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Asus ZenBook pro duo 15 laptop review: Proof that two screens are better than one

Multitasking on this powerhouse is an absolute dream – but is it worth almost £3,000?

Rachael Phillips
Tuesday 28 September 2021 11:36
<p>While dual-screen laptops remain in the minority, Asus is absolutely dominating the sector</p>

While dual-screen laptops remain in the minority, Asus is absolutely dominating the sector

The ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582 is Asus’ latest dual-screen laptop to hit the market. Asus has made significant improvements upon previous models, including adding a bigger OLED 4K screen, a better processor, more RAM, and a new hinge design that fixes the placement of the second screen.

A dual-screen laptop has two screens built into a single chassis. They optimise screen space and take multitasking to a whole new level. Dual-screen laptops are perfect for those who want an all-encompassing workstation but with the freedom to work on the move.

But whilst dual-screen laptops have a massive appeal, they can also have some serious drawbacks, such as a smaller keyboard and a higher price tag. Plus, they can be difficult to use anywhere but on a desk.

Asus has been producing dual-screen laptops since 2019 when it launched the first generation of ZenBook duo and ZenBook duo pro. And while dual-screen laptops remain in the minority, Asus is absolutely dominating the sector. However, brands such as Lenovo and HP are starting to understand the desire for dual screens and taking tentative steps to produce their own models, such as the Lenovo ThinkBook plus and HP omen 2xs.

The ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582 is an expensive machine coming in at around £2,999. Still, you do get a lot of computing power for your money. Asus knows its market with this machine. The combination of price, power and features means it’s best suited to creatives, content creators and professionals who want a machine with plenty of screen space and a plethora of built-in tools. Read on to see what we thought of the ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582 and whether the second screen is just a gimmick or a taste of the future.

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How we tested

We had a lot of fun with this machine, we used it for the whole week as our main computer. So that meant plenty of articles being written, lots of video and photo editing, and of course some serious screen time catching up with our favourite movies and shows on Netflix. We looked at all aspects of this machine, from its battery life to its ability to handle complex workflow.

Asus ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582: £2,999.99, Johnlewis.com

  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4 
  • Screen: 15.6in with a 14in secondary screen
  • Storage: 1 TB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Pros: Second display, stunning OLED screen, 32GB of RAM 
  • Cons: Very heavy, terrible battery life
  • Rating: 8/10

There are currently two models of ZenBook pro duo on the market – the 14 and the 15. For this review, we tested the ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582. This model has a 10th generation Intel Core i9 processor, 1TB of SSD storage space, 32GB of RAM and a primary 15.6in 4K OLED panel alongside a second 14in OLED screen known as the “ScreenPad plus”.

Design

Asus calls the ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582 “the laptop of tomorrow", and we can see why. This is a futuristic laptop from the outside in. The outer is made using a magnesium alloy, which comes in a celestial blue.

The edges are angled, which not only looks smart but accommodates the ErgoLift active aerodynamic system hinge, which adds a 3-degree tilt to the lower chassis for a more comfortable typing experience and promotes better airflow.

It’s probably wiser to think of this machine as more of a portable desktop than an ultra-light notebook, as this laptop is neither lightweight nor ultra-portable. At its thinnest point, it measures 21.5mm and weighs 2.4kg, making it bigger and heavier than most 15in laptops.

There are plenty of ports to choose from with the ZenBook pro duo 15 too – it has two USB-C ports which support Thunderbolt 3 speeds, a USB-A, a full HDMI and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s no MicroSD card slot which is a disappointment since this machine is aimed towards creatives. Wireless connectivity is good with support for Wi-Fi6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

One design feature that significantly improves upon previous models is the ErgoLift hinge, which tilts the keyboard and ScreenPad plus when the lid is opened. Previously the second screen lay flat, making it difficult to see and use. The new hinge mechanism means that typing, drawing and note-taking are now more ergonomically friendly. The whole design just flows better.

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The keyboard is backlit and has plenty of travel, but the keyboard feels cramped. That’s because of the side-by-side placement of the keyboard and trackpad, meaning you don’t get a full-sized keyboard. The second screen also eats into the keyboard space, and your wrists are automatically forced onto your desk when typing.

Asus has, however, included a wrist rest, so it does at least go some way into making typing on this machine a more comfortable experience. The trackpad also feels undersized. That said, it was smooth, responsive and doubled up as a virtual number pad.

Display

As you may have already gathered by this review so far, you’re not just getting one screen with the ZenBook pro duo 15, but two. The primary screen is a 15.6in with a 4k (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) OLED display. The ScreenPad plus is also 4K (3,840 x 1,110 pixels), 14in wide and located just above the keyboard.

The 15.6in screen is absolutely outstanding. The display is bright, colourful and has fantastic colour accuracy thanks to its Pantone verified colour space. Photographers, graphics designers, video editors and anyone who relies on accurate colours will all love this machine.

This screen does have a 60Hz refresh, but that doesn’t negatively affect how sharp the image quality is. The screen has a maximum brightness of 440 nits, so it’s great for working in brightly lit space without any glare. The screen really does look incredible, whether you’re watching videos, creating content or simply reading documents.

The ScreenPad plus uses an IPS panel that also looks vibrant, but it has a matte finish designed to reduce the glare, making the screen look duller than the main screen. Both the screens are touch-screen and support stylus input.

The ScreenPad plus is more than just a gimmick. Even just using it for a week makes us wonder how we will work without it. You can access all the functions for the ScreenPad plus via the ScreenXpert control centre menu on the left-hand side. This will give you access to the brightness settings, the app navigator, a button to lock or unlock the keyboard, access to the MyAsus app, and the ScreenPad plus apps.

ScreenPad plus apps include a handwriting app that converts your scribbles to text, a virtual number pad, a quick key function that will let you copy and paste easily, a Spotify control centre and a Multicam utility. There are more benefits to ScreenPad plus, depending on what compatible apps you use. Compatible apps include all the main Adobe programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere and After Effects.

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It’s also really great if you’re watching a YouTube tutorial and want to work alongside it or follow along with it. If you’re like us and don’t like your desktop too cluttered when you work, you can simply drag the window down to keep it active but out of your way.

Performance

The ZenBook pro duo 15 is a powerhouse of a laptop with its 8-core Comet Lake 10th generation Intel i9 processor with 32GB of RAM. It has a very generous 1TB of storage and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU which proved supreme when working on intense photo and video work. Throughout all tasks it was still speedy and we didn’t experience any slow down.

Everyday tasks such as producing documents, browsing the web and video calls were also a breeze. There was not one time when we felt this machine was laggy, even when we had multiple web-browsers with plenty of tabs open and a couple of apps running all at once.

Asus has a built-in performance tuning utility which you activate to boost performance. It uses a dedicated onboard microcontroller that tracks the temperature to get the best out of your CPU. This was a little flaky, and when in performance mode, the fans became very noisy without us noticing much of a difference in how it performed.

Read more: Huawei matebook X pro 2021 review: A stylish, powerful laptop

Speaking of fans, this is a machine that takes them very seriously. Two 71-blade fans are mounted on either side of the laptop, which blow the hot air out through the vents on the side. The introduction of the ErgoLift active aerodynamic system hinge also helps with the airflow circulation. Although, this laptop does get warm very fast, even with the fans on the go.

Battery life

There is no easy way of saying this, but the battery life on the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 is awful. Despite Asus increasing the battery by 29.5 per cent over the last generation of ZenBook Pro models, it still only managed a meagre three hours. We managed to get five hours when the second screen was turned off, but since that is the main attraction of this laptop, we don’t really see any point.

A G-sensor registers when the lid is at an 80-degree angle or less and kicks in to reduce the power to conserve the battery life, but it still falls very short of the mark.

Even with its OLED display, we can’t forgive how bad the battery life is with this model. It further strengthens our argument that this really is a laptop that hasn’t been designed to be used on the move.

Webcam and audio

Despite this being a high-end laptop, it still has an average 720p webcam which can look grainy and lack any fine detail. However, it does have IR sensors for face recognition, making logging into Windows 10 a lot easier. It also has a built-in microphone with Cortana and Alexa voice recognition.

Read more: 10 best high-end laptops for great performance with sleek design

The audio is pretty good for a laptop. The sound is rich and clear, and although it doesn’t get too loud, it’s certainly adequate for watching YouTube or listening to the radio in the background.

Software and features

The Asus ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582 ships with Windows 10 and will be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 11 when it’s released.

It also ships with an Asus stylus which is both precise and responsive. The pen, which has 4,096 pressure levels, feels very comfortable to handle and is perfect to use on both displays. Using the pen is really where you’ll notice how good the ScreenPad plus is as you can draw or write what you like on the second screen whilst your main content canvas remains on the main display.

The Zenbook is loaded with Asus software, which usually we would find intrusive. But, with this laptop, it’s actually a great addition. The apps include system diagnosis and battery health charging so you can stay on top of keeping your machine in excellent condition.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ is a premium Android tablet that outperforms the iPad pro

The ScreenPad plus can also be used as a larger trackpad. If you’re editing video or photographs, you can drag your settings down and leave the main screen free for your content.

The verdict: Asus ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582

It is impossible not to love the ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582. The stunning 4K OLED screen, dual-screen and powerful computing ability all make for an excellent machine.

But this laptop also has a terrible battery life and is incredibly heavy, which could mean that you’d be better off buying a desktop. In fact, this laptop is more suited to those who won’t be using it on the move because the battery life wouldn’t even last on a flight from the UK to Malta.

That said, it is a glimpse into the future. Dual-screen laptops are a brilliant idea, and they are a joy to work on. If you have the budget and use your machine when you’re in the office more than when you’re on the move, you’ll love this. If you need something lightweight and with a battery that will last you the whole day, you may want to look at the HP Spectre x360 or Galaxy book pro 360. Both machines still pack a powerful punch and remain ultra-portable.

Asus ZenBook pro duo 15 OLED UX582

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