Making the perfect laptop for creators is an uphill task. Every creator has a different need but the most common one they all have is the need for more screen space. Asus identified this need and have been stuffing dual display setups in its ZenBook laptops. The ZenBook Pro Duo was the flagship one with a half-sized display sitting above the keyboard and when I used it first, I fell in love with the concept. In 2022, Asus has released another updated iteration of the same and this time, the changes are small but work in a big way to affect the end user experience drastically. Positively or negatively? That’s what we are here to find out.
The Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo for 2022 gets a fancy high refresh rate OLED display, the latest 12th Gen Intel processors, some update design elements, and a smartened up ScreenPad Plus software. It now starts at Rs. 144,990 but Asus has shipped us the droolworthy Intel Core i9 variant with all the bells and whistles, costing a whopping Rs. 224,990. That puts it in the Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch territory and that means this laptop has to prove itself in the best of ways.
If you have seen a ZenBook Pro Duo laptop previously, the design seems exactly the same, save for minor refinements and a new logo. For those coming from conventional “single screen” laptops, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo is a piece of sci-fi tech that deserves its own space on Iron Man’s desk, if Iron Man had a conventional work station. A 14.5-inch 2.8K OLED display accompanied by a 12.7-inch secondary display is a setup that makes the MacBook Pro with its display notch look dated. You also get a keyboard and a trackpad, all stacked up on the deck.
The secondary display lofts up by a vast angle to aid cooling and a better viewing angle. Great, right? Sadly, it pushes the keyboard and trackpad at inconvenient spaces. Hence, it becomes tricky to type long documents on the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo.
While it may seem lightweight at 1.7 kilos, all of the mass is concentrated in a small space and that makes the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo a tricky beast to handle. Moreover, the AAS hinge, or active aero hinge has lots of moving parts that only add to the delicacy of the laptop.
Thankfully, it all seems normal when you shut the lid – it looks like a regular laptop. You even get your conventional I/O ports – a couple of USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, some USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 port, and an SD card reader. There’s a facial recognition system for quick biometric verification and unlocking.
Creators don’t compromise with the display and Asus had done exactly the same. In its dual display setup, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo gets a 14.5-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2.8K, touchscreen input, and a refresh rate of 120Hz. The secondary display measures 12.7-inches, has an equally high resolution, uses a 120Hz touch LCD panel with up to 500 nits of brightness.
The luxury of having two displays is unmatched and the ones doing duty here are some of the best panels I have ever seen on a laptop. The main display is bright, vivid and shows high contrasts. The touch input is highly responsive, which can be also said for the secondary display. The OLED and LCD colour profiles don’t match though and I wish Asus had managed to use an OLED panel for the secondary display, even if it added to the costs.
The 12th Generation of Intel processors have proven themselves to be highly power efficient and capable, especially when raw performance is considered. With an Intel Core i9-12900H processor at the helm along with an NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti graphics and up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM with 1TB of M.2 PCIe SSD 4.0 storage, this ZenBook Pro 14 Duo that I had has been extremely tempting.
In the real world, the laptop exhibits performance as expected from a well-specced Windows 11 machine. The laptop handles all of my office workloads with absolute ease, which included the usual management of 9-10 Google Chrome tabs, a couple of Word docs, YouTube Music streaming in the background, and then some more. However, doing all of that on the dual screen setup makes it easier than most other Windows 11 laptops. I was able to have 2-3 Chrome tabs open together, and managing the layouts was easy. For example, imagine working on a Word document that extends from the main display to the secondary one! It is magic!
Sadly, the keyboard itself is set in an awkward position and it makes typing a tricky exercise. The keys have decent travel though. I recommend investing in a separate keyboard for better typing experience. The same goes for the trackpad, which is placed awkwardly and using a mouse makes for a smarter choice.
Since the second display is Asus’ creation, it gets a special ScreenPad Plus software. There’s lots of features to play with here but after the initial setup, I never found myself reaching for it. Asus has also loaded up the laptop with lots of bloatware apps and most of it is better left untouched.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti GPU is good enough for basic video and photo editing as well as casual gaming. However, hardcore gamers seeking 1080p gaming at High settings on modern day titles like F1 22 and Forza Horizon 5 will be left disappointed.
The audio performance via the onboard speakers is decent but not great. These speakers are loud but they lack the depth and low end you get from a MacBook Pro. The onboard webcam is decent in its quality, not as good as the MacBook Pro laptops.
On paper, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo seems to have a meaty 76Whr battery. On a conventional laptop, this battery would make it last easily for 7-8 hours. However, when you have a Core i9 processor paired to two high resolution high refresh rate displays, this massive battery can barely manage to keep the laptop alive for more than four hours. Compared to a 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro, this is dismal. Hence, you will need to use it as a mobile desktop PC rather than a laptop computer.
The Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo is unbeatable when it comes to versatility – it is simply the king of versatility. The luxury of a dual display setup in a standard 15-inch laptop form factor is still unbelievable. Not only that, both these displays are of the nicer kind. There’s ample raw performance to tap and the best part is that you can shut it all like a normal laptop when you need to carry it around.
However, there are some big caveats. Practicality isn’t the best here, especially if you have to type a lot on your PC. The battery life is dismal as well when you compare it to a MacBook Pro 14-inch. Most importantly, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo is expensive. The version that I tested at Rs. 224,990 is an overkill with its Core i9 processor and most buyers should be happy with the Core i5 variant. Even for power users, the choice of a single RTX 3050Ti GPU isn’t enough and Asus should have offered options to go for the RTX 3070.
Most importantly, the Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo still feels like a concept laptop with a lot of workarounds. Windows 11 itself isn’t suited for a multi-display laptop and that’s where it feels incomplete. Plus, more creators usually work with a 4K desktop monitor, which is way more practical than the half display you get on this machine. Why not spend the same Rs. 2 lakhs on a MacBook Pro 14-inch then?
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