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I used a two-screen Windows laptop but found it hard to live in the future


Asus Zenbook Duo OLED review

Asus Zenbook Duo OLED review (Image: Asus)

What we love

  • Remarkable two-screen design
  • Excellent bright displays
  • Superb performance and specs
  • Decent port selection
  • Included stylus

What we don’t

  • It’s a bit extra
  • Mediocre battery life all round
  • Thick and heavy
  • Colours different between displays
  • No way to store included stylus

I’ve been using a laptop with two screens. Not two laptops next to each other, or a laptop attached to an external monitor. The Asus Zenbook Duo looks like a regular laptop, but lift off the optionally wireless keyboard and you’re greeted to a second 14-inch OLED display that’s attached by a hinge to the main one.

With a kickstand on the bottom of the unit you can open the device and have two large screens in front of you, one on top of the other. For a first-generation product, I have been remarkably impressed with just how good this hardware feels, but I haven’t been able to shake my initial question. Who asked for this?

The existence of a double screen laptop feels to me quite similar to the existence of foldable phones. The technology finally exists to make something happen, but no one is asking for it, and it doesn’t necessarily solve a problem or complaint most people have about their devices. Sure, many people like to use a monitor with their laptop, but how many times have you thought, wow, my laptop could really do with another identically sized screen stacked on top of this one?

I have been remarkably impressed with just how good this hardware feels, but I haven’t been able to shake my initial question. Who asked for this?

Existential thoughts on computing aside, the Zenbook Duo is a well-built, fun to use computer with a couple of nagging flaws. The main one is battery life, and the other is its size and weight. But I’ve also got used to whipping out this odd double-take device, and surprisingly few people in my office asked me what it was, or even noticed. I think that’d be different if I fired up the Duo on a plane’s tray table, but I haven’t had the opportunity.

For working at 30,000ft, or simply away from a wall socket, the Duo has predictably bad battery life – after all, the cell is powereing two large, bright OLED displays. It basically lasts for four hours of constant use before Windows 11 is begging you for some juice with pop ups and switching to a power saving mode.

Asus Zenbook Duo OLED

One of many ways to use this intriguing computer (Image: Asus)

You can use the Zenbook Duo as a regular laptop as the thin removable keyboard layer clacks satisfyingly magnetically over the bottom screen, complete with backlight – but where’s the fun in that? When you remove it, Windows quickly realises and switches to dual screen mode in a way that never felt clunky or buggy.

The keyboard, which charges when it’s attached to the screen, then automatically connects as a wireless keyboard. It’s very flat, so a little hard to type on at first but I got used to it. If you use the backlight on the keys, the battery dies frustratingly quick, but keep it off and it goes for hours (you can also charge it via its USB-C port).

As well as two stacked landscape screens you can also balance them portrait way up, or completely flat on a surface in a model that will appeal to artists. There’s an included Asus pen stylus in the box that works well in illustrator and creative apps (though it’s annoying there’s nowhere to store it on or in the laptop).

Asus Zenbook Duo OLED

Lay the laptop flat in ‘sharing mode’, as Asus calls it (Image: Asus)

With two screens in a unit that fit easily into the laptop sleeve in my bag, you suddenly have more room to multitask. Windows is great for this, and as a writer I can have a Google Doc open on one screen and a reference document or transcript on another. For my lunch breaks, I can call up a news site with YouTube getting a whole display to itself. With Windows split screen mode you can feasibly get three or four things running, and with the powerful Intel Core Ultra 9 185H processor in my loan device paired with a generous 32GB RAM, the machine doesn’t miss a beat. It’s one of the best performing laptops I’ve ever used, which I didn’t expect when the system has to power two screens as well.

This Core Ultra chip also has enough oomph to power Microsoft Copilot, the PC firm’s new AI chatbot that is built into Windows 11. The Zenbook Duo is more than powerful enough to cope with its demands on processing power, even if I still currently find it pointless and depressing to use.

The added thickness in the base of the laptop is necessary to house the second display, but that girth allows for a USB-A and HDMI port alongside the two USB-C and a headphone jack, which is great to see on a high end PC – many now eschew any legacy ports, but I would have liked to have seen an SD card reader too.

It’s one of the best performing laptops I’ve ever used, which I didn’t expect when the system has to power two screens as well.

A downside along with the battery life and added weight (1.35kg to be precise) is that the colour calibration is different between the two screens out of the box. It’s not a deal breaker, but if you want colour accuracy for any reason for work, it’s off putting to move windows from one screen to the other and have them change tone. That said, both screens are very high quality 3K panels with 120Hz refresh rates for smooth scrolling – battery life improves a little if you turn off the higher rate.

If money were no object, I’m still not sure I would splash out at least £1,699.99 for the Asus Zenbook Duo OLED, to give it its full product name. The version I tested would set you back £1,999.99, and though you’d get a very capable machine, I’d be inclined to spend half as much on a MacBook Air. For what I do, I’d prefer half the number of display for half the price with more than double the daily battery life.

I’m interested to test out the new generation of Windows laptops powered by Snapdragon X Elite chips, which promise performance and battery life to rival the industry-leading MacBooks. As for the Zenbook Duo, it definitely feels like a polished product considering it’s pretty much a first go from Asus, but I’ll wait for the price to come down and the battery life to improve before I recommend anything like it. The future will have to wait.

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