Test Drive of the New Zenbook

I’m going to put it out there by saying I’m generally a “Mac guy”. I’ve been proudly part of the crowd of sheep that has the iPhone, watch, iPad and MacBook. So when I was offered some hands on with the new ASUS ZenBook Flip I was always going to be hard to impress.ZenBook Flip 14 UX461 Product small1A Slate Grey 05

It arrived and I was pretty happy with the look of it. The dark grey brushed casing is fairly typical of ASUS but in its super thin form (apparently the world’s thinnest 2-in-1 to use discrete graphics) it’s a pretty sexy looking machine.

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The Zenbook is an interesting idea as it can work as a powerful laptop or flip it over and it’s a super tablet. The box also had an ASUS pen which before I’d used it I’d decided was either innovative or could well just make the machine the biggest “blackberry” ever made.

Luckily it was pretty awesome.

A fair bit of that comes down to the well designed touchscreen technology that combined with the pen can detect around 1,024 pressure levels. I thought it was funny that the machine boasted “Up to 10-finger multi-touch”, like lucky I don’t have 11 fingers. It is very impressive though, especially when I decided to do the ultimate test for touch, a marathon game of “solitare”. Needless to say it lived up to expectations even if my card strategy didn’t.

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A laptop that flips was always a weird concept for me, like.. why? What’s the point of that? Turns out, its actually quite handy when you are trying to show someone something on the screen in a meeting, or flipping it to make into a stand so that you can draw on the screen with the pen. It makes you feel kind of “arty” even when clearly I am not. The strength of the hinge that allows for the 360 flip is amazing, it feels solid and at no point does it feel like “three more flips and this will break”.

You want connections, The Zenbook has a few. A micro SD card slot, headphones, USD 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI and a USB-C. These are good and most things run wirelessly these days but it will still mean that if you want to hook up to LAN you’ll need an adapter. That is the price you pay for super thin, and I think it’s a price well worth it. Harmon / Kardon take care of the sound on the Zenbook and for tiny speakers on the base of the case it packs a good punch.

It was good for watching Netflix at the kitchen table much to the bemusement of my wife. The screen is bright and vibrant, but I did have to crank it all the way up to get it to that. Working on graphics was amazingly clear considering the display isn’t 4k. It’s designed really well and even when you are outside you don’t get ridiculous reflections like you do on a lot of other supposedly modern screens. This made it extremely good when I wanted to read my online comics. Seeing Superman smash Brainiac while the screen was flipped into tablet mode made for easy navigation and the colours really popped.

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(pics – Sea of Thieves – on the Zenbook running at 720)

The use of the integrated Xbox account allowing you to link with your account and play on your laptop is really good. Although I loaded Sea of Thieves the game was unplayable on anything over 720p and the graphic card didn’t capture the magic of the water in the ocean at all. Considering that the systems core focus would be for work instead of play it it did an ok job, but it’s not going to replace a gaming laptop anytime soon.

If you are into the stats here they are:

ASUS ZenBook Flip 14 UX461 key features include:

13.9mm thin and 1.4kg light, ultra-compact all-aluminum design with versatile 360°-flippable ErgoLift hinge

Performance beyond the boundaries: Up to latest 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 quad-core CPU, up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 512GB SSD

Unbounded vision, amazing sound: 14-inch NanoEdge slim-bezel touch screen with ASUS Pen active stylus support and powerful Harman Kardon audio system

They are really impressive, but I’m not a “stats” guy. If if runs and feels right, that’s where I’m most happy. I want comfort, I want stuff to work, I want lots of battery use without needing to plug it in and the Zenbook does that perfectly. This is a great machine for a student or professional and you’ll get a few looks from impressed people when you use it in a meeting. It’s also a great travel machine as it will slip into a carry bag really easy on a long flight or ride on the bus. So I guess at the end of the day, could the ZenBook sway me to replace the computer I currently use for work. The answer is yes. This is a powerful, light bundle of multi-use impressiveness that feel strong enough to last .

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