With its screen that folds like a magazine, it can escape from a sci-fi movie. However, it will end up on the shelves: the Asus Zenbook Fold will be sold before Christmas, at a price of 4,000 euros. If its tariff is unfortunately undemocratic, this computer is like a new class and perhaps describes the PC of tomorrow, or the next tomorrow. So we lived and worked with the Zenbook Fold for two weeks, the time to prove that its folding screen is not a gimmick.
A unique chameleon
In the Asus box, there is a small mechanical keyboard. When you open the screen, you can place this keyboard on its lower part, which will give it the appearance of an ordinary computer. A particularly small PC, however: it fits on the narrowest train shelves, allowing you to work there for several hours, thanks to the 12.5-inch screen and standard-size keyboard, equally comfortable.
It’s when you unfold the Zenbook Fold’s screen that the magic happens: its dual display. You can display the entire A4 document, then a second after it, without harming your eyes. Unfolded, the screen measures only 17 inches, but the unusual 4/3 format gives it an above-average height, comparable to a 21-inch screen (16/9).e).
We are tempted to unfold it at the least opportunity, especially since, even in this position, it fits in small spaces. In a TGV, he was content with the table separating the four-seat island. In a hotel, the smallest office suits him. At home, it finds its place in a corner of the table. You will be surprised to put it in surprising places: next to you on a couch, on a kitchen bar, in a box of drawers, to work standing up. The experience is so good that we feel less need to connect to a large 24-inch screen to work faster.
In the hotel, it can be a giant tablet, and admirably plays the role of an Oled TV, if you are not presbyopic or wear your glasses, because it is tied to your knees, only 35 centimeters away on. The image quality is excellent, the blacks are perfect, the colors are rich, the sound is surprisingly strong and clear, although the bass is cautious and easily saturated.
Thus installed, you can look at a comic strip or a magazine in a more comfortable visual. But the Zenbook Fold does not allow you to play new games, because the graphics core, which is very moderate, runs old or 2D titles smoothly. And it is difficult, alas, to enjoy this awesome entertainment machine for more than an hour or two, because the weight quickly turns out to be uncomfortable (1.5 kg without keyboard, 1.8 kg with ).
At night, however, the Zenbook Fold’s battery drains quickly. Its endurance varies from five to twelve hours, depending on the use of ambient light (playing with screen consumption). These numbers are pretty average, but not enough for a device that’s likely to be used from sunup to sundown.
How solid is it to use?
Its flexible screen is fragile, it is not protected by a thick layer of glass. Its technology is close to the Samsung Fold, a foldable smartphone that continues to suffer from major weak points, three years after its appearance on the market.
But unlike Samsung, the Asus Zenbook Fold is a computer: therefore less exposed to shocks and wear. There is very little risk of it falling, unlike smartphones that come out of the pocket several times a day. It is less controlled with fingers than with a mouse and keyboard (the use of a stylus is also not recommended by the manufacturer).
When it is folded, its screen forms, in the middle, a less pronounced fold than that of a smartphone: its roundness is softer, underlying the sandwich of layers that this type of screen is formed by less stress. On the other hand, its screen can be subject to sudden changes in temperature that will likely destroy the adhesion between these layers, like a foldable mobile. Asus recommends carrying it in the protective bag (supplied): stored in this way, there is little chance that something will get stuck between the two parts of its screen, a terrible scenario of destruction for it display class.
During the test, the Zenbook Fold was not spared. He often travels in the basket of a bicycle on paved roads and moves the tables a hundred times. But it is difficult to predict when he will resist such treatment.
defects of youth
In many ways it is very well thought out. Its thick sides make it easy to unfold, its hinge smoothly unfolds and stays in place. But its software suffers from many annoying errors: the connection of the keyboard changes, the webcam and the screen sometimes remain tilted at 90oh when the engine has just been turned down. Let’s hope for Asus that these concerns disappear, in December, before the sale.
Some problems also appear during use. His keyboard is not powered: it runs on battery power and, if it is not recharged every two days, it breaks. It must be revived by connecting it to the computer’s USB-C socket using a cable (not supplied). Regarding the computer foot, which is not adjustable, when you start a videoconference you can only see the hair of the participants. With a little trick, the Zenbook Fold becomes a very effective device.
In addition, the screen of this transformist PC is not bright enough to be used comfortably outdoors, like many OLED screens. And when folded, it’s 3.5 centimeters thick – twice as thick as a Macbook Air, which makes it a pain to put in a bag.
In ten seconds, the Zenbook Fold is transferred, from a compact laptop to a comfortable workstation and, at night, to a television. At least two families of users will clearly benefit from this: large nomads and teleworkers living in cramped quarters.
Before taking this computer seriously, however, it is better to wait for it to “grow up” in a year or two, the time for Asus to rework some details and for users to make sure that its flexible screen can withstand jolts. and, above all, that its design is sustainable.
After this period, the question of price becomes central. Can we expect it to drop significantly? Not for many years, judging by the stratospheric prices for foldable smartphones, which have almost fallen in three years. “The price of the Zenbook Fold is justified, we do not make more of this product than others”thus confirming the world Nicolas Bruckert, PC product manager at Asus EMEA.
It’s better for you if:
- you are looking for a computer that allows many uses in a small space,
- you are naturally impatient and you have a taste for risk.
This is not for you if:
- you don’t like to attract attention,
- in your eyes, any device should be designed to last,
- you travel less,
- your screen is too big,
- you are not ultra-rich.