreme right. This means that there is no resting place for the wrist and typing at a stretch can be uncomfortable. Both the keyboard and the trackpad have a massive learning curve but you can get the best out of the laptop if you use it on a tabletop rather than on the lap.

Though that’s the slight compromise you might need to make to get the ScreenPad+ powered secondary display. A bunch of software customisations mean that the secondary display becomes an asset for the target audience. The bundled stylus that supports 4096 pressure levels can help further enhance the experience of creators.

Overall, the Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E is an extremely powerful and premium laptop that is making a strong case for the secondary display, a luxury that is unmatched.

Price and availability 

The all-new Asus ZenBook Duo starts at Rs. 99,990 and comes in a couple of variants and the one we received (ZenBook Duo UX482E) for review is priced at Rs. 1,34,990. The ZenBook Pro Duo starts at Rs. 2,39,000. The ZenBook Duo is already available to purchase and can be bought from Asus’ official offline partners and online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart.

Check out the Asus ZenBook Duo on Amazon | Flipkart

Starting Price - Rs. 99,990.00

Availability of ZenBook Pro Duo - TBA

Design 

The Asus ZenBook Duo scores heavily on the design aspect. Given the fact that the laptop has a couple of displays in place it is fairly light, however, it is not that light as well that you can carry it for hours in your backpack or a sling on your shoulder. The overall build is sturdy with the external lid made of dark blue magnesium alloy giving it a stealthy look.

Asus has not altered the looks of the device. The concentric circular pattern and the Asus logo is still present on the top though smudges and fingerprints remain and aren’t easily removable. Underneath this lid, there are two displays, the primary one is now a 14-inch full-HD panel while the secondary display one is a 12.6-inches IPS panel. Both the displays are touch-enabled.

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E

(Image credit: Jitendra Soni)

The laptop comes with a new common hinge system that controls both the primary display and the secondary display and raises the secondary display by 7-degrees. The first generation ZenBook Duo had a stationary secondary display, this one, however, inspired by the Zephyrus Duo rises slightly above the base offering the user slightly better visibility without giving your neck some extra workout. Asus cites both better ergonomics and better airflow as the primary reasons behind adopting this new moving screen mechanism and to what we’ve experienced it works effectively on both counts.

In case you still need to raise the display a bit more, Asus is bundling a kickstand that can be stuck on the base of the laptop and it can push the laptop further up. A similar kickstand was present on the first generation ZenBook Pro Duo, however, this one doesn’t come pre-installed and Asus has left it on you to decide if you want to use it or not.

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E

(Image credit: Jitendra Soni)

Coming to the keyboard, while the keys give satisfactory feedback and have decent travel, the entire keyboard and the trackpad is housed in a slightly recessed cavity. While working on a desktop, it isn’t an issue, however, if you’re working while on the go, the sharp edge where your palm rests feels slightly sharp and uncomfortable. This coupled with the cramped typing space doesn’t offer the best working experience.

For an ultrabook, the Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E ample connectivity option. As far as ports are concerned, Asus has tried to offer almost all the important ports here. On the left, it has a couple of Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports that can be used to charge the laptop, a full-sized HDMI port. While on the right you have a USB A, a headphone combo and a micro-SD card slot.

Displays 

The primary display on this laptop is a Pantone validates 14-inch LED panel with a full-HD resolution and sports an extremely narrow bezel on all four sides offering a 93% screen to body ratio. The details on this panel are crisp and the colour reproduction was accurate thanks to the Pantone certification. 

With the limited time I had with the laptop, I streamed Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus Hotstar apart from a couple of games that I played on this laptop, I had an enjoyable experience. This is even though the panel isn’t an OLED panel as on the pricier Pro Duo.  Also, since this isn’t a glossy display; hence reflections of the panel aren’t an issue.

The real magic lies in the secondary display or the ScreenPad+ as Asus likes to call it. Compared to the first generation, Asus has made the ScreenPad+ more usable and comes in handy when using programs Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Premiere Pro and After Effects that lets you use the ScreenPad plus as a touch-friendly control centre.

Sadly, Filmora, which I use regularly to edit our weekly #TechShastra videos could not take advantage of this enlarged touch bar. And this remains the story with quite a lot of other applications. One of my favourite tweaks that Asus has natively built-in is the ability to take a screenshot of windows that you open on both displays. The system saves these windows/programs and opens all of them in one go whenever you need them.

That said, the content on the secondary display is very easily readable. So, if you’re reading off the secondary display while using the primary one for inputs, you might still find yourself craning your neck now and then. Further, the brightness of this display could have been slightly better.

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E

(Image credit: Jitendra Soni)

The laptop comes with a new common hinge system that controls both the primary display and the secondary display and raises the secondary display by 7-degrees. The first generation ZenBook Duo had a stationary secondary display, this one, however, inspired by the Zephyrus Duo rises slightly above the base offering the user slightly better visibility without giving your neck some extra workout. Asus cites both better ergonomics and better airflow as the primary reasons behind adopting this new moving screen mechanism and to what we’ve experienced it works effectively on both counts.

In case you still need to raise the display a bit more, Asus is bundling a kickstand that can be stuck on the base of the laptop and it can push the laptop further up. A similar kickstand was present on the first generation ZenBook Pro Duo, however, this one doesn’t come pre-installed and Asus has left it on you to decide if you want to use it or not.

Coming to the keyboard, while the keys give satisfactory feedback and have decent travel, the entire keyboard and the trackpad is housed in a slightly recessed cavity. While working on a desktop, it isn’t an issue, however, if you’re working while on the go, the sharp edge where your palm rests feels slightly sharp and uncomfortable. This coupled with the cramped typing space doesn’t offer the best working experience.

Image 1 of 2

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482EG

(Image credit: Asus)
Image 2 of 2

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482EG

(Image credit: Asus)

For an ultrabook, the Asus ZenBook Duo UX482E comes with an ample connectivity option. As far as ports as re concerned, Asus has tried to offer almost all the important ports here. On the left, it has a couple of Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports that can be used to charge the laptop, a full-sized HDMI port. While on the right you have a USB A, a headphone combo and a micro-SD card slot.

Performance 

As mentioned above, the laptop will surely make heads turn while you’re working on it at an airport or a restaurant, when it is safe to travel and eat outside that is. Even my family members were in awe of the design and the fact that it had a tiny footprint yet it was able to host a couple of displays.

However, there is much more to this laptop. The ZenBook Duo lineup is tailor-made for content creators and I love the direction this second-generation device has picked up exactly from where the first-gen left and has made massive improvements.

There is no prize for guessing that creators will love to use the extra screen real estate available to them in the form of ScreenPad + and Asus justifies the same with the collaborations mentioned above. It’d be safe to say that the ZenBook Duo’s secondary display isn’t a gimmick any more.

Though my regular tasks include using multiple browsers, keeping a bucket load of tabs open, working on Google Docs, Microsoft Word and probably streaming music in the background. Apart from random resizing, cropping and colour correction of images. This suggests that this laptop isn’t targeted at a user like me, however, the laptop was able to perform all the regular tasks thrown at it with ease.

Image 1 of 2

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482EG, ScreenPad +

(Image credit: Jitendra Soni)
Image 2 of 2

Asus ZenBook Duo UX482EG

(Image credit: Jitendra Soni)

I tried editing a 15 minutes video with basic edits and overlays and compared to my regular device, the ZenBook Duo took slightly more time rendering the video. Also, with all this fancy airflow tech in place, the back panel did get warm and keeping it on the lap was out of the question.

There is a stylus pen bundled with the laptop and it supports 4096 pressure levels. This can be used to create artwork on this laptop on wither of the touch displays. Thanks fully, Asus has added the option to disable the keypad in case you plan to rest your palm on the keyboard 

This suggests that if your daily workflow includes 4K video or image editing then this isn’t the right configuration for you. The Nvidia MX450 GPU doesn’t do justice with heavy gaming as well.

Another key thing to add here is the audio performance on this laptop is impressive. The dual speakers are tuned by Harman Kardon and produce a sound that is enough for you to enjoy your streaming session. The special hinge plays a role in amplifying the audio output of this laptop.

Battery life 

For the entire duration of my usage, I kept the brightness of both the displays to the maximum and charged the ZenBook Duo UX482 only when the battery levels went below 10%. With my regular activity, I got a solid 6 hours of backup without any issues. With a slightly heavy workflow, you can expect a slight dip in the overall backup, however, that again is impressive for a device with 2 displays working in tandem.

Aside, Asus has also introduced an Intel EVO certified Ultrabook under the ZenBook Duo lineup that according to the company offers 10 hours of backup easily. However, you might have to trade off the dedicated GPU for the same.

Buy it if...

You want a unique pro device: The ZenBook Duo UX482 is all about its design. The compact form factor that houses a couple of displays can help you perform regular tasks as well and the ScreenPad+ will only add value.

You’re a content creator: You can go for this laptop if you’re a content creator who primarily uses Adobe’s applications, then this laptop is a tailor made solution for you. It is powerful, compact and beautiful as well. 

Don’t buy it if..

You’re always on the go: This laptop offers the best experience when used on a table or desk. If you work regularly out of the office then the bulk and the keyboard experience may be a hindrance 

You’re a gamer: If gaming precedes your workflow, then you can avoid buying the ZenBook Duo UX482. It is not designed for gamers  

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