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Can Your Laptop Do This? The ASUS ZenBook FOLED (UX9702) Review

Can Your Laptop Do This?  The ASUS ZenBook FOLED (UX9702) Review

While folding smartphones are becoming mainstream in some markets, there aren’t many folding computers available. However, Asus, known for experimenting with new laptop designs, has released the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (ZenBook FOLED).

We had the opportunity to use the computer for a couple of weeks in Q3 2022, and were impressed by its offerings. {HERE IS OUR UNBOXING CLIP}

The Asus 17 Fold is an expensive piece of hardware, with a cost of USD 3500, due to the many cool technologies that have been built into it. These features, including the ability to bend, make the device cost that much.

Whenever it arrives in Kenya (it is probably here already), it will likely sell for around KES 400K, making it one of the most expensive laptops on the market. Pricing details aside, let’s take a look at how good this machine is and decide for yourself if it’s worth the investment.

IN THE BOX

  • Zenbook 17 Fold OLED laptop
  • charger
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Sleeve

SPECIFICATIONS

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold Specs
Software Windows 11
Processor Core i7-1250U
RAM 16 GB
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
Storage 1 TB
screen 17.3”, foldable and touchscreen, OLED, plastic, HDR, 500 nits with HDR enabled
Ports Audo jack, two Thunderbolt 4
speakers 4, with Dolby Atmos
Windows Hello Yes, with IR Camera
Weight 1.5 kg without keyboard

DISPLAY

As its name suggests, the laptop boasts an OLED display. If you have used an OLED screen before, you know they are excellent and it is hard to go back to an LCD panel. When fully opened, the plastic display measures 17.3 inches, providing plenty of space for creative work.

If that size is too big for you, you can use its “ultra-compact” mode, which allows you to fold the display halfway to use it like an ordinary laptop. This mode shrinks the display to 12.5 inches, and the other part of the display goes dark as soon as you place the included keyboard on it.

Both sizes are respectable and work great for any workflow.

At 2.5K, the OLED screen is stunning and touch-sensitive, which comes in handy when using it as a tablet. The maximum brightness is 350 nits, which is bright enough for outdoor use.

The bezels around the screen are not the thinnest compared to other Asus laptops, but that doesn’t matter as they help with handling the computer, especially in tablet mode.

The only issue with the screen is that it is a fingerprint magnet, so make sure to have a cleaning cloth handy if you want to keep it pristine. The crease at the middle of the screen is not a deal-breaker and you won’t notice it after a short while. It also feels like a book when closed up.

Generally speaking, Asus has showcased that it can build a gorgeous folding display, which also has a kickstand built into its back. We are impressed with it.

WAYS

What’s the point of a folding device if you can’t use it in the way you want? Asus has you covered with the 17 Fold, which can be used in six different modes.

  1. The Laptop mode works as described above: simply fold it and use the virtual keyboard to work.
  2. The second Laptop mode uses the included keyboard, which has an internal battery, a USB-C outlet for charging and a power button. The keyboard can be placed on the lower part of the screen, shrinking it to 12.5 inches and also saving battery.
  3. The Desktop mode uses the whole screen, with the keyboard next to it, similar to a normal desktop computer. The display is supported by a kickstand.
  4. It can be used as a giant tablet.
  5. Reader mode can be achieved by folding it halfway like a book.
  6. Finally, Asus allows you to use the Extended mode, which separates the screen into two 12.5-inch displays, useful for multi-tasking.

KEYBOARD

Asus has managed to create a laptop that is essentially one large screen, hiding all the required internal parts and able to fold down in the middle. Since most of the space is reserved for a keyboard and touchpad, the laptop comes with a separate wireless keyboard that attaches magnetically to the lower half of the screen. This design choice allows for the different usage modes described above.

The keyboard itself is very thin, but key travel is more than sufficient, and once you get used to it, you can type quickly.

However, it does not have backlighting, which may be a disappointment for some people, but it is not a major issue for us. Additionally, it does not include a fingerprint scanner. Logging in can be done via a password or Windows Hello with the IR camera that sits next to a 5 MP webcam.

One positive aspect is that the keyboard holds its charge for more than five days, so you don’t need to charge it as often.

HARDWARE PERFORMANCE

The laptop features a 12th Gen Intel chip, specifically the Core i7-1250U. This is a mobile chip, but it can support vPro essentials such as hardware shield and device management. The 17 Fold also has a fan, but it is mostly silent and there is a high chance you will not hear it. This is good for people like me, as a loud fan can be distracting.

The Zenbook Foldable also packs 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD. It also features integrated Xe graphics. The GPU is decent enough for lightweight gaming, but we did not test that because this is not a gaming PC. The CPU is also powerful enough, with 2 performance cores and 8 efficient cores, and can reach a maximum speed of 4.7 GHz.

BATTERY PERFORMANCE

Battery life on the Zenbook 17 Fold is excellent. Asus advertises that you can get up to 14 hours before the battery dies, but I managed to get around 10 hours, which is double the life I get on my primary computer.

You can also extend battery life by using the Laptop mode with the keyboard attached, as the screen is then shrunk to 12.5 inches, saving power as there are fewer pixels to power. This kind of battery power is rarely seen on Windows devices, as most of them do not have the efficiency seen on MacBooks with their M1/M2 chips.

The 75Wh battery also supports fast-charging, although a full charge takes about two hours.

SPEAKERS

The Fold 17 has four speakers located around its display. They also feature Dolby Atmos, which is a rarity among laptops. While the quality cannot match the sound performance of larger computers, I was very pleased with the output. There is no need to use earphones or headsets with this device, as the speakers are plenty loud with a nice bass. Can all laptops be like this, please?

Note: the 14-inch ROG laptop has better speakers and is probably the best among Windows laptops.

SUMMARY OF FOLDABLES

The folding laptop technology is still very new, and it will take some time before it is fully refined. For example, Windows 11 does not currently work well with folding displays, but that may change in the future. The Fold 17 has few rivals, besides the Lenovo X1 Fold, which is also cheaper, but it is difficult to obtain in Kenya as Lenovo does not bring all of its devices to the country (more folding laptops from Lenovo and Samsung are coming this year following their showcase at CES 2023).

This laptop is likely to appeal to professionals who move around a lot and want to enjoy a large screen. It is not yet at a level where everyone should have it, as it is expensive, but I have enjoyed using it so much that I believe one day it will become commonplace, just as folding phones are becoming more popular.

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