ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo Specs & Price – Whenever a tech company tries something really different, there’s always a Cowdrey of killjoys in the comments. It’s not a bad thing. You should be alert to gimmicks. You should want a real utility for your money. Not just a buzz-worthy tool to drool over. Every once in a while, a company manages to give us both. This is the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo. Duo because of its dual 4K touchscreen displays. It has more working area than any laptop. And has more power than most people will need. And Also It has a terrible battery life and barely fits in a bag. Never the less, it also has my glowing recommendation.
I teamed up with Windows Central to buy this machine when I got tired of waiting for a review unit. But I really don’t want to give the device up because it turns out having more than one display is incredibly useful. Up until now, to do that on the go, you needed to buy a portable monitor. Which, I tried once and hated. For me, it’s just not fun or worth it to carry that much extra stuff. The ZenBook Pro Duo builds that second screen right in. It’s just as sharp as the main display. And it’s no tiny touch bar either but a fully-fledged 14-inch touchscreen. Spanning the entire width of the machine.
You probably know the first compromise I’m gonna call out about it. This is not a small computer. At almost an inch thick and five and a half pounds. Even without its monster charging brick, of which it needs since it can’t charge through USB-C. Carrying it reminds me of trucking around my old HP Pavilion from 2006. Also, to make room for the screen pad, Asus had to bump the keyboard down to the very edge and cram the trackpad alongside it.
If that sounds uncomfortable, the included wrist rest in the box would seem to be an omission of that. In a lap, it’s awkward. On a bus or an Amtrak seatback tray, it’s hilarious. But put the thing on a desk, either in your office or at your local coffee shop. And really it’s not all that different from typing on a typical notebook. At least not for me. Bonus points for the touchscreen num pad that you can summon when you need and dismiss when you don’t.
So how do you go about using that added screen? Well, Windows treats the screen pad just like a second display that you would plug into the HDMI port. So if you want, you can only use it as an extension of your desktop. You can run one program on a full screen. Or you can run two or three apps side by side. The screen is sharp enough that that kind of multitasking is still useful.
I’ll give you a perfect example. I was setting up the Wi-Fi connection, and I needed to look up how to change a setting on Microsoft.com. So I pinned the instructions down on the screen pad, and I followed them up on the main screen. For everyday tasks like writing this review, my daily set us is Google Docs on the main screen with Evernote and Slack down in the screen pad. So I can keep an eye on coms and take notes for the shot list as I go.
And I can save that as preset. So instead of going back in every day and reopening everything and repositioning my apps. I just tap on the menu and hit one. Or if I’m relaxing a little, I ran three instead, and Spotify pops up alongside Twitter and the brief I’m working on. And if it turns out, “Hey, you know what, I’d like to see those up on the big screen instead.” There’s a dedicated button on the keyboard that flips the screen so you can do just that.
Is it possible to do the same thing by juggling tabs or using traditional multitasking on a regular laptop? Yes, of course. But it’s more comfortable, and it’s faster. I don’t need to click or swipe. I can just look down, and the stuff I’m looking for is already there. Now, if you’ve seen my laptop reviews before, you know that for me, a big-screen windows machine is always an excuse to fire up TIE Fighter again.
And the second screen is actually useful here, too. While I was splashing rebels on the main display, I could track my pizza deliver the order on the second screen. I had to simulate this for this shot because I’m trying to behave a little better on the diet, but you know what I mean. Props also for the two USB-A ports that let me use my late 90’s joystick.
This is the top tier model with the ninth generation Core i9 by the way. And based on reporting from DigitalTrans and PC Mag. That turbo button isn’t just for show. This thing really does have plenty of power to do nearly anything you could want on the go. As such, it’s targeted at creators. See the inputted stylus in the box. If I ever follow through on my threat to switch away from Final Cut, I’d love to try video editing on this monster.
There’s also no SD card slot, which makes no sense given the targeted customer. Juggling programs between primary and secondary screens isn’t always a smooth process. The system will sometimes swap in the wrong window down there. I haven’t figured that out yet. I’ve had more weird restart and driver issues on this machine than with other Windows laptops. Probably again, thanks to that second display.
In terms of cosmetics, the cover has a universal design that picks up a lot of fingerprints, which I don’t like. And while the MAD coding is smart, there’s still a big glare problem if you do any working at a window. I almost wish there was a mechanism that made this pop up when you open the laptop.
And the most significant compromise, battery life. I tend to use eight hours as my benchmark for acceptability on a modern laptop, and I didn’t even get half of that here. Three hours and 15 minutes are the best I could manage on a typical workday. In a pinch, you can squeeze a bit more by disabling the screen pad, but then, of course, why buy this thing at all? At a starting price of $2500, that’s an important question to ask regardless. Stick with me through the jump, and I’ll share my own answer.
So yes, the ZenBook Pro Duo has its drawbacks. But you know, this is the first laptop in a long while to give me genuine gadget lust. And which brought enough added utility that once the honeymoon phase wore off, kept me excited about using it.
I wish it were lighter, and I hope it lasted longer but in the desktop replacement category of notebooks. There’s not a better mix of power and productivity for me than the ZenBook Pro Duo.
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