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Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: A Promising Step Forward

Talking about The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED laptop, Since the unveiling of a 17-inch foldable OLED screen by Samsung Display last May, laptop enthusiasts, myself included, have eagerly anticipated the arrival of this futuristic form factor on store shelves. This year has seen numerous laptop releases, most of which have been updated to well-established designs. The introduction of a 17-inch foldable laptop represents one of the few remaining uncharted frontiers in this mature market.

Several major PC manufacturers have either announced their involvement or are rumored to be working on 17-inch foldable laptops. However, in keeping with its reputation for innovation, Asus appears poised to be the first to make a significant impact. Presently, I am composing this review on the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, which marks the inaugural appearance of a shelf-ready device of its kind for reviewers. This laptop boasts a 17.3-inch screen that seamlessly folds in half, and the results are truly impressive.

NewForTech Opinion:

Pros:

  1. Exceptional Foldable OLED Screen
  2. Comfortable and Functional Keyboard
  3. Sturdy Build with a Professional Aesthetic

Cons:

  1. Occasional Glitches and Bloatware
  2. Non-Backlit Keyboard
  3. Considerably High Price Tag
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: A Promising Step Forward

While it generally performs well, it falls short of justifying its hefty $3,499.99 price tag, which Asus anticipates for its release in Q4. My encounter with several issues during testing has led me to withhold a wholehearted recommendation at this price point.

Nevertheless, it does offer several compelling features. The OLED display is stunning, boasting vibrant colors. The full-sized keyboard is exceptionally comfortable. Most notably, the screen’s ability to fold in half is a game-changer. This experience surpasses my previous encounter with a foldable device (Lenovo’s smaller and glitch-prone ThinkPad X1 Fold from 2020), fueling my excitement for the future of foldable technology.

NewForTech Opinion:

Folding mechanism

In terms of versatility, the Zenbook 17 Fold’s folding mechanism is quite impressive. It unfolds into a 4:3 17.3-inch tablet, folds horizontally to become a 3:2 13-inch notebook (or close to 12.5 inches), and closes neatly with the keyboard inside, resembling a small book suitable for your purse. The potential applications of such a device become evident.

Of course, there are other ways to utilize it. Holding it horizontally like a book may be suitable for specific apps. Asus introduces an “Extended Mode,” converting it into a conventional laptop form with the top half as the primary screen and the bottom half as a secondary screen. Alternatively, it can serve as a sizable Netflix-viewing device.

However, I found two primary practical uses for the Zenbook 17 Fold. When I craved an expansive display, I unfolded it, utilized the built-in kickstand on my desk, and employed the Bluetooth keyboard on the desk’s surface. For a more relaxed setting on the couch or bed, I rotated the screen vertically, folded it into a laptop configuration, flattened the kickstand, and attached the keyboard to the bottom half. Despite sounding somewhat intricate, this process is surprisingly swift, and Windows smartly adjusts to the top screen once the keyboard is attached.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: A Promising Step Forward

Practical ways to make the most of the Zenbook 17 Fold:

Firstly, the foldable panel boasts an impressive rating of 30,000 open/close cycles. On paper, this equates to roughly eight years of use if you’re folding and unfolding it about ten times a day. (It’s worth noting that Asus has clarified this figure specifically refers to full open/close cycles and doesn’t include adjustments to the screen angle.) It’s reassuring to know that the screen’s durability might outlast other components of the laptop.

However, I must add a significant caveat here. We’ve heard stories of foldable phones developing creases surprisingly quickly. It’s important to remember that most people interact with their phones far more frequently than they would with a laptop, so the situation might differ with a device like this.

Now, addressing a common question: Does the Zenbook have a visible crease down the middle? When using the device in tablet mode while gazing directly at the screen, I can confidently say I don’t perceive any crease whatsoever. However, a noticeable crease does become apparent when viewing the screen from the right or left angles. While this doesn’t directly affect the user experience, it’s not entirely reassuring.

On the positive side, it folds – a 17-inch panel that neatly folds. Undeniably, that’s quite impressive.

Keyboard and Build Quality

The 17-inch form factor of the Zenbook 17 Fold makes a significant difference when compared to my last review of a 13.3-inch foldable device. The keyboard here, unlike the cramped one on the smaller device, is comfortably sized, akin to a 12.5-inch notebook. Typing on it felt akin to a standard Zenbook keyboard, which I personally enjoy.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED

However, it’s worth noting that the keyboard is slightly thin. While this didn’t bother me, it might be a concern for some users who prefer more robust keyboards. It’s important to mention that this keyboard doesn’t come with backlighting, a surprising omission for a device at this price point.

The touchpad, though offering a decent click, lacked palm rejection. It often mistook palm touches for navigation and occasionally registered unintended clicks.

As for build quality, it’s impressively sturdy. The chassis, constructed from magnesium-aluminum alloy, exudes professionalism with its “Tech Black” color. There’s no flex anywhere, and the faux leather cover adds durability. However, the surface around the logo does tend to attract fingerprints easily, though they are easy to wipe off.

Aesthetics and Ports

When closed, the Zenbook 17 Fold presents itself as an elegant, high-end planner. The lid features a sleek Asus logo, a marked improvement from the previous “ASUS” branding. The kickstand blends seamlessly with the cover, and while the bezels might seem a bit large for screen purists, they are advantageous for tablet use.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold

However, the port placement is a matter of debate. The device includes two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. One USB-C port is on the side with the webcam, and the other is on the side to its left. This configuration results in a port being at the top of the display in tablet mode and on the top right in laptop mode. Some might find this arrangement awkward, wishing for at least one port on the bottom right edge, but it’s worth noting that Asus’ design choices might have limitations.

Display Quality and Final Thoughts

Display Quality and Final Thoughts

The Zenbook 17 Fold’s screen, a 60Hz OLED touch panel, offers a resolution of 2560 x 1920 as a 17-inch display and 1920 x 1280 as a 13-inch display. While the brightness peaks at 257 nits, which isn’t exceptionally bright, OLED screens are typically on the dimmer side. There was a momentary issue with stuck pixels on the right side, though it resolved itself after a restart. My one critique here is the 60Hz refresh rate, which made scrolling feel somewhat stuttering.

Despite these minor criticisms, the Zenbook delivers an enjoyable viewing experience. It boasts excellent color coverage, with 100 percent of sRGB, 93 percent of Adobe RGB, and 100 percent of P3 in testing. The screen’s rich and vibrant colors, along with clear details, impressed me. Asus’ claim of emitting “70 percent less harmful blue light than an LCD display” adds to the screen’s appeal. Overall, it’s evident that screen quality hasn’t been sacrificed for the sake of foldability, offering promise for the future of foldable devices.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold: Performance and Specs

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold: Performance and Specs

The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED comes in a single configuration featuring a Core i7-1250U processor with two performance cores and eight efficiency cores. It’s paired with 16GB of memory and a 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD. The device is equipped with a 75Wh battery and a 65W adapter. However, it’s essential to note that its performance isn’t the standout feature here.

In terms of performance, it falls into the “decent” category, suitable for most users’ everyday needs. Running around a dozen Chrome tabs alongside Slack, Spotify, and occasional Zoom calls posed no issues. Nevertheless, for more demanding tasks, it falls short. When tackling photo editing in Lightroom, the laptop heated up significantly, and the software experienced frustrating freezes and lag. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend this device for those who intend to use resource-intensive applications like Lightroom frequently. As for gaming, it handled League of Legends with an average of 120fps, making it suitable for mid-range gaming but not for graphically intensive titles.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Battery Life and Charging

Given the combination of an OLED display and a 17-inch screen, I had concerns about battery life. To my pleasant surprise, I achieved an average of six hours and 36 minutes with continuous use, including Chrome and Spotify, at a screen brightness of around 200 nits. While not extraordinary in the world of laptops, it’s a notable improvement compared to the X1 Fold. Charging the device to 60 percent took approximately 51 minutes, which is reasonable.

However, there’s an additional factor to consider—the keyboard also requires charging. Although I couldn’t test its full lifespan, Asus estimates it can last up to 24 hours. During my testing, when the keyboard did run out of power, it took a few minutes to charge and needed to be unpaired and repaired before it functioned properly again. This could potentially lead to inconvenience if the keyboard were to die at an inopportune moment during use.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Battery Life and Charging

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Keyboard and Software Challenges

Now, let’s delve into some concerns. Thus far, my assessment of the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED has been rather balanced. It’s a device with its share of common laptop issues but generally remains usable. However, I did encounter a few problems that somewhat tarnish its image for a device priced at $3,499.99.

Firstly, there are some keyboard-related matters. While in laptop mode, the magnets on the keyboard’s underside did an adequate job of securing it to the bottom half of the screen. Yet, getting it in place occasionally proved to be a bit of a struggle, requiring some fiddling with its position before it would finally click into place.

Furthermore

It’s worth noting that the keyboard is designed to attach only to the side opposite the webcam. It’s not intended to cover the webcam, and it won’t attach there. While many users may prefer the webcam at the top when the Fold is in laptop mode, some of us don’t use the webcam as frequently and would appreciate having it at the bottom (where the ports are located).

There’s one more thing about the keyboard—once it’s paired, there can be a lag if you haven’t used it for a while. Occasionally, when I started typing after picking up the laptop, the first few keystrokes wouldn’t register or would take a moment to appear on the display. It’s not a significant issue, but it could become frustrating for daily use. While some delay is typical with Bluetooth keyboards, this one seemed to exhibit a bit more lag than others. (Although the laptop supports up to Bluetooth 5.2, the keyboard connects via Bluetooth 5.)

Lastly, with the keyboard, there’s a recurring issue I’ve observed with detachable decks like this one. Sometimes, when using it on my lap, the angle would make the touchpad think it was being pressed when it wasn’t. This wasn’t a major problem, but a more significant issue was that it occasionally occurred with the keyboard keys as well. During testing, there were instances when the keyboard mistakenly registered a letter key as being held down, leading to a continuous stream of letters until I frantically hit the backspace key to stop it.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Software Glitches

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Software Glitches

Now, let’s talk about some software-related matters. It’s challenging to determine whether these issues are Asus’ responsibility, but for users, the source of the problem doesn’t matter—glitches are simply frustrating.

For instance, the dock occasionally vanished when I opened a full-screen Chrome tab in laptop mode. Even when I moved the mouse to the bottom of the screen, the taskbar failed to reappear. Upon investigation, it turned out that I had somehow activated an “Automatically hide Windows taskbar” setting. While this feature is sensible to prevent burn-in on the OLED screen, the taskbar should still reappear when the cursor is in the area.

Additionally, about a day into testing, the device stopped automatically adjusting the desktop’s orientation when I rotated it. In other words, Windows remained vertical even when I switched to tablet mode, causing considerable inconvenience. I had to manually adjust the display settings to flip the desktop to Landscape mode each time I changed modes.

Furthermore, a persistent issue from the Zenbook Fold remained—during Zoom calls in laptop mode, the video feed appeared sideways. Despite physically turning the laptop, the image stayed sideways. Although Zoom calls in tablet mode are an option, it would be preferable to have the flexibility to take them in laptop mode as well. Asus acknowledges this bug and assures it will be resolved soon.

Lastly, there’s some bloatware on the device. I encountered pop-up ads from the MyAsus software, and McAfee came pre-installed. While not technically a glitch, it’s worth noting as it could be a point of concern for users.

Potential for Greatness

A Pricy Package

In conclusion, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED offers a mixed bag of experiences, and with its $3,499.99 price tag, it raises some questions.

Potential for Greatness

This laptop certainly has potential if it can iron out its issues. Of course, that’s something you can say about almost any laptop ever reviewed.

The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED genuinely takes a step toward excellence. Its sleek appearance is eye-catching, and its compatible form factor makes it incredibly portable. Plus, it offers the versatility of two different laptop sizes in one device, which I personally find highly convenient in my daily tasks.

It’s crucial to recognize that this laptop isn’t a powerhouse; it’s not built for heavy-duty tasks beyond general office work. However, if you keep that in mind, the overall experience is relatively smooth and not plagued by as many issues as the ThinkPad X1 Fold was a year and a half ago. About 95 percent of the time, using the Zenbook 17 Fold feels like using any other OLED laptop.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Specs at a Glance

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Specs at a Glance

Here are the key specs for the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1250U
  • Display: 17.3-inch OLED 2.5K (2560 x 1920), 4:3 aspect ratio, touchscreen (Folded: 2 x 12.5-inch 1920 x 1280, 3:2 aspect ratio)
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Memory: 16GB 5200MHz LPDDR5
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) + Bluetooth 5.2
  • Cameras: 5MP AI camera, HD camera with IR function, color sensor
  • Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x 3.5 mm audio combo jack
  • Audio: Quad speaker system with SmartAmp, Harman Kardon certified with Dolby Atmos
  • Battery: 75Whr lithium-polymer battery
  • Power Adapter: 65W Type-C power adapter
  • Dimensions (Unfolded): 378.5 x 287.6 x 8.7 mm, 14.9 x 11.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Dimensions (Folded): 287.6 x 189.3 x 17.4 mm, 11.32 x 7.45 x 0.69 inches
  • Weight: 3.31 lbs

However, 5 percent of a product’s lifespan adds up to a considerable amount of time. Given the issues I’ve encountered, along with the notably high price, it’s challenging for me to wholeheartedly recommend this as a daily driver.

A Promising Glimpse into the Future

A Promising Glimpse into the Future

Nonetheless, this product is undeniably practical and undeniably cool. Its existence, coupled with its mostly functional performance, bodes well for this emerging category of devices. It’s safe to say that a truly exceptional foldable device from Asus may be on the horizon.

Now, it’s time to keep an eye on online communities like Reddit to see when users start reporting any creases or issues.

Accessibility Notes:

  • The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s keyboard keys measure 0.75 x 0.75 inches with 0.125 inches between them. The keyboard lacks backlighting, but it includes indicator lights for the Caps Lock and Bluetooth keys. The power button measures 0.125 x .375 inches, and the volume keys are 0.5 x 0.25 inches. The keys are black with white text and require minimal force to depress.
  • The laptop cannot be opened with one hand but can be tilted back flat.
  • The touchpad measures 4.125 x 2.375 inches and demands a slight, dedicated force to depress.
  • The Zenbook does not support fingerprint or facial logins.

Windows 11 Accessibility Features:

  • Windows 11 includes a built-in screen reader (Narrator) and supports third-party screen readers like NVDA and Jaws.
  • Voice typing and speech recognition are available features.
  • Users can customize color filters, including inverted, grayscale, red-green, and blue-yellow, as well as contrast themes.
  • Caption color and size can be adjusted for improved visibility.
  • Keyboard remapping is possible with Microsoft’s PowerToys, and Sticky Keys are supported. An on-screen keyboard is available.
  • Cursor size, speed, and gestures can be adjusted in Touchpad Settings.
  • Windows 11 supports eye control with external eye trackers.
  • The Snap Layout feature simplifies window management.

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