We go hands-on with ASUS’ newest creations
Who knew that putting a display on your touchpad would do so much for multi-tasking and productivity? ASUS’ ScreenPad tech gave the company’s ZenBook Pro line a distinct advantage against the MacBook Pro and gave a compelling reason for buyers to ditch Apple’s offering and go with ASUS’ notebook instead.
Now ASUS is taking the idea of a secondary screen writ large with the new ZenBook Duo and Pro Duo. These two new notebooks from ASUS have large, secondary touchscreen displays stuck right below their 4K panels, and ASUS hopes that the added functionality of the large secondary panels will be enough to draw in potential customers to these two notebooks.
That secondary display is more useful than it looks
Since it’s going to be the main focus of this article, let’s talk about the two displays first. The ZenBook Pro Duo has a 15.6-inch, 4K (3840 x 2160) OLED HDR display with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and 100% DCI-P3 coverage. It looks bright, vibrant and punchy as hell.
Right below that is a secondary, full-width 4K IPS display (3840 x 1100) dubbed the ScreenPad Plus that expands on the functions that ASUS offered with the original ScreenPad.
To put it simply, the ScreenPad Plus is ASUS’ attempt at tapping into the benefits of a second display that’s content creators typically use and putting it int a notebook. The full-width secondary display dominates almost half of the chassis and allows you to pin browser windows, apps, and other stuff to the bottom of the screen.
This opens up a whole wealth of possibilities when it comes to multitasking, especially for content creators. ASUS is actively working with companies like Adobe to produce software that’ll allow editors in premier pro, for example, to have their timeline in the bottom while their main working space is on the top, which streamlines their workflow considerably.
Streamers can also use that second display for chat, allowing them to continually engage with their subscribers without the need for a bulky, secondary display.
ASUS had to move around a few things to accommodate that screen on the chassis though. The keyboard had to be relocated to the bottom of the chassis, which makes typing on the ZenBook Pro Duo a pain unless you use the removable wrist-rest. Because of how the notebook is arranged, the ASUS moved the touchpad to the side of the keyboard. It also pulls double duty as the notebook’s numpad via a press of a button.
The ZenBook Pro Duo also inherits a lot of ASUS’ innovations in its design, like the ergolift hinge that angles the keyboard toward you when you open the lid.
The ZenBook Pro Duo is every bit as beastly on the inside as it is on the outside. The top end model gets an Intel Core i909980HK processor, along with up to 32GB of RAM, 1TB of PCIe SSD storage as well as an NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU. This means that the ZenBook Pro Duo is more than capable of handling AAA games, making it perfect for on-the-go streamers, albeit ones with a lot of money.
If you’re willing to settle for slightly lower hardware and can’t handle the sheer size of the 15.6-inch model, you can opt for the ultra-book version of the device, dubbed the ZenBook Duo. The display panel gets downgraded to a 14-inch, full HD IPS panel, with the ScreenPad Plus shrinking down from 14-inches to just 12.6-inches. Intel’s Core i7 chip powers this particular notebook, with RAM topping out at 16GB. 1TB of PCIe SSD storage can still be had, though the GPU gets downgraded to NVIDIA’s GeForce MX250.
We have no idea what the pricing is for this particular notebook as of yet, though we’re assuming these two notebooks won’t be cheap.