New ASUS ZenBook Duo: An Affordable Dual-Screen Laptop

A dual-screen laptop: it’s the innovation you never knew you needed and probably can’t quite envision. But once you see it in real life, you’re going to want one.

ASUS has been trying to crack the dual-screen laptop conundrum for a while now, and its earlier attempts have been either underwhelming or quite expensive. For CES 2021, though, the company has massively revamped the ZenBook Duo. The new model is very, very impressive – so good that Engadget gave it a Best of CES award. And the new  Asus ZenBook Duo comes in at a price point that’s honestly a little hard to believe, just under $1000 in the base configuration.
Below, you’ll learn what’s so special about the ZenBook Duo, and why should you care about a dual-screen laptop in the first place. And if you’re considering picking one up, don’t forget to add on one of the best extended laptop warranties you can buy.

How the Dual Screen ZenBook Duo Works

You kind of need to see one to fully grasp the concept, but here’s the basic idea. The ZenBook Duo has a high-quality traditional laptop display in exactly the configuration you’d expect. But added to that experience is something the company calls ScreenPad Plus.
Typical laptops have a keyboard toward the back of the base and a trackpad toward the front. Here, the keyboard moves up to the front edge of the laptop body, while the touchpad moves over to the right (sorry, lefties). The rear half of the base (where the keyboard usually would be) is a 12.6-inch touchscreen display. That’s the ScreenPad Plus.
In the first iteration of the ZenBook Duo, ScreenPad Plus was flat on the laptop’s base. Reviewers panned this, saying the screen was too hard to see and use. ASUS listened, evidently. This year’s model features a hinge mechanism that tilts the second screen toward the user whenever the laptop lid is opened.
ASUS placed vents under this opening as well, allowing for greater ventilation without engaging the fans.

What You Can Do with the ScreenPad Plus

ScreenPad Plus can be used in a variety of ways. You can set it as an extended monitor, giving you extra screen real estate connected to your main display. In this way, the second screen functions just like any other second monitor would. Any normal windowed application can be pulled down to the ScreenPad Plus in this mode. ScreenPad Plus also takes on special functions in some apps and has custom system-wide features, like handwriting recognition with the included pen.
Some third-party apps have built-in support for the ScreenPad Plus or function especially well on it due to preexisting touch or pen support. Adobe’s Creative Cloud integrates beautifully, with a customizable tool deck that far eclipses anything Apple’s Touch Bar can do.
Streamers can find impressive uses for the ScreenPad Plus as well because it’s the perfect size to handle most of the typical streaming tools and utilities. You just won’t be streaming any ultra-high-end PC games unless you spring for the discrete graphics card or wait for the Pro Duo 15 model later in the year.

Speaking of Models

The Asus ZenBook Duo is a 14-inch main screen device with solid performance, but it isn’t necessarily a powerhouse. The Duo offers 11th-gen Core i5 or i7 processors and has an optional discrete Nvidia MX450. It’s quite adequate for most consumers, but pro users will want more.
ASUS also has another model waiting in the wings: the Pro Duo 15 OLED. As you might have guessed, this will be a 15-inch main screen device. Higher power in CPU and GPU (including an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070) will make this entry a worthy competitor to the blisteringly expensive ROG Zephyrus Duo.

Downsides and Weak Points

With anything new, there’s bound to be a trade-off or two. For one, the extra display creates extra thickness and weight. Also, the trackpad and keyboard aren’t stellar. First, if you’re left-handed and don’t want to trackpad with your right, this is not the machine for you. The trackpad is all the way to the right and using it with your left hand just isn’t going to be comfortable.
Along those same lines, the keyboard just feels off center. Some users also don’t like the feel of a keyboard that is close to the edge of the device. Using an external keyboard and mouse gets around this, but then makes the touchscreen that much harder to use.

Getting an Asus ZenBook Duo? Get an Equally Impressive Extended Warranty to Match

Picking up an awesome new piece of hardware like the ZenBook Duo is exciting! You’ll certainly want to be protected if something should go wrong. The new dual screen involves extra moving parts, and there’s always a chance of damage or failure.
An extended warranty from Upsie is the way to get protection at a reasonable cost. Choose from two or three years of extended coverage – including accident protection from drops, bumps, and spills.

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