Asus’s line of ultraportable Zenbooks can be hard to distinguish from one another. There are a ton of them, and they all offer a similar look and a similar package. That’s certainly not the case with the new Zenbook 14 OLED Space Edition, which is designed to look like a spaceship. There’s a tiny 3.5-inch OLED display on the lid, which displays various cute space-themed animations, and there are various space-related engravings (including some Morse code) throughout the chassis. I’m not sure how practical of a purchase it will be (especially since Asus hasn’t announced the price yet), but it’s always nice to see companies stepping out of the box with creative designs.
Starting with this tiny OLED thing. It didn’t ultimately impact my user experience too much during my brief period with the Space Edition, but it is very cool to look at, and the animations really are fun — they lend a bit of a retro vibe to the whole affair. I did find the secondary screen useful when the device was closed — it displayed the date and time, which could be useful for quick reference when it was nearby, and also had a battery indicator so I knew how much juice the device had whenever I picked it up. But that’s also all information you can get easily from Windows (obviously), so it’s mostly just a neat thing to look at.
The primary display is a 14-inch, 16:10 OLED touch panel with a 90Hz refresh rate and 2880 x 1800 resolution. Colors were accurate, and it was a very nice display to look at overall. The 90Hz refresh rate, especially at such a high resolution, really feels like a luxury and makes the scrolling experience quite smooth.
Inside, the Space Edition comes with 12th-Gen Intel H-Series processors, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage. I’ll be able to discuss performance more during the full review process later this year.
The keyboard is really, really comfortable — I miss it.
See, kinda useful.
The touchpad has Asus’s LED numberpad technology.
But the Space Edition’s main calling card is its eye-catching design. It’s very cool. It’s colored in a finish called “Zero-G Titanium”, and the spacebar has a cute little planet on it. The engravings are visible, but nowhere near obnoxious enough to be distracting.
The chassis also feels a notch sturdier than many Zenbooks I’ve used — it’s a line that I often find to be flimsy for its price. The screen and keyboard deck are solid, and the finish doesn’t feel plasticky at all. Asus says the Space Edition complies with the “US Space Systems Command Standard SMC-S-016A testing protocols” and can operate in “extreme climates”, so there’s that. The upgraded build hasn’t made the Zenbook too clunky, though — at 2.87 pounds, it wasn’t a problem to carry around.
There’s a decent port selection with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2, an HDMI 2.0, a headphone jack (which not all Zenbooks have these days), and a microSD reader. There’s a 720p HD webcam as well.
I wish the two USB-C weren’t on the same side.
I am happy about the headphone jack.
Asus always seems to be trying these funky things, and I’m generally a fan. But the Space Edition feels a bit more refined than some of those models. The engravings really do seem to be part of a subtle space aesthetic, rather than attempts to grab passerbys’ attention. And while the secondary screen could be stuck on all kinds of devices as a gimmick, it feels like it fits here. I’m not sure how much this will cost yet, so can’t make any kind of recommendation or value proposition, but I certainly enjoyed using it.
The lines on the lid are meant to evoke “a space capsule”.
The Zenbook 14 OLED Space Edition is shipping in Q2 of 2022.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge