Asus ZenBook 14X OLED overview: A cool however impractical laptop computer

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Zenbooks of this dimension are all usually the same deal—for those who’ve used one, you’ve got used all of them. Two traits try to make the ZenBook 14X OLED distinctive, slated for launch in early 2022. The primary is its OLED show, one of many first 90Hz OLED panels to enter mass manufacturing. (Asus’s VivoBook Professional 14 OLED, which I reviewed earlier, is second.) One other is that the touchpad can also be a display screen. As such, it is actually a tiny touchscreen. You may put home windows down and navigate them similar to you’d with some other touchscreen system.

Slight spoiler: Each of those options are cool, however not as quiet as they sound, particularly contemplating their influence on battery life. Finally, if the ZenBook is a package deal you are focused on, you are higher off going for the VivoBook Professional 14 OLED, which has the identical OLED display screen with an eight-core processor and a greater GPU for just a few hundred {dollars} cheaper. The ZenBook’s target market is actually individuals who need one thing completely different than traditional and are keen to pay for it.

To start out with the OLED display screen—it is neat. It is 16:10, it is 2880 x 1800, and it is a step up within the visible expertise from the usual 1920 x 1200 panel. Colours are vivid, and black, a trademark of OLED expertise, could be very, very darkish. It makes the textual content a bit of extra partaking, which is enjoyable for me as somebody who reads and writes all day. It almost maxes out our colorimeter, overlaying one hundred pc of the sRGB gamut, 99 % of Adobe RGB and one hundred pc of the P3, and reaches 395 nits of brightness. There’s some glare in a vivid workplace setting, however nothing that interferes with work.

The 90Hz refresh price is nice sufficient – scrolling is noticeably smoother – however, once more, I am undecided it is definitely worth the battery life influence. (Extra on that in a bit).

The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED is angled to the left on a wooden table.  The screen displays a multicolored background with the Asus Zenbook OLED logo.  Touchpad Displays the ScreenPad homepage.

Lovely shade scheme.
Photograph by Amelia Holovaty Crales/The Verge

Second, the touchscreen touchpad. It is the identical concept as Asus’s ZenBook Duo, Zephyrus Duo 15, and varied different dual-screen laptops the corporate has tried. The touchpad primarily features as a small exterior show – you may drag home windows backwards and forwards between it and the first panel.

When you have no home windows open on the touchpad and you are not truly utilizing it as a touchpad, it is primarily a secondary desktop with a grid of apps and shortcuts. Most helpful, to me, is the Teams button, which lets you “seize” any group of tabs and apps you might have open on the time and drag them again up later. You may pull up a quantity pad and a calculator (which you too can do on the VivoBook’s screenless touchpad, although it does not really feel as good). There are shortcuts to open Voice Recorder, Solitaire, and the like on the first display screen (and you may add your personal apps and webpages of selection). There is a handwriting app – scribble on it, and wherever your cursor is, phrases will seem as textual content (e mail, Slack message, no matter).

The expertise is nice, and Asus has executed a superb job of constructing its interface enticing and straightforward to make use of. I will additionally admit that I nonetheless have not actually discovered a use case for this. For some time, I attempted sticking Slack or Twitter in there to see each time I labored. However neither was usable on such a small display screen. This touchpad is identical dimension as many smartphones, however the apps and webpages you employ in your smartphone are designed for navigating on a smaller display screen—the apps on the ZenBook aren’t. The textual content was small, and clicking was clumsy (and I’ve small fingers).

The handwriting app is actually spectacular, and the system interpreted my horrible handwriting completely. That stated, it is best to perceive that this can be a text-recognition app, not a full-fledged note-taking app—you may’t draw photos or diagrams and anticipate the ZenBook to breed them. (And it could not acknowledge the Chinese language and Korean characters I typed, at the very least not with my language set to English.) As a pure handwriting-recognition instrument, it is enjoyable, however it principally sounds enjoyable. – I am undecided their job truly requires one thing like this (and people who do can get a tremendous Wacom pill for lower than $100).

As I discussed earlier, essentially the most compelling element of a touchscreen touchpad to me is the grouping characteristic, particularly because the numpad and calculator features can be found in different Asus laptops. However I do not suppose it is definitely worth the premium of a number of hundred {dollars} over the VivoBook.

It additionally appeared a bit complicated to my out of doors show – the home windows I introduced in had been typically too massive by default and wanted to be resized manually. I am guessing that the ZenBook is treating the touchpad as an extension of the first display screen (somewhat than a secondary display screen), and that it is sizing off of it by some means. Regardless, it is not a catastrophe, however I hope Asus can determine it out earlier than this ships.

Ports on the left side of the ZenBook 14X OLED.

On the left is the lone USB 3.2 Gen 2 Sort-A.

Ports on the left side of the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED.

All the opposite ports are on the fitting (two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, one HDMI 2.0, one microSD reader, one audio combo jack).

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Touchpad Displays Screenpad Homepage.

Search for ScreenPad operating ScreenXpert 2.

Elsewhere, it is the ZenBook through and through. It is a good wanting system with a pleasant shiny lid which you can simply open with one hand and with out transferring the display screen. One caveat usually in regards to the ZenBooks is that the lids are fingerprint magnets—my unit was continually smeared. The construct is a bit plasticy—the display screen and keyboard have a small quantity of flex, and I seen a small dent within the backside of the deck after banging the system round in my complete backpack for just a few days—however a step above price range The bait is a darkish grey futuristic-y end. It’s 0.67 inches (16.9 mm) thick and weighs simply over three kilos (1.4 kg) – not a feather however transportable sufficient.

Like many Asus laptops, this ZenBook has an ErgoLift hinge—the lid folds underneath the deck and raises the keyboard just a few levels, conveniently hiding a few of the backside bezel. It is alleged to make typing extra ergonomic and assist with cooling, however it was additionally a bit of too quick on my lap.

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Webcam.

That is an HD digicam, and it is rather small.

There are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Sort-A, an HDMI 2.0, a microSD reader, and an audio jack. It is a good combine, although I want each USB-C ports weren’t on the fitting. Harmon Kardon’s audio system sound tremendous, however I do not get fairly as a lot quantity as I might like—I generally need to lean too far ahead to listen to my Zoom calls. The keyboard is comfy with good journey, and the ability button has a fingerprint sensor so I did not thoughts.

One final thing to concentrate on: the webcam isn’t any good. Colours are correct, however it’s grainy and a bit of blurry at occasions – my editor stated it seemed like somebody had utilized Vaseline to it throughout a Zoom name. I do sufficient video requires work now that this is able to be a priority for me. I additionally admire the bodily shutter (which it does not have, although there is a kill swap on the keyboard) the extra I hear about embarrassing zoom occasions.

The ZenBook 14X OLED touchpad displaying the ScreenPad homepage.

You hit that little button within the decrease left nook to show the ScreenPad into an everyday navigable touchpad.

Along with the Nvidia GeForce MX450 discrete GPU, there is a Core i7-1165G7 inside, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage. Samsung and Asus priced me $1,400 for this unit, however warned that pricing may change nearer to launch. If it does, I will replace this overview.

These specs, to place it bluntly, confuse me. The MX450 is a really entry-level GPU that I additionally would not suggest for esports gaming. (Neglect hitting 90 frames per second in fashionable video games with it.) Even 16GB of RAM (essentially the most you may get on this system) will not be sufficient for a lot of skilled workloads. I am glad to see 1TB of storage at this worth, however I nonetheless cannot see it being a superb possibility for execs or avid gamers — it is nonetheless primarily anticipated to be a multimedia machine for individuals who favor OLED screens and smoother options. I really like scrolling. , For these folks, a ZenBook is 14x e-waste – the VivoBook provides the identical display screen with an RTX 3050 for (reportedly) $200 cheaper.

Past that, the ZenBook did a good job with my every day workload, even with the battery saver in silent fan profile (referred to as “Whisper Mode” in Asus’ Management Heart). It was generally sizzling however by no means sizzling, and I normally did not hear any fan noise.

However there is a massive tradeoff to this: battery life. I am certain the longevity of the VivoBook is not helped by the truth that it is working a 90Hz high-resolution panel and Too Taking part in secondary display screen. Nonetheless, this ZenBook does not final lengthy sufficient. I averaged simply 5 hours and 38 minutes of steady workplace use with this system with about 200 nits of brightness. It beats the Dell XPS 13 OLED a bit, however it falls in need of all method of high-resolution gadgets like Huawei’s MateBook 16 or Apple’s M1-equipped laptops. This implies I could not go a workday with out the system plugged in. For most individuals (however particularly these searching for a 14-inch system), battery life goes to be extra helpful than that of the MX450 and the touchscreen touchpad.

My remaining be aware is on bloatware. The instrument shipped with an enormous load of annoying software program pre-installed, together with a number of McAfee packages that insisted on scanning the whole lot I downloaded earlier than I may even open it. , and for this I’ve to shut all my chrome tabs and restart the pc for the uninstallation to occur. These things should not be on a laptop computer that prices $1,400 – it should not.

The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED sits on a wooden table with the right side half open.

Boo, bloatware.

The ZenBook 14X OLED is a reasonably inexpensive technique to pair a 90Hz OLED display screen with a GPU. Regardless of the assorted nitpicks I’ve, it really works fairly nicely as a driver. The issue is that there exists one other laptop computer – the VivoBook Professional 14 OLED, with a really related chassis, a really related display screen and a greater GPU – at a considerably lower cost. I am actually questioning if Asus and Samsung have crossed strings right here as a result of it does not imply the ZenBook prices that a lot, so I will keep watch over any adjustments as we get nearer to launch.

The principle factor that might doubtlessly justify the ZenBook’s worth premium is its fancy touchpad. I actually like that Asus is doing this touchpad. I really like that there is a firm on the market that is attempting issues like this which are new and completely different – and people issues actually work. I can not let you know how refreshing it’s, whose job it’s to check one million laptops every week, that are principally the identical factor, solely to know that there is a firm on the market looking for out. It’s that they will do issues otherwise. ,

I actually, actually hope that there’s a group of individuals on the market who use this touchpad proper of their lives and who will exit of their technique to pay further for this ZenBook as a result of it is the primary laptop computer ever made. Absolutely fits their wants. I am not on this group, and I doubt it exists, however god, I hope it does.

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