Dual-display laptop for work and entertainment: Asus ZenBook Duo UX481F

Tested the versatile and original Asus UX481F , a dual-display laptop designed for mobility and productivity, but also capable of entertaining and surprising.

This version is part of the ZenBook premium family and Duo series . Next to the 14 ”Full HD display is a second panel integrated into the main body of the notebook . The ScreenPad Plus touch matrix ensures a resolution of 1,920 × 515 pixels and is unique in the panorama of modern portable systems.

Asus UX481F offers Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 thanks to the integrated 160 MHz Intel AX201D2W module The basic idea is to offer an additional space for interaction to the user , who can use the screen in different ways. This ScreenPad version is an evolution of the ScreenPad 2.0 release (where the touch display is integrated into the same area of ??the touchpad) .

In this case, the visible touch-sensitive surface is much larger and joins the one made available by the two-key pad.

Microsoft Windows 10 manages this component like any secondary screen, allowing the reproduction of images in clone mode, in extension or by enabling only one of the two displays at will. All this is possible through the “project” function and the display key, which coincides with the function key F8.

The upper display has a 14 ”diagonal and a 16: 9 screen format. These are ideal proportions to work well, with legible and defined icons and characters. Thanks to the NanoEdge FHD Frameless platform , which allows an interesting diagonal / chassis ratio. The LED backlit panel is also very bright when set to maximum and allows you to work well even in strong light conditions.

Dual-display notebook for work, how does ScreenPad Plus work?
how does ScreenPad Plus work?

On the other hand, the 12.6 ”ScreenPad Plus has a matte finish and, even set to maximum, is unable to match the brightness and contrast of the primary display , at least in the configuration under test.
But, of course, this portion of the screen isn’t meant to view photos and videos, although it can , but it’s a highly configurable productivity tool . Anyone who has worked with at least two displays knows the benefits of such a work configuration and the ability to maximize the use of multiple programs and tasks.

Interesting is the availability of a Windows Hello compatible IR camera and an audio system with high quality microphone and Harman Kardon certified speakers.
Asus, with the ScreenPad Plus, wants to replicate this work setting even in mobile environments , without having to rely on external components.

How does ScreenPad Plus work?

In addition to being able to arrange icons, windows and programs, the screen can be divided in a specific way and used with certain Apps, easily activated through the side-scrolling Launcher menu .

Asus has called this mode ScreenExpert : This is the software that simplifies the management of windows and App. The platform includes App Switcher, ViewMax and App Navigator, can ease the management of transactions between the main screen and ScreenPad Plus.

Not only , users can drag and drop apps, toolbars or menus into the ScreenPad Plus, to create a custom working pattern.

It is therefore possible to combine different software on the two displays , browsing and compiling documents, drawing and using the lower screen for palette and graphic and video tools . In this sense, Asus is working with some developers, including Corel, to optimize the

ScreenPad Plus tools and achieve maximum productivity.

Quick Key allows you to customize some combinations through dedicated keys, to streamline repetitive operations, such as “copy + paste”, search, access to certain software or system settings.
On the screen can also be managed a virtual numeric keypad or a notebook where you can write and take notes freehand.

Dual-display notebook for work, everyday usability

Overall, the experience of using the touch display in different contexts is positive. You can speed up many daily tasks and work with multiple open programs. The screen is sensitive but not always accurate along the edges.

In addition, as soon as you become familiar and get used to the ScreenPad, you are automatically led to scroll between Apps and programs, continuing to swipe and click even on the main display, which however is not touch! After an initial loss, you return to work on the lower screen.

Keyboard and touchpad deserve a separate reasoning. Asus had to work hard to fit two screens, a keyboard with standard keys and a sensitive area for mouse functionality into a standard-sized chassis (323x223x19.9mm).

The keyboard is backlit on three levels is sturdy and quiet and offers a great feeling when typing, thanks to the reduced key travel. Some small sacrifices, however, have been made to combine versatility and two screens.

The Control and Enter keys are significantly smaller than on a standard notebook and the directional arrows have been integrated into the main board. For those who type frequently and carry out data entry or text writing, this detail makes the difference and makes general use less comfortable. Too often you find yourself pressing the wrong keys.

The touchpad is adequately sized and offers good responsiveness and sensitivity.
Again as a matter of multi-component integration, the sensitive area is not located in the center but has been placed on the right.

The use is pleasant but it is evident that the positioning is rather disadvantageous for those who traditionally work with the left hand .

Dual-display notebook for work

Finally, the canonical wrist rest is missing, an area that allows you to unload the joints and shoulders from the stress of prolonged use. In this case, the palm rest area is absent due to the forced advancement of the keyboard.

To partially compensate for this, Asus has advanced the keyboard and touchpad up to the front profile and has studied a display hinge capable of lifting the base of the notebook . When the screen is open, the laptop is slightly tilted. A detail that favors typing, using the desk and the work surface as an extension of the laptop and a replacement for the palm rest.

If, however, we find ourselves on the move, without an adequate support surface,typing is not exactly easy (notebook on the legs or leaning against a skimpy bar table or on the train).

Dual-display notebook for work, hardware equipment

Asus ZenBook Duo UX481F is a complete system with a rich equipment.
The Core i7-10510U CPU , introduced by Intel last fall, is part of the 10th Core generation. It takes advantage of a 14 nm construction process and is ideal for this kind of compact configuration, also thanks to a TDP of only 15 W.

The 4 cores (8 threads) work with a clock between 1.8 GHz and 4, 9 GHz, depending on computational load and environmental conditions.
This component includes a dual-channel DDR4 2666 MHz RAM controller. The test machine has 16 GByte LPDDR3 at 2,133 MHz, fully soldered on-board and not further expandable.

Mobility and lightness

The integrated graphics section is flanked by the more powerful Nvidia GeForce MX 250 GPU with 2 GByte of GDDR5 memory . While not specifically a gaming component, it is able to offer sensitive acceleration for DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.6 geometries and primitives.
Pascal architecture offers 384 cores at 1,518 MHz and 7 GHz memory on 64-bit bus.

The chassis, very compact and already loaded with components, offers no space for optical drives or storage of the 2.5 ”Serial Ata type. The only slot available is the PCIe x2 slot for M.2 modules, occupied by the 512 GByte Hynix HFM512GDJTNG drive .

Asus UX481F offers Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 thanks to the integrated 160 MHz Intel AX201D2W module . Communication ports include one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A , as well as an HDMI, headphone / microphone audio connector and microSD reader.

Interesting is the availability of a Windows Hello compatible IR camera and an audio system with high quality microphone and Harman Kardon certified speakers.

Dual-display notebook for work, testing and usability
During the tests, the UX481F was appreciated for its good reactivity in most contexts. The machine is in fact satisfactory to use both in an office context and in home environments, thanks to its discrete multimedia qualities.


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