Keyboard-in-the-front club, this one’s for you.Asus did it. It has created a dual-screen laptop which — and there was a moment when I didn’t think I’d be using these words — is actually quite good.
Asus has been using dual-screen technology for a while. Parts of the $1.999.99 ZenBook Pro Duo14 OLED are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The ScreenPad Plus is a 14.5-inch screen at the top, with a smaller 12.7 inch screen at the back. The keyboard is located below the screen, reaching all the way to said deck’s front. A tiny touchpad is tucked to its right.
The company made a small adjustment that made the experience much more comfortable. They raised the secondary screen 12 degrees.
This, dear reader, has made everything possible. The secondary screen tilted up seven degrees by last year’s Zenbook Duo model, which was 14 inches. The 2020 model was even more flat. Both cases had me constantly looking up to see what was on the second screen.
Although the 12 degree increase doesn’t seem like much on paper, it has made the screen high enough that I don’t need to crane anymore. As I write this, I am sitting in my office chair, leaning back. I actually recline slightly. I can see the Pro Duo’s primary screen, as well as the content on its secondary screen. In this reclined position, I can read the words on its secondary screen.
If you were skeptical about how small the touchpad was.
New logo with the same concentric design.
Other tweaks make it much easier to see the secondary screen from a distance. It’s brighter than last years, reaching 500 nits. It also has a higher resolution (2280 x 864). It also features an “anti-glare engraving” which prevents it from reflecting ceiling lights, which was a problem in the past.
Folks, the second screen can be useful. In the past, the second screen was just a place to put distractions like Twitter and Slack while I worked on the top half. I can now keep reference materials there so I can read them while I work.
Does that mean the laptop’s benefits outweigh the sacrifices necessary to fit a second screen? No. We’re now at the point where this is just a preference for keyboard position. Asus has solved almost everything else.
ScreenXpert is a great tool to help you visualize the deck layout. This software allows the two screens of the Duo to work together. It has improved a lot from its previous state, which was unresponsive and glitchy. The new ScreenXpert 3 version, which is now available on this device, looks much more professional than the previous versions. It’s very easy to use and windows are resized exactly as they should. Although I did occasionally have to tap the button a few times to get something to open up, that was it. It’s intuitive and has a very easy learning curve. ScreenXpert software is not always intuitive.
A taskbar is a miniature Windows taskbar that acts as a floating Windows taskbar. It has quick buttons that allow you to toggle brightness, phone mirroring and open an app navigation screen. You can also lock the keyboard and make all windows on the ScreenPad disappear so the desktop background is displayed. Although I was prepared to complain about their inutility, I discovered that you can customize the Control Center Settings panel. This panel is available after a little bit of digging. You can also drag the taskbar to the bottom or side.
I’m still a big fan of task groups, which can be accessed from the taskbar and allows you to “save”, or arrange tabs and apps in a way that you prefer to open again later. This feature is something I use often on my Duo devices.
The touchpad is the other thing I love. The touchpad on the Duo 14 is so small that it’s almost useless. In the past, I used a stylus in every situation. That’s how I was doing it until I discovered TouchPad mode.
The ScreenPad can be turned into a touchpad by using the Touchpad mode. You just need to tap the screen with three fingers. To make it a ScreenPad again, tap the X in its top-right corner. The touchpad is responsive to all gestures and works well. There are some downsides. There is no click mechanism, but tap-to-click does work well. It is also possible to reach over the keyboard to use it. This is a bit strange, but I got used to it. The touchpad interface is opaque so you can’t see any other content on the ScreenPad when it’s pulled up. Although I’m hopeful that Asus will make it transparent in the future I’m still happy to see this feature.
On the right, you will find two USB-C ports and one USB-A. (There are also ports on the back. The Intel Core i7-12700H inside the unit is a mainstream processor we have mostly seen in high-performance gaming laptops, workstations, and workstations such as Alienware’s X14. My unit has 16GB RAM and 1TB storage, as well as an Nvidia GeForce GTX 3050 Ti GPU. Asus claims it will cost $1.999.99, which I love for these specs.
My general work use cases were as smooth as you would expect. I could have Chrome tabs on top of Zoom calls and YouTube streams without any issues on either screen. Although the RTX3050 Ti is not designed for AAA gaming, it is more capable of handling lighter titles.
We have a new logo.
Although the keyboard can sometimes feel warm, I didn’t feel any discomfort at all on the bottom or there. This is due to Asus’ new cooling system (“IceCool Plus”), which includes two 12-volt fans with 97 blades and 93 blades, respectively. Asus claims that the device is quiet when it is using the Whisper Mode cooling profile. This seems to be true to my knowledge. Even though I was not using Whisper Mode, I could barely hear the fans.
Battery life was mixed. I managed to work for five hours with both screens at medium brightness. This is not enough time to complete a full day, but it’s not bad considering that the device has two high-resolution screens. The original Pro Duo took just over two hours. The Zephyrus Duo 15, which is more gaming-oriented, took one hour and 48 minutes to complete the same workload. You can turn the ScreenPad off if you need more juice by pressing a hotkey on your keyboard.
It is so beautiful!
The primary screen is 16/10 (hurray! It is the first 120Hz OLED display on a laptop, if not the very best. There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, full-sized HDMI 2.0, a USB Type-A, two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SD Express 7.0 card reader. The port selection is also excellent. It’s great to see the device keeping the HDMI and SD card slots, as many premium 14-inchers have switched to USB-C. Wi-Fi SmartConnect is another Asus-specific feature that allows the device to automatically connect to the best signal available in its current environment.
Asus, you are clever! The Pro Duo 14 has made me realize that even the best dual-screen design factor doesn’t make up for the fact that I cannot stand having a keyboard in that position. Some people love front-mounted keyboards. I don’t know why. This keyboard is amazing. The keys click well with a decent 1.4mm travel, which is a feature I would love to swoon over. I hate typing because my hands are always pressed against my chest, like a T. Rex.
This is something Asus could fix, but I’m not sure. This design seems to be a compromise. I won’t enjoy typing on a keyboard that doesn’t provide me with a place to rest my wrists. This is a legitimate purchase for those who don’t have the issue.
It’s not for me as a frequent lapuser.
Asus has done everything possible to make the Pro Duo 14 a practical, usable dual screen system. I believe that most of the problems that could have been fixed have been resolved. Chaim Gartenberg, who wrote a critical review of the first-generation Zenbook Duo said, “There is an amazing laptop buried in the raw clay.” Three years later, Asus finally found that laptop. This is fantastic.
Duo laptops’ future may depend on whether you like having a keyboard at the front of your deck. This is a good sign considering the many issues these devices have had previously.
Photography by Monica Chin/The Verge
Every smart device requires that you agree to certain terms and conditions before you can use them. These are contracts that no one actually understands. We are unable to review and analyze all of these agreements. We started counting how many times we had to click “agree” for devices to be used when we reviewed them, since these agreements aren’t something most people read and can’t negotiate.
Like other Windows computers, the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14OLED offers many options for you to accept or decline during setup.
These are the mandatory policies that require an agreement:
A request for your keyboard layout and region
Microsoft Software License Terms and Asus Notification
Sign into a Microsoft account
Create a PIN
There are also a variety of optional items you can agree to:
Connect to Wi-Fi network
Name your device
Privacy settings for devices: Inking and typing, Find My Device, Advertising ID, Location, Diagnostic Data, Tailored Experiences
You can personalize your device to get personalized tips, ads and recommendations. You can choose between entertainment and gaming, school, creativity and business.
Microsoft 365 Free Trial
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Free Trial
To save to your device, enter your name, phone number, region, email address and phone number. Then, fill in the MyAsus app member registration form to become an Asus member.
There are six mandatory and 14 optional agreements.