Asus ZenBook Pro Duo (UX581GV) review

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Asus laptop

Although there aren’t many cutting-edge dual screens or OLED laptops on the market, their number steadily increases. The 15-inch Asus ZenBook Pro Duo has the first laptop to combine them, making it a powerful photo editor and a reliable choice for those with limited space.

There are a few options for the ZenBook, but they vary by region. In the US, the entry-level model costs $2,500 and includes a Core i7-9750H six-core processor, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. In the UK, the price is PS2,500 and consists of a 256GB SSD with 8GB RAM. The middle configuration, which has a 512GB SSD plus 16GB RAM, is available for US$2,500. Pricing for Australia is unknown, but it is available on Asus’ website. 

The options appear to be comparable to those in the UK. The top configuration was a Core 9-9980HK with 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, and a Core 9980HK. It cost us around $3,000, and it will likely cost around PS3,000 in the UK. This is the best laptop for zoom meetings.

Multi-monitors make it so much easier to work and play. It’s almost like moving from an apartment to a home, and it’s not like constantly trying to juggle windows. You can also put your boring meetings aside while working on the more exciting stuff. 

The smaller screens, like the ZenBook’s half-height screen and the tiny one on HP OmenX 2S, aren’t as good as having a large second screen. This is unless you have enough space for a larger monitor.

Asus’ Screen Pad Plus functions much like the HP’s and has touchscreens. The secondary display supports basic pressure sensitivity, 1,024 levels, and comes bundled with a battery-driven stylus. Although it’s not intended for artistic expression, I found it awkwardly placed to allow for notetaking and annotation, and it’s fine for occasional digital signatures.

The ZenBooks have a second touch screen that is the same size as a traditional large touchpad. However, the Pro Duo’s has a wider display. 

It has a horizontal resolution that is 3,840 pixels like the primary screen. This makes it easier to drag windows around, but they can get a bit glitchy at different magnifications. It’s also annoying that Windows will think the second screen is “disconnected” when it takes a break from work. This is the best laptop for computer science students. This means that all open applications are redirected to the main screen when it wakes up. On both dual-screen laptops, I noticed that it was difficult to grab items at the bottom of the top and bottom screens. The cursor also jumps. Then again, everything is small.

Many mainstream applications don’t support using the second screen for tools and palettes. Lightroom became too confusing for me even to attempt.

Although Asus offers some utilities that can be used to organize windows on the second screen using their software, I don’t find them very useful. You can pin the app to a specific place, expand it to fill two screens, or swap them; you also have dedicated keys to lock the keyboard and swap screens. Although the switcher can move everything between screens, it cannot lock the keyboard or swap screens.

The touchpad to your right of the keyboard doubles as a virtual numbers pad. Although you might get random numbers at odd places, it can be used as a touchpad.

Hefty and hefty (Asus ZenBook Pro Duo)

The OLED screen comes with two undocumented software profiles and the same Samsung panel that all current models. The OLED screen is slightly darker than the others, with a peak brightness of 356 nits. However, it offers full coverage of the P3 gamut — 93% of Adobe RGB. 

It’s DisplayHDR500 True Black compliant. I am not certain of the peak brightness result of 416nits for a 10% window, and my results are still in development. It uses the same touch overlay that the HP Spectre x360 because it has the same grainy appearance up close. And it supports Windows HDR. Asus recommends a brightness of 40% for working on a battery, which is certainly too low.

There are some issues with the design. Although ZenBooks from Asus are often thin and light, this model is more similar to the Republic of Gamers gaming laptops. It measures 15 inches in length and weighs 5.5 lbs. 

It’s not an anchor, but it does have the thin-and-light devices that many people desire. It’s disappointing, given its thickness, that it doesn’t have an Ethernet jack. It also features a downward-shining LED to indicate Alexa status, which gives it an added edge of cool.

The keyboard is another problem. The keyboard is just too uncomfortable to use on your lap. Ergolift hinge is a striking design that allows airflow around the bottom. It tilts the second screen to a nice angle, so you don’t have to look over it as much as you do with the Omen. The hinge is heavy and can dig into your legs. 

The keyboard is also moved forward so that you will need the wrist rest. The rim at the edge makes it difficult to use the keys in the bottom row. This is especially bad. Asus includes a separate wrist rest. The light from the window mentioned above shines through it, which helps. However, you cannot use it on your lap.

We haven’t seen powerful models with two screens because you don’t expect a lot of battery life. The ZenBook lasts about four hours when both screens are operational, and this is better than gaming laptops but much worse than general-purpose models such as the MacBook Pro and even the Core i9 version.

Although it performs well as a gaming laptop, I prefer to use it for photo editing using Lightroom Classic CC. The application is much more CPU-intensive than GPU. Therefore, the eight-core processor makes a big difference. Even the lower-end RTX 2060 does not slow it down. You’ll be able to ray-trace faster if you choose a model with an RTX 2080.

THE GOOD (Asus ZenBook Pro Duo)

This second screen provides additional space for your workspace and offers an OLED display that allows you to see a wider range of colours. It is equipped with eight-core Core i9 processors, which deliver great performance.

THE BAD (Asus ZenBook Pro Duo)

There is no Ethernet. The keyboard has a squishy wrist rest and has poor battery life, and it’s also heavy.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Asus ZenBook Pro is a powerful contender for photo editing. It has an OLED main screen and a supplemental display, and powerful components.

 

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