Like The Apple Touch Bar, But Better: Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 Laptop Review

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As any desktop user can attest, having two screens instead of one can really boost productivity and the ZenBook Duo is no different in this regard. It’s tough going back to just one screen after becoming accustomed to spacious dual-screen setups and this is the key advantage that Asus is banking on.

For a laptop form factor, however, users will have to accept some compromises. Firstly, weight is the most obvious drawback as the system is several hundred grams heavier than a regular ZenBook 14. Secondly, colors on the second screen will not be as vivid as on the Pantone-certified main display. Thirdly, the wide viewing angle between the user and second screen will both accentuate glare and reduce apparent brightness more noticeably unless if ambient conditions are perfect. Fourthly, the uncommon keyboard positioning can be a learning curve especially if typing in tight work spaces. And lastly, the screens don’t do very well when outdoors despite the compact 14-inch size and surprisingly long battery life. OLED could have potentially addressed many of these issues, but such an approach would have likely driven prices up significantly.

There are a couple other missing features we’d like to see on future revisions. A physical webcam privacy shutter and the ability to charge via USB Type-C, for example, are not available here even though they have become standard on most other flagship laptops.

If the above disadvantages don’t bother you or if you think you can overcome them, then you’ll find the portable ZenBook Duo and its second screen to be invaluable for your multi-tasking needs.

The Asus ZenBook Duo is at its best when working in an environment with controlled lighting and an external mouse to maximize the visibility and ergonomics of the secondary display. If you travel and like to save space, then the ZenBook Duo makes a lot of sense. If you have table space to spare, however, then a standard ZenBook 14 and a proper external monitor would get you further.

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