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Asus’ 2021 laptop line includes two new dual-screen ZenBooks

The Verge - Wed Jan 13 18:00

Asus has announced two new dual-screen ZenBook Duo laptops as part of its slate of CES 2021 announcements. The 15-inch model will be available in North America in April of this year, but you can preorder the 14-incher for $999.99 starting January 14th to ship on January 22nd. There’s also a new VivoBook and a new ExpertBook for folks looking for light and portable purchases.

If you’re new to the ZenBook Duo line, the laptops have a primary screen (the regular one) as well as a secondary screen (the ScreenPad Plus) that’s built into the top half of the keyboard deck. It’s not really big enough to do anything on, but you can load your distractions (Twitter, Discord, etc.) onto it to keep them out of your main workspace. Some programs, including Adobe’s, also offer ScreenPad-specific interfaces.

The 15.6-inch ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is an update to the dual-screen ZenBook Pro Duo 15, a 15.6-inch dual-screen laptop with a primary OLED display. There’s also a 14-inch model, a sequel to the regular ZenBook Duo that came out last year. This model is verified through Intel’s Evo program, which means Intel vouches that it has good performance, battery life, and other features.

The two Duos got a spec bump: The Pro Duo 15 OLED now has Intel’s 10th Gen processors (up to a Core i9) and Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX 3070 mobile GPU. The ZenBook Duo 14 now includes Intel’s 11th Gen processors (a Core i7 or a Core i5) with Iris Xe integrated graphics (and you can add an Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU as well).

The update I’m happiest about is that they both have a new design that tilts the ScreenPad Plus upward — it’s no longer flat on the keyboard deck. That means you don’t need to crane your neck over the keyboard to read the secondary display, something that was inconvenient about the older Duo models.

There’s also a new hinge design that Asus says is 30 percent smaller, and a smaller fan size. Asus has also upgraded the ScreenPad’s software (it’s now called Screen Xpert 2) to include new apps that make multitasking easier. With a new Window Flick feature, for example, you can easily “flick” windows from one display to the other.

A user edits a photo using a stylus on the Asus Zenbook Duo 14.
Here’s the 14-inch model.
Image: Asus

Outside of ZenBook land, there’s a new VivoBook S14, which is also Evo-certified. Asus says it’s the lightest 14-inch VivoBook ever made at just 2.87 pounds. The S14 has also been bumped up to 11th Gen processors with Xe graphics. Asus says you’ll get up to 17 hours of battery life.

There’s a regular VivoBook 14 as well, which is powered by AMD’s new Ryzen 5000 U-Series mobile processors. Both models are coming to North America in February, with pricing to be announced.

The VivoBook S14, open, faces away from the camera next to a pile of accessories including a tennis racket, a toolbox, and a pair of sunglasses.
Here’s the VivoBook S14 in “deep green.”
Image: Asus

Finally, Asus has made some updates to its ExpertBook lineup, including its astonishingly light ExpertBook B9. The new model’s full name is the ExpertBook B9 B9450CEA (vPro).

The 1.94-pound laptop, which Asus says is the world’s lightest 14-inch business laptop, now includes Intel’s latest 11th Gen vPro processors, which provide a number of security and remote management features, including Intel’s Active Management Technology.

The ExpertBook has a number of new features designed to make conference calls easier, including two-way AI noise-canceling technology, Harman Kardon-certified speakers, and support for Wi-Fi 6.

The new ExpertBook B9 is coming in Q1 2021, with pricing to be announced.

The Asus ExpertBook B9 seen from above, with backlit keyboard illuminated. The touchpad displays an LED numpad. A stylus sits to its left and an external drive to its right.
The new ExpertBook B9 has “military-grade durability” according to Asus.
Image: Asus