PC & Hardware

ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review: Ahead of its time

The UX481F is definitely ahead of its time. Even though there are a few imperfections, we need to consider that this is a first-gen product and will get better in its future iterations.

The ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481F is an ultraportable version of if its big brother, The Zenbook Pro Duo. Both the ZenBook Pro Duo and ZenBook Duo were launched together late 2019 and both are solid attempts proving how useful secondary screens can be in a notebook

With two display screens, great specifications and a compact design that could potentially make it the ideal choice for those who want to get serious work done on the move, The Asus ZenBook Duo is an unusual laptop compared to what is normally available in Dubai. In this review, we find out why.

Specifications

CPU10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processor 10510U @1.80GHz (Turbo Boost upto 4.90 GHz)
RAM16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
GPUNVIDIA® GeForce® MX250
Video memory: 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
Storage1TB PCIe® Gen3 x4
DisplayMain Display
14” LED-backlit Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 slim-bezel NanoEdge display
Four-sided frameless NanoEdge design with 90% screen-to-body ratio
3.5mm-thin bezel
IPS-level wide-view technology

ScreenPad Plus
12.6” touch display
IPS-level wide-view technology
Ports1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (up to 10Gbps)
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A (up to 10Gbps)
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (up to 5Gbps)
1 x HDMI
1 x Audio combo jack
1 x MicroSD card reader
1 x DC-in
ConnectivityIntel Wi-Fi 6 with Gig+ performance (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.0
CameraIR webcam with Windows Hello support
AudioASUS SonicMaster stereo audio system with surround-sound
Array microphone with Cortana and Alexa voice-recognition support
3.5mm headphone jack
Certified by Harman Kardon
Battery70Wh 4-cell lithium-polymer battery
65W power adapter

The model we received for this review is the ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F-BM021TS.

Packaging

The ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481F arrives in a nice black box with a plastic carrying handle. Inside the box, there’s the ZenBook Duo UX481 itself, 65W power adapter and manuals.

Packaging | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

Design & Build Quality

The notebook is aesthetically pleasing overall and retains the iconic ZenBook concentric circle design on the lid and comes in a shade of what Asus calls ‘Celestial Blue’.

When opening the lid, the signature ErgoLift hinges lifts the laptop above the surface resulting in a 5.5-degree tilt. This helps with heat dissipation, a more comfortable typing experience as the keyboard is tilted and improves the audio performance.

ASUS Zenbook Review Dubai
ErgoLift | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

The ZenBook Duo UX481F has excellent build quality with most of the body and chassis in aluminium. The lid itself is very sturdy and has no wobbling even while typing at full tilt.

Weighing at about 1.5kg, this is somewhat a thick laptop at 1.99cm (0.78 inches). But considering the amount of tech inside, it’s understandable.

Ports

There are no connections on the back side, all ports are on the right and left sides of the notebook. ZenBook Duo UX481F comes with quite a good number of ports.

On the left side you can find a connector to connect power adaptor, video output HDMI and two USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-C and Type-A).

ASUS Zenbook Review Dubai
Ports on the left side | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

On the right is the power led and battery indicator, a slot for MicroSD card, headphones jack and USB 3.1 Gen1.

Ports on the right side | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

At either side are a series of tiny holes for the side-firing Harman Kardon tuned stereo speakers

Display

The display lid is equipped with the infrared camera with a resolution of 720p and biometric face recognition supported by Windows Hello.

The main 14-inch 1080p IPS matte display looks fantastic; with bright, beautiful colors and plenty of brightness for working outside. The display also has really thin 3.5mm bezels, a 90% screen-to-body ratio and wide 178° viewing angles.

ASUS Zenbook UX481 Review
Dual Displays | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

Below the the main display, there’s the ScreenPad Plus, measuring in at 12.6-inches diagonally and 3-inches tall.

ScreenPad Plus Display

As an extension to the main display, on the top half of the lower deck you will find The ScreenPad Plus, a secondary display to interact with content or applications.

The ScreenPad Plus is a 12″ IPS panel with a resolution of 1920 × 515 pixel and offers the same 178° viewing angles as the main display. The ScreenPad Plus also looks equally good as the main display.

ASUS Zenbook UX481 Review
ScreenPad Plus | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

You can also split ScreenPad Plus into halves – so you can have one app window on the left half and the other on the right. The ScreenPad Plus is useful for a number of scenarios, and it worked great during the short period of time we had to review it, such as:

  • YouTubing while working on the main screen
  • Using messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger etc.
  • Notes or other information for reference
  • Moving apps from one screen to the other for later

Once you discover the features, functions and the shortcuts apps the ScreenPad Plus panel has to offer, it becomes a lot easier with multi-tasking – you can make it into shortcut bay for apps or even secondary toolbox holder for your photo and editing apps.

Keyboard & Trackpad

As the ScreenPad Plus panel makes up most of the upper section of the notebook’s base, there’s barely any space left for palm rests. ASUS has crammed the keyboard into the base of the notebook with the touchpad and two physical buttons designed into the right corner. This setup can take some time getting used to.

Keyboard & Trackpad | ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai

While it feels good to type and has great solid feedback, I often missed hitting the right keys while typing. The keyboard is backlit and the keys are membrane-sized 15x15mm, with the first row of keys smaller in size. There are also various function keys, keys to activate & deactivate ScreenPad Plus and a key to move a window to the smaller screen.

Using the trackpad also takes some getting used to due to its unusual placement, however the accuracy is great.

We hope in the future versions, ZenBook Duo UX481F introduces a full sized keyboard and includes an external mouse for maximum productivity.

Performance

The Asus ZenBook Duo UX481F we tested has a 10th gen Intel Core i7-10510U processor paired with an NVIDIA GeForce MX250, 16GB 2133Mhz DDR3 RAM and a 1TB PCIe solid state drive. The notebook ran quiet even when using demanding apps, keeping temperatures well under control.

While the MX250 can handle demanding tasks, apps, photo and video-editing (Lightroom, Photoshop, Adobe Premiere); it’s a mid-range notebook card and therefore can only play games on low or medium graphics settings. We found Fortnite to be playable in Full HD resolution on low settings with an average FPS of 30-40.

Battery

The ZenBook Duo UX481F comes with a beefy 70Wh 4-cell lithium-polymer battery. On paper, it’s rated for 22 hours of battery life with the ScreenPad Plus off and about 15 hours if you’re using both.

During the short time we had to review it, ZenBook Duo UX481F lasted for about 10 hours of usage on battery, which included watching videos, some photo-editing, typing, web browsing, all with the ScreenPad Plus turned on.

Summary

With an exceptional battery life, The ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481F is one of the first dual-screen notebooks to be launched in the Middle East. The ZenBook Duo perfectly handled all the tasks I threw at it without any issues and the 16GB of RAM definitely helped running dozens of apps and browser tabs while having also apps on the secondary ScreenPad Plus Display.

The UX481F is definitely ahead of its time. Even though there are a few imperfections, we need to consider that this is a first-gen product and will get better in its future iterations.

ASUS Zenbook UX481 Review
ASUS Zenbook Duo UX481F Review Dubai
8.6

ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481F

While this may not be the ideal notebook for the general consumer, The ZenBook Pro Duo will be useful for programmers, heavy multitaskers, designers and content creators who need more screen real estate and it might also be the most practical, affordable, dual-screen option available in the market today.

THE GOOD
  • Beautiful dual-screens that work well
  • Fast performance
  • Lot of ports
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent build quality & premium design
THE BAD
  • Keyboard and trackpad can take some take time getting used to + no palm rests
  • Left-handed users will find the keyboard & trackpad layout tough to use
  • Hard to use on the lap
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