When you have your nose plunged into screens all day at your workplace, it is often a matter of desktop PCs equipped with several screens allowing you to juggle from one to another or to take advantage of screen sizes. generous. When teleworking is essential, we sometimes find ourselves at home with an undersized screen on your backup laptop with more difficult tasks to accomplish than with your usual work tool.
In 2019 Asus had the good idea to offer a dual-screen computer to make it easier for creatives on the move or in tight spaces, without knowing that the health situation would make this type of machine rather precious. The CES 2021 was the occasion for the manufacturer to unveil its new models including the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582, evolution of the model UX581 that we tested last year, as well as the ZenBook Duo 14 UX482, its 14-inch little brother.
We had the opportunity to test the latter. Out of the box, nothing distinguishes it from a classic PC, it comes with its USB-C Power Delivery charger and a rather welcome carrying case, given that the coating easily marks.
Under the device there is a small air inlet in the middle for cooling and two grilles on the side for the speakers, Harman / Kardon took care of the audio part.
On the left is an HDMI 1.4 output which will allow you to connect an external screen, a task that the two Thunderbolt 4 ports could as well perform which can be used as a power input or for any other task thanks to the capacities that are available to them. know.
On the right side, a classic USB 3.2 port offers the possibility of connecting a more classic peripheral, there is also an audio jack port and a MicroSD card reader.
The set remains light enough for a dual touchscreen laptop, less than 1.6kg and quite thin at just 16.9mm. In hand, before opening, one could easily think that we are dealing with a quite classic ultra-portable. But this is not the case. He received the Intel Evo certification which guarantees that we are in the presence of a laptop PC offering several qualities related to power and mobility.
Asus Screenspad Plus
When we deploy the computer we discover the 14-inch screen which has a frame-to-screen ratio of 93% and a second screen, the Screenspad Plus, of 12.6 inches which is mechanically oriented 7 degrees towards the screen. user for natural use.
Of course, this cuts off the keyboard and trackpad. You quickly get used to the layout of the keyboard which remains pleasant to use by finding the right posture. It takes a little more time for the trackpad that we would gladly change for a wireless mouse, but it is also possible to configure the Screenpad Plus to act as a giant trackpad.
The second screen is intriguing but Asus guides the user to get started by explaining how to tame it, for example by using it as a numeric keypad. The 2 screens are independent while being intimately linked. If the mouse navigates from one to the other without stopping, it is possible to adjust the brightness of each screen. The main one via keyboard shortcuts, the secondary one thanks to the touch-sensitive control center on the left which allows you to make numerous adjustments or to deactivate the keyboard to work without having to raise your wrist.
The Screenpad Plus will be of particular interest to users of long web pages or specialized software, particularly office software, for example to read long Excel files at the height of the 2 screens:
Or, on the contrary, to be able to separate the two screens in order to have the software tools off-center. For example, you can use the handwriting tool on the bottom screen so that it is integrated into a text editor open on the main screen. Asus has also integrated a control panel that works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Adobe Premiere and After Effects software. It is up to the user to choose his action palette, the panel being fully customizable. A real plus for creators.
In addition to the device, its charger and its cover, there are two accessories in the packaging box. The first is a stylus which is logically complementary with the Screenpad +. Its use is pleasant, no need to apply excessive pressure. Even a few millimeters from the screen, without direct contact, the stylus is recognized. Each type of user will use it as he wishes, drawing or writing. For example, it is possible to write on the Screenpad with the stylus and see the words transcribed on a document in a text editor on the main screen.
Another useful accessory depending on the expected comfort, habits or uses, a folding support can be attached under the device to obtain an additional inclination.
Image Josh Goldman / CNET
A comfortable configuration and autonomy
The model that we were able to take in hand is not the one that receives the best configuration but it is already very solid with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 32 GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, it does not lacks the dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX450 graphics card that we will find as an option on some models.
- Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7
- Display: 14 inch LED FHD 1920×1080 pixels, 400 nits
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics or NVIDIA GeForce MX450
- RAM: Up to 32 GB
- Storage: SSD up to 1TB
- Wireless: Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Webcam: HD infrared compatible Windows Hello
The benchmarks are in line with what one would expect from such a configuration. With 2277 points under Novabench, 5220 under Geekbench at the processor level and 19073 concerning the GPU, it does as well as the Dell XPS 13 version 2021. Scores which could be revised upwards on models equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce MX450 graphics card (200 euros more).
In terms of autonomy, it is difficult to assess a computer that offers two screens against the competition that is necessarily favored. This time our Netflix streaming test connected to Wifi with 50% brightness and 40% audio volume took place in two stages. With the main screen alone, the Screenpad disabled, our machine lasted 12 hours, which is far from being a bad result and allows us to consider mobile use for classic tasks. Rather, count 9 to 10 hours with the Screenpad on for this type of use. Of course, with authoring software tools, the autonomy will be less important.
The creatives who have specific needs or who use programs with moderate gluttony will be satisfied with the version without a dedicated card, others will turn to the most complete version. For the more demanding there is a much more expensive Pro version coming in the second quarter of 2021 in 15 inches and equipped with RTX 3070 cards, but the price will not be the same.
Alternatives without dual screens can be found in gamer models. In 14 inches, with a need for additional graphics power, we can look at the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming PC which can embed an RTX2060 card (beware of more modest versions of the price table which include inferior cards). If you’re just interested in CPU power and for a softer budget, the AMD Matebook 14 might be a good option.
In the end, this edition of the Zenbook Duo stamped UX482 is very pleasant even if we note this problem related to the little space left for the keyboard, and especially the trackpad. A defect that is solved simply by using a mouse or by playing with the second screen which can act as a giant touchpad or a numeric keypad. This allowed this 14 inch to maintain a size suitable for mobility. The presence of a large screen weighs overall but the 1.6 kg remains quite reasonable.
Performance and autonomy are also very good, especially when the Screenpad plus is not in use. And when it is in use it offers a nice solution to those who see an interest in using these two screens to have an eye on several tasks simultaneously, or better, who use the Adobe authoring tools compatible with the control panel. If you are one of those, you shouldn’t be disappointed with your purchase.