Asus always likes to use its home-town Computex trade show, which is also the biggest computer hardware event in the world, to show off a wide and sometimes wild range of new products. And this time it’s really outdone itself — one of the most decadent laptops ever created is the headline announcement is Asus ZenBook Pro Duo.
There are not one, but two 4 K screens in the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo. (At least if you’re counting horizontal pixels.) There’s a 15-inch 16:9 OLED panel where you would normally find a laptop display, then a 32:9 IPS “ScreenPad Plus” screen directly above the same width and half the height of the keyboard. As if Asus were looking at the MacBook Pro Touch Bar and thinking “what if that, but 32 times as many pixels?”
However, the ScreenPad Plus takes nothing away from the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, unlike the Touch Bar, except presumably battery life. Asus still included a full-size keyboard with a function row, including an escape key, and the trackpad is on the right side. The design is very reminiscent of Asus ‘ Zephryus slimline gaming laptops— even the light-up etching that allows you to use the trackpad as a numpad is still available. HP also recently tried something similar, although his second screen was much smaller.
Asus has built some ScreenPad Plus software that makes it more of a secondary control panel, but if you want to split it into two smaller 16:9 1080p windows, you can also use it as a full-on monitor, or even two. You can also set it to work as a main screen extension, so when you scroll down, websites rise from above your keyboard, which is pretty unnerving. Or you might use it to watch Arabia’s Lawrence while jamming on Excel spreadsheets.
BOTH SCREENS LOOK GOOD, BUT DIFFERENT The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo has an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU eight-core Intel Core i9 processor. Four far-field microphones are designed for use with Alexa and Cortana, and at the bottom, there is an echo-style blue light that activates with voice commands. It has a port of Thunderbolt 3, two USB-A ports, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port of full size.
Even when running an intensive video editing software demo, performance seemed fine in my short time using the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, without any hiccups or hitches. It’s a pretty heavy 2.5 kg laptop (around 5.5lbs), but that’s to be expected given the internals of the gaming laptop class. I’d also expect its battery life to fall somewhere near that particular product category, though we’re going to have to wait and see.
While both screens looked good, I’m going to say that they looked different. Part of that is due to the primary OLED panel’s searing intensity, but the ScreenPad Plus is also covered with a matte finish and usually looks less bright due to how you naturally view it off angle.
Asus also makes the ZenBook Duo a cheaper and smaller 14-inch model. The design and concept are basically the same, but both screens are full HD instead of 4 K, there is no Core i9 option, and the discrete GPU has been significantly downgraded to an MX250.
Asus has not announced pricing or availability for the ZenBook Pro Duo or the ZenBook Duo, but in the third quarter of this year, they are expected to land.