ASUS is making a strong case for dual-screen laptops and the beautiful ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is the latest addition to this trend. It carries on the concept introduced in last year’s ZenBook Pro and enlarges it to provide a fully functional dual screen. The secondary screen covers almost half of the keyboard, immediately below the original screen. ASUS calls it the ScreenPad Plus and the company has worked to produce something focused on productivity. Apple’s Touch Bar is the closest thing that comes to mind, but ASUS’s effort is way ahead in this regard.
The ScreenPad Plus can be best described as a 4k screen reduced to half its size, measuring 14 x 4 inches. The resolution is 3840 x 1100 pixels and it seems slightly awkward. The screen is pretty useful and can support 3 applications opened side by side. It can present WhatsApp and Slack conversations adjacent to each other, in a pretty decent manner.
The real question is whether the dual-screen fulfills your need. First-time users might not feel an overwhelming need for a dual-screen laptop. However, rest assured that almost everyone uses a PC/laptop and mobile at the same time. The dual-screen enables apps to be moved between each other using the drag option. There’s also a convenient button that immediately switches open apps between the two screens instantaneously. This means that if WhatsApp is open on the second screen and Google Chrome on the main screen then the two would switch screens. You can even send an app to the bottom screen or spread it over both screens by using a special toolbar.
The laptop’s real ingenuity is useful for people using multiple desktop monitors. You can use the secondary screen for updates, conversations, etc. while using the main screen for work-related tasks. Professional users will appreciate the ease of switching apps between the two screens. Since both screens are right in front of you, there’s a lesser chance of missing an important notification while you are busy with work. The screen width is useful and a definite improvement on the miniature ZenBook Pro model. There is a downside to the screen size and the keyboard size may seem a bit disconcerting while considering that you are using a 15-inch laptop.
The dual screens boast touch displays and this is an added advantage as compared to other laptops. This feature is truly useful on the secondary screen and you can quickly skip displays or change videos, without reaching for the mouse. A wide array of toolbars can be displayed on the secondary screen but expanding apps across both screens is a bit hectic, as it damages the display quality. Hopefully, ASUS will resolve this issue in future models.
It’s important to remember that the secondary display is basically an LCD screen as compare to the main 15.6 inch 4K screen boasting OLED and HDR features. The contrast and color display of the main screen is a class apart and matching brightness is time-consuming. The brightness button handles the main screen and a separate option needs to be pulled up to operate the ScreenPad Plus. This means that there might be a slight contrast in screen colors, but for most people, the difference won’t be noticeable.
The ScreenPad Plus decreases the need for maintaining different windows at all times. Although the screen is a bit overloaded, you can still operate two fully functional displays in one machine. Most users would love to operate YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp displays on this screen. The 15.6 display is suitable for most tasks and beats the aesthetically pleasing 13-inch displays, as far as performance is concerned. Since both the screens are in direct line of sight it’s not a hassle to view them.
ZenBook Pro Duo Performance
The ZenBook Pro Duo is a powerful machine and comes equipped with Intel’s 10th-generation octa-core i9-10980HK, 32GB of RAM, 1 TB PCIe SSD super fast hard disk, and a powerful enough GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. The features allow users to balance interests like hardcore gaming and intensive content creation. Games like Destiny 2 and Overwatch can easily be played in 1080p x 1440p and the capabilities can be measured against desktop replacements like Alienware Area 51m. Serious gamers will acknowledge that the mentioned Alienware machine is in a league of its own.
The Pro Duo has a level surface and presents polished edges along the sides. The port options don’t leave much to be desired as full-sized HDMI, two USB 3.1 Type-A connections, and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 socket are standard features. The only downside is the absence of a built-in SD card reader.
In order to accommodate the additional screen, ASUS had to shift down the keyboard to the laptop’s bottom. This, however, doesn’t affect the keyboard size and the large keys along with 1.44 mm travel space doesn’t disturb the typing experience. The trackpad is placed on the right-hand side and takes some getting used to. It’s placed in a position similar to an external mouse for right-handers and the height is certainly useful. The keyboard’s position might be a bit uncomfortable as it doesn’t allow space for hand rest and this can be mitigated by using the wrist rest already included in the package.
The ZenBook Pro Duo is somewhat bulky as it’s an inch thick and weighs 5.5 pounds. This thickness is double in comparison to Dell XPS 15 and it’s almost one pound heavier. The Dell laptop does suffer from slower NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics and is only equipped with a single screen, but on the other side, it’s easier to carry and has Intel’s 10th Gen CPU.
ZenBook Duo Pro Price
The 15.6-inch ZenBook Pro Duo’s premium model costs between $2,999 and $2,299 (depending on the specs), which is slightly more expensive than a Dell XPS 15 and a 15-inch MacBook Pro. At the same time, the standard version is more competitive at a price of $1279, which we think is a great price for a new dual-screen capability.
The battery life spans between 4 to 6.5 hours, depending on the type of usage. Operating both screens, while using multiple windows and evening lopping an HD video, it will come near the lower benchmark. The same tasks on the main screen will lead to a battery life of 6.5 hours.
The ZenBook Pro Duo is a major leap in dual-screen laptops and Intel has already showcased a dual-screen gaming laptop in last year’s Computex. Currently, the ASUS version shows that dual-screen capability can be easily equipped in a single machine, without any add-ons or unnecessary accessories. In a way, it’s the best possible use of the keyboard area, while enhancing functionality.
In case you want a sleek, sophisticated laptop then ZenBook Pro Duo is not designed for you. However, those who are aching for a portable dual-screen experience will really appreciate this machine and the featured specs. At no point do you feel you are compromising anything to attain the dual-screen experience. If you have one or are thinking of getting one, please do let us know your thoughts, questions, or suggestions in the comments below.