Over the years there have been several attempts to bring to the market a valid notebook that integrates two displays on board, but they have never really succeeded in their purpose, Asus included. What, however, many manufacturers have underestimated has always been the software, never properly optimized to the point of being able to fully exploit the features that a second screen can bring on board a notebook.
With the new Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED all these problems of previous generations have been solved and, in addition to a few structural changes, the Taiwanese IT giant has found the right answer on how to optimize all the software functions: spoiler? He succeeded.
Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED review
Design, construction and ScreenDuo
Before talking to you about the most intrinsic goodies of this product, I want to describe how it is made because theAsus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED has an entirely metal frame and is characterized by an assembly and a maniacal construction, attentive to detail: the absurd thing is the weight, of only 1750 grams, a feather if you think that a second display is integrated with a lot of mechanisms and various hinges to allow opening and movement.
Speaking of opening, the notebook's Asus it is not one of those that can be opened with one hand: attention, very often it is synonymous with a bad balance of weights and components inside the shells, but in this case when you open the notebook, the hinge of the second display that allows you to raise the second screen approximately 12 degrees. In all this, the thickness of the Asus notebook does not increase that much to the point of leaving ample space available for the two USB-C ports on the right side and even one USB-A, on the left side only the slots for dissipation and on the back there is the entrance for the power supply (supplied in the package, 180W), a MicroSD slot and an HDMI port.
Talk about this notebook as a traditional product would be absolutely a mistake, for obvious reasons: compared to the previous generation of Zenbook Duo, Asus has improved the second display allowing it to move and "get up" more, so as to avoid annoying reflections on the screen and allow perfect readability. The primacy that Asus owns lies in the fact that it has managed to implement a 2.8K panel at 120Hz with 3% DCI-P100 color coverage, Stylus support (also included in the package) and at a brightness maximum of 500 Nits, values that many other notebooks do not even reach with the main display.
The trump card, in my opinion, is contained in the opaque protection which has been included that not only limits reflections, but also contributes to making the user experience much better than on a glossy display. Its usefulness? Before saying that it is useless, you should use it a few hours, during which in 90% of cases you will fall in love with it, and in the remaining 10% of cases you will hate it because of the very small keyboard, but I'll tell you later.
However, thanks to the app ScreenXpert made by Asus, we have the possibility to put all the functions of the second display at full capacity: in essence it is a sort of dock that allows you to take advantage of a series of shortcuts and quick optimizations aimed at improving productivity, such as calling up a window layout, quickly opening apps, turning controls off or on, and so on. And if this should seem to you poco, keep in mind that Windows it recognizes it as a full-fledged second screen and therefore you can drag and drop windows, apps, icons and so on.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Okay, one of the (few, actually) reasons you might hate this notebook is there keyboard, and the annex touchpad: to keep the size like any other notebook in circulation, and in addition to add a second display, the company is logical that it had to resort to some renunciation, and did so by removing the "empty" space that usually exists at the bottom under the keyboard of notebooks, which we could probably define the "palm rest" area.
Here, on Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED this area is totally missing, and the body "ends" with the last row of keys: forget, therefore, to rest your wrists while typing and keep in mind that using this notebook in different positions from the classic seat to the desk, it is a bit complicated to imagine, as well as to put into practice. Too bad, even if on the other hand I have to say that the keyboard is exceptional, it has one nice stroke from 1.4mm, and obviously backlit and has a strong feedback, especially due to the metal structure that makes it sturdy and solid like very few.
Then there is the other negative: the touchpad. He was inserted in the position that is usually reserved for the numeric keypad, but with very small dimensions and with a different aspect ratio than usual, a tall, narrow rectangle with the two external physical buttons. To make up for the lack of a real touchpad, we think about the "virtual" touchpad that can be obtained on the second screen: by pressing with three fingers on the display, in fact, we will have the possibility to use the screen as a real touchpad for almost 13 inches, albeit with a different position than we have been used to for decades. Cool, and above all more comfortable than you might think.
Among the features that most amazed me at a technical and theoretical level there is undoubtedly the display: it is the first 14.5 ″ OLED touchscreen panel with 2K resolution and ai 120Hz, with an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a response time of 0,2ms, which makes it ideal also for gaming given the latency so low.
What amazed me, too, is the color coverage DCI-P3 by 100% and its maximum brightness up to 550 Nits: I think this is a panel that comments itself and does not need much introduction, especially if you add to all this the fact that it also supports the pen. I also found the integrated Asus app very convenient, which allows you to adjust at full temperature and color profiles, in case you feel the need.
For the rest, using this notebook to play high-definition movies, or play the most recent titles, is an indescribable pleasure: the colors are perfect, the brightness is excellent (sometimes even annoying if you are in the dark) and the viewing angles are exceptional. The second display, on the other hand, shows slightly duller colors but this is due to the opaque finish that was chosen: personally I do not consider it a problem, and indeed from the point of view of intensive daily use I preferred this finish that holds significantly fewer fingerprints and allows easier finger scrolling in use.
Speakers and audio quality
The audio of the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED it is phenomenal: the company has not actually stated how many speakers and what power are those installed on board, but I can tell you that the lower and lateral positioning on both sides (so a total of four sound points) really makes a dirty figure.
The company used a technology Smart Amp in collaboration with Harman Kardon, and in practice this translates into a decidedly very high playback volume (probably even higher than my 1 ″ Macbook Pro M14) and an equalization that I personally consider perfect, but certainly not suitable for everyone. I am referring to the fact that the higher frequencies are predominant, it is no coincidence that the sound is crystalline and clear in the songs with many highs or where there is a lot of "voice" and more lacking in the low frequencies, which instead is the most " forte ”of my Macbook.
Hardware and Performance
On the hardware front, Asus has spared no expense: it is fair to say that there are different versions of this on the market Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED, but I was lucky to be able to stress the most complete (and expensive, I would add) version of all: my unit comes with the new Intel Core i9-12900H, 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 1TB of SSD M2 N.VMe PCIe 4.0 and one Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti GPU which is in addition to the integrated Iris XE from Intel. The connectivity part is completed with a network card with support for the WiFi 6E Dual Band and Bluetooth 5.
Obviously if we wanted to do a brief and superficial analysis of the performance of this notebook, there would be well poco to deepen: it is a PC not for everyone, for everyone it would be definitely too much. The hardware it is equipped with makes us feel comfortable in practically all the use scenarios that come to mind: I tried it to render videos on Premiere in FullHD at 60fps 10bit without difficulty up to 3-4 video tracks and 2-3 audio tracks and I played with Call of Duty Black Ops, but here the behavior was more anomalous than expected as the performances were dancers, not some crashes were missing and the framerate was not the best; it is true, however, that products like the RTX3050Ti are not really suitable for gaming, but I would have expected something more.
Of course, I also used it for the simpler tasks like web browsing, offline document processing, email and a whole lot more. No sign of failure, although I have to tell you one thing: dissipation and temperatures made me worry a bit, because in the benchmarking that I ran (which, ok, are not traditional scenarios) the CPU touched for a few moments i 100%, even if the fans with which the notebook is equipped have brought the situation back to normal in less than a minute.
Speaking of fans, it is very easy for them to start and not stop anymore: in my days of use, in fact, even playing 4K samples on YouTube, so nothing too stressful, the fans start at maximum power with all the consequences of the case. , including noise and excessive heat coming from the sides, which may annoy you when you use the notebook on your lap, for example. In general, however, with intensive and stressful use the temperatures rise, and even in the upper central area of the keyboard they reach about 55 degrees.
I do not think, however, that it is a problem of dissipation and engineering, but rather a not excellent software management: I tried to modify the fans with some tools, managing them manually, and I found some interesting improvements.
Ok, if there is one thing that did not thrill me, but I expected it, it is definitely the battery; Asus has integrated a 76WHr battery not removable, and rechargeable up to 180W thanks to the power supply included in the package. As for the duration, given the presence of a double display, moreover OLED and 120Hz, I never expected an autonomy like other notebooks, even if the results are absolutely not comparable due to its unique "conformation" .
The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED manages to offer an average autonomy of about 5 hours with mixed use, which can go down to poco more than 3 if you use it for video rendering, photo editing and so on. To improve the situation a little, it could be convenient to turn off the secondary display if you do not use it, and this will make you recover about 10/15% more autonomy.
Price and Considerations
If you asked me, so casually, what I think of this notebook I would undoubtedly answer that I fell in love with it blindly: in fact in practice this Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is one of those products that, if you are a little nerd like me, you love without asking too many questions. With the story of the dual display I think it made me totally fall in love, but also the rest as the primary OLED screen at 120Hz, and its design that does not hint at a slightest bending (a feature that in recent years I have only noticed in the Macbook, and very few other laptops) do not go unnoticed.
What is certain is that the price is important: in Italy the version like mine with i9 and RTX3050Ti is not on sale, but rather with i7-12700H and Intel Iris Xe graphics, and it has a price of 2169,00€. Yes, the price is high but there is everything: for creators who edit videos very often or for DJs who create music and so on, it is a complete product that, with its second screen, will open up a way to work and a whole world. new. What didn't convince me? Definitely the battery, and the temperatures a little out of control.