Hands-On With the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo Laptop

We first laid our eyes and hands on the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo back in May at Computex 2019, and the device hasn’t lost its innovative edge in the time since. Immediately distinguishing this laptop from the majority of its peers is dual-screen technology, equating to two separate displays. Occupying the main section (i.e. where a laptop screen is normally located) is a 15.6″ frameless 4K OLED display with High Dynamic Range and ASUS NanoEdge. Just below that is a second, ultrawide 4K display, which can either work in conjunction with the main screen or perform its own separate range of functions. For any multi-taskers out there, this one has your name written all over it.

It’s once you get the hang of using both screens at the same time that this device really springs to life. Back in May, ASUS provided a demonstration by using the Pro Duo to make online travel arrangements. In that scenario, the main display brought up a booking site while the bottom display coordinated each action with Google Maps and a Calendar app. At the same event, the brand highlighted the laptop’s potential for game streamers. On the main screen was the game itself while the Twitch stream and Discord chat appeared on the lower screen.

As we’ve recently discovered, booking travel or streaming games are but two among a variety of ways to use the dual-screen function. For example, you can play videos on the lower screen while browsing or performing work-related tasks on the main display. Or if you have Adobe Lightroom software running on the main screen, you can employ the lower screen as a separate control bar. You can also use the glass trackpad to seamlessly drag apps from the main display onto the lower screen, so as to organise your various tasks and functions. Or you can click and hold the page header to choose among a selection of display options. Throw in the fact that both displays double as touchscreens (with pen compatibility) and there’s something kind of magical about the whole thing.

Regardless of its innovative dual-screen technology, the laptop represents an impressive feat of design and performance. Bolstered by the latest 9th Generation Intel Core i9 HK series processor and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, it also features NVidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, 1 TB SSD, and 32GB of RAM. The keyboard is tight and adept while the trackpad doubles as a number pad at the touch of a button. That’s not to mention the brand’s signature ErgoHinge, which tilts the device at a comfortable angle for typing and provides additional ventilation for the cooling fans. Meanwhile, the ports, plugs, jack, and speakers are arranged on either side of the laptop to sheer perfection.

Of course, with great power comes a fair amount of physical heft. As such, the ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo is quite heavy to travel with. For some, the laptop’s weightiness might contradict its very essence as a portable device. Others, however, will have no problem looking past its weight to focus moreover on the full spread of functions and features. At the end of the day, the high-resolution graphics, powerful performance, and dual-screen technology are worth the extra heft, though this isn’t exactly the kind of device that you want to cart around town.

With both screens taking up so much real estate, some might wonder: is there really enough room left over for the keyboard and trackpad? It’s a tough question to address, as the answer can vary from one user to the next. We’d be lying if we said that the keyboard and trackpad aren’t slightly “crunched in,” so you might feel the squeeze if you’re a heavy keyboard user, in particular. On the other hand, designers, gamers, and content creators might barely notice the keyboard as they make full use of the extra screen space and touchscreen technology. In fact, as displays continue to improve, there might come a time when the keyboard and trackpad are mere afterthoughts.

Speaking of things to come, ASUS is hailing its latest Zenbook as a glimpse of the future. There is indeed something futuristic about the dual displays, both of which are completely smooth and glare-free. And while the main screen delivers a superior resolution, the lower screen is certainly no slouch when it comes to image and video quality. Whether working in harmony or doing their own thing at the same time, they do make for a trailblazing pair.

When we first tinkered with the ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo back in May, we saw its potential as an uncompromising productivity booster. Now that we’ve had one around the office, we can easily back up that claim. Between its powerful performance, ergonomic design, and innovative technology, the laptop will heighten pretty much any professional or even casual environment. Here’s looking forward to future models and whatever improvements they may bring.

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