Asus Zenbook Pro Duo hands on – are two screens better than one?

Asus today announced several new laptops and PC accessories ahead of the official start of Computex 2019. The biggest standouts at their press event were easily the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo and Zenbook Duo.

Asus Zenbook Duo gives you a second screen

Asus latest hero laptops take the company’s Screenpad technology and give it a sizable upgrade — literally.  While the standard Screenpad fits into a trackpad’s traditional center position, the new Plus variant actually goes directly under the main display.

The Screenpad Plus is essentially a secondary display, allowing you to drag apps to it or even extend applications for more screen real estate. Asus showed off a variety of using it to keep an eye on viewer comments while game streaming or even as a control pad for creating music, just to name two examples. The included stylus also makes the second screen useful for artists and other creative types.

ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo extra screen and keyboard

Asus moved the keyboard much closer to the user to accommodate its Screenpad Plus display. As a result the keyboard is more condensed than most laptops but still reasonably comfortable to use. Asus even includes an attachable palm rest to give you a bit more support while typing.

The trackpad is also in a new location, pushed to the right. The trackpad serves a second purpose as a number pad, transforming with the push of a button.

Asus Zenbook Duo specs and hardware

The Zenbook Pro Duo is the more powerful model, featuring a larger 15.6-inch 4k OLED touchscreen, 14-inch FHD Screenpad Plus, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, and up to an Intel Core i9 CPU.

The Zenbook Duo is still quite powerful but has slightly more modest specs including a 15-inch FHD display, 12.6-inch FHD Screenpad Plus, an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU, and a Core i7 processor.

ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo from side

Pricing and impressions

During our brief time with the Duo series we felt like the idea has some potential but that its second screen’s placement makes it a bit awkward to use. To help somewhat combat its unique positioning Asus did angle the bottom part of the laptop, which also helps with airflow. Nonetheless, the Zenbook’s dual-screen approach is less ideal than side-by-side monitors but we do applaud Asus trying something new. For what it’s worth, we like this approach better than Asus’ standard Screenpad.

Is this really an effective way to get a second screen on a laptop? The verdict isn’t in just yet.

Whether or not a dual screen laptop is truly useful is probably a matter of debate, but until we’ve spent more time with it we won’t judge it too harshly. What do you think of the Asus Zenbook Duo series? Are two screens on a laptop better than one?