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ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 (UX482) First Impressions — the next level in content creation on the go
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ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 (UX482) First Impressions — the next level in content creation on the go

by Vyncent ChanMarch 12, 2021
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ASUS released the new and updated ASUS ZenBook Duo series, with the larger and more powerful ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 and the more portable ASUS ZenBook Duo 14. The duo offers content creators a choice of whether they want heavier, more powerful machine or a lighter more portable device that they can carry around easier. Today we will be checking out the latter in our first impressions of the machine. And I must say, it is truly quite impressive.

ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 Unboxing

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ASUS decided to change up their packaging again, with the charger crammed into the same box. It also comes with a nice soft sleeve that protects the laptop when you carry it around with you.

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There’s the laptop itself, some basic documentation, a foldable laptop stand that we will get into a bit later, the 65W USB-C power adapter and a stylus. Yes, a stylus now comes in the box of the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14, which is pretty neat to enhance the overall functionality of the laptop for digital artists from the get go. We do have a Taiwanese sample here, so the plug is not our local UK plug, but you should be getting a UK plug with the local sets.

Huge improvements from the ASUS ZenBook Duo (UX481)

A touch panel for its main display!

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ASUS did attempt to provide content creators with a more portable machine than their ZenBook Pro Duo, but it was gimped by a peculiar decision to not offer touch sensitivity on the primary display. That’s fixed with the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14, and its really nice to see ASUS even decide to use a matte finish to keep the main display free from smudges, which are inevitable when you use a touch screen. It also makes using it outdoors a bit easier, but it does take away a bit of the display panel’s “punch”, which can be a bummer.

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Above the display is a webcam and the IR facial recognition system, allowing for unlocks with just a glance. Considering the lack of a palm rest, this is literally a necessity on the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 to offer any form of biometric security.

Active Aerodynamic System Plus + ErgoLift

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Another highlight is the new ScreenPad Plus with a tilting mechanism. While the original ASUS ZenBook Duo had ErgoLift, the screen was flush with the keyboard, which didn’t exactly put it at a great angle. Now the tilt improves the visibility of the second display. I still think that the secondary display is quite a bit dimmer than the main one, which doesn’t allow for a truly seamless viewing experience, but at least it is better than what we had on the first generation.

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Aside from the improved angle, this tilt also opens up extra room for the fans to intake fresh air. ASUS claims that this allows the fans to draw in up to 49% more air, but we haven’t gotten to benchmarks and thermal testing, so that will have to wait. Considering that the ScreenPad Plus is lifted, and the keyboard is shifted downwards to the lower edge of the device, you won’t actually be able to feel how hot this laptop gets in use, unless you use it on your lap. Even then, the ErgoLift hinge should prevent the hottest parts of the bottom lid from touching you.

Now let’s take a look at the awesome mechanism that powers the whole ScreenPad Plus lifting and also the ErgoLift hinge. I think the latter needs no introduction, but the new ScreenPad Plus mechanism is definitely worth a look. It is different from the one in the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, streamlined to fit into a thinner design like the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14.

Included laptop stand in the box!

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We have a friend in the industry who goes around carrying an IKEA ISBERGET with him for a more ergonomic experience when writing on his laptop. We always laughed at him. So when ASUS told us they are bundling a laptop stand in the box, we were kinda curious as to how it will look. Fortunately, it is a lot sleeker, and folds out of the way when not in use. It raises the laptop even higher than the ErgoLift hinge can, affording an even better tilt for comfortable use.

Watch the below video to see the folding in action:

ASUS Control Panel

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Now one of the key highlights of the ASUS ZenBook Duo series this year is the release of the ASUS Control Panel feature to take full advantage of the ScreenPad Plus. It is very customizable and supports a few of the popular Adobe creativity apps. Content creators can take full advantage of it, but I do find that the dials do not feel “analog” enough, if you get what I mean.

It moves in steps instead of being more linear, which kinda sucks if you are a stickler. I mean, even when it comes to volume control, I am quite particular, so this is actually annoying to me. But I guess it definitely beats trying to zoom in by scrolling with the trackpad gestures, as that is just disgusting to use. I will definitely have to spend more time with it to see if I will get used to it and fall in love with it.

Conclusion

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ASUS’ rework of the ASUS ZenBook Duo family is really quite amazing. They not only improved on the hardware end of things with the new tilting ScreenPad Plus, but they also managed to add more functionality to the ScreenPad Plus so it can be used more efficiently by content creators. There are quite a lot of changes to this machine, but I will reserve the more in-depth look for my full review on the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14. Stay tuned!

About The Author
Vyncent Chan
Technology enthusiast, casual gamer, pharmacy graduate. Strongly opposes proprietary standards and always on the look out for incredible bang-for-buck.