What you need to know
- ASUS announced new dual-screen laptops.
- The ScreenPad Pro is a 4K touchscreen that doubles as a second screen.
- The ZenBook Duo comes in a 15.6" and 14" sizes.
- Core i9 and RTX 2060 graphics deliver a unique experience for gamers, creators.
Dual-screen laptops are becoming increasingly a thing, and ASUS has what it is calling "the laptop of tomorrow." While that may sound like hyperbole, there may be some truth to what is the most exciting and unique laptop so far at Computex 2019.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo adds a secondary display to the keyboard deck like Apple's Touch Bar, but it's an actual secondary LCD screen that is half the size of the 15.6-inch 4K OLED HDR screen that sits above it. While that may sound weird, it is infinitely more useful than Apple's iteration as users can stack three apps across while for reference while still working on the top main display.
The secondary LCD 4K (3,840 x 1,100) ScreenPad Plus supports touch and inking directly and with the included stylus users can use the screen to take notes while watching a video, play a virtual piano, or position advanced controls for Adobe apps for quick access. Users can also use it as one giant screen combining both displays for what is arguably one of the weirder, but fun experiences.
Touch responsiveness is surprisingly excellent. ASUS also built many tools to make the experience more natural to use including the ability to snap apps or move apps from the main display to the lower one with just a flick of the wrist versus dragging and dropping.
Powering it all is up to an Intel Core i9 eight-core CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU and PCIe x4 SSD storage with "Turbo Cooling" making this ideal for gamers, creators, or anyone who finds two screens more useful than one.
While the 15-inch ZenBook Pro Duo is a beastly laptop, those interested could also opt for the smaller and more practical ZenBook Duo sans "pro." The ZenBook Duo features a 14-inch full HD display with a secondary 12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus. Powering it is a saner Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce MX250 for graphics. By comparison, the ZenBook Duo is significantly lighter and nimbler than the larger and more powerful Pro version making it more useful for those who prefer Ultrabooks.
Analysis and breakdown
ScreenPad Plus: Gimmick or useful?
Adding a second screen to any laptop no doubt raises questions about usefulness and practicality, but most press in attendance seemed bullish on the idea after getting to use the laptops freely. ASUS did a great job at integrating the concept into Windows 10 versus just slapping a second screen into the chassis.
Since ASUS is keeping a full physical keyboard (with a touchpad on the right side, which also doubles as a number pad) concerns over touch-typing on a second screen go away. Indeed, the execution here seems like a half-way point compared to the more radical full dual-screen "Project Precog" concept PC revealed last year at Computex. That's a smart move as dropping a physical keyboard in a 15-inch laptop seems premature currently.
ASUS also had plenty of real-world demos on hand to show how creatives could use such a PC. Whether it's inking on the screen, stacking three apps side by side, watching a video, or even gaming (with the game on the main screen while streaming from the secondary) all of it seems quite useful.
Since the displays on the 15-inch version are 4K too, and both support touch there's no quality degradation or sacrifice, though it remains to be seen the hit on the battery that should be expected.
Overall, it's also nice to see companies like ASUS pushing the boundaries for PCs. The company seemingly has had luck with putting secondary displays into its Microsoft Precision trackpads. Indeed, those more conservative secondary trackpad displays are now expanding to ASUS's mid-range VivoBook line suggesting people are finding them useful.
ASUS seems to think dual displays are the future of PCs, but we'll have to wait and see how regular people feel about them, but so far, we're intrigued.
Double the fun
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo (UX581) not only includes a stellar second display, but it's chocked full of powerful specs as well. Content creators should find this laptop particularly interesting for its multitasking potential.
Affordable accessories that'll pair perfectly with your PC
Every one of these awesome PC accessories will enhance your everyday experience — and none cost more than $30.
KLIM Aim RGB gaming mouse ($30 at Amazon)
Whether you're a gamer or not, this is an absurdly good mouse for the price. It's ambidextrous, has a responsive sensor, a braided cable, tank-like build quality, and, yes, it has RGB lighting, though you can turn it off if that's not your thing.
AmazonBasics USB speakers ($16 at Amazon)
These neat little speakers may only pack 2.4W of total power, but don't let that fool you. For something so small you get a well-rounded sound and a stylish design. And they only cost $16.
Razer mouse bungee ($20 at Amazon)
Use a wired mouse? You need a mouse bungee to keep your cable tidy and free of snags. You get no drag on the cable, and this one has subtle styling, a rust-resistant spring and a weighted base, all for $20.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.