Endless possibilities. (Okay, four, but still.) | Image: Asus
Each year, it seems that more companies are trying out devices with foldable screens. In the PC space, results for those have been… mixed. But Asus is known for doing funky things, especially funky things with screens. So it was only a matter of time before the company tried its hand at one of these, and we’re finally getting a look at the first generation. Say hello to the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, a 17.3-inch laptop with a foldable OLED screen. For those seeking a more traditional offering, there’s also a clamshell Zenbook 14 OLED coming later this year.
The primary benefit of a foldable device (apart from the fact that it looks really freakin’ cool) is that it makes a larger screen easier to fit into purses and bags. A 17-inch tablet, in particular, might be a pain for many people to carry around, no matter how thin and light it is. There are also a few more options for how you can use a foldable like this — you can unfold it and use it like a regular tablet, you can prop it up with a kickstand, or you can fold it sideways at a 90-degree angle and use it like a miniature clamshell.
This was what I enjoyed about ThinkPad X1 Fold, Lenovo’s shot at this kind of thing. I liked being able to pop the device into different modes depending on what I was doing and the position I was in. That device, in clamshell mode, was cramped to use due to its small screen, though (it was only a 13.3-incher to begin with). The Zenbook 17 Fold should, theoretically, solve that problem: It’s a 4:3 17.3-incher when unfolded and a 3:2 12.3-incher in clamshell. That also leaves more room for a spacious keyboard — my other major complaint about the X1 Fold was that the keyboard was impractically small. (The Zenbook Fold’s is bundled with the device and has 1.4mm of travel.)
Here’s what it looks like folded into clamshell mode.
Inside, the Zenbook comes with 12th Gen Intel Core i7 U-Series processors and up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. It includes Asus’ “ScreenXpert 2” software (also on its recent dual-screen devices) to help you more easily split the screen and arrange its contents.
One of the problems with thin, high-resolution devices (the Fold is 2560 x 1920) is often battery life. All those pixels suck up juice, and a smaller device tends to have less room for a large brick. The X1 Fold did not last very long. However, the Zenbook 17 has a 75Wh battery inside (which is fairly large for a product that’s less than half an inch thick and bigger than what comes in many 13-inch thin and light laptops). Asus hasn’t provided a battery life estimate yet, of course, but that’s a promising spec.
The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will be available in Q2 2022 with pricing to be announced. (I imagine it’ll be expensive.)
And here’s the Zenbook 14 OLED.
Asus announced a few more OLED Zenbooks this week, including the Zenbook 14 OLED. This one is an old-school clamshell 14-inch laptop that could serve as a daily driver for work or school. It’s available in some interesting-sounding colors (depending on which processor you choose), including Aqua Celadon, Ponder Blue, and Jade Black, with a lid inspired by “traditional Japanese craftsmanship.”
This Zenbook has a roomy 16:10, 2.8K, 90Hz display (a refresh rate that’s becoming more common on OLED laptops but is still pretty hard to find). You can buy it with either a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 P-series processor or an AMD Ryzen 5000 chip. Asus says it will meet the requirements of Intel’s Evo program (which would bode well for the battery life, in particular), and the audio has been Harmon Kardon-certified.
Pricing has not yet been announced for the Zenbook 14 OLED, but it’s coming in Q2 of 2022.