Asus ZenBook 17 Fold Oled test: we tried a foldable screen laptop
Asus has always been a force for innovation, for example with the EEE Pc, the first Netbook, or the Transformer TF101, the tablet featured a detachable keyboard that doubled as a second battery. Innovation is sometimes marked by misfires, such as the Transformer Book Duet, the tablet with a detachable keyboard that embedded Android and Windows, and which drew the ire of Google and Microsoft and ultimately never came out.
Therefore, the latest innovation from Asus is the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled. However, these portable PCs with foldable screens are less innovative than the Transformer lineup, and their lifespan seems more controlled as Asus relies on experience. Intel is also working behind the scenes to push this foldable screen format and the Taiwanese manufacturer isn’t the only one working on the matter – Lenovo is ambushing with a second version of the ThinkPad Fold X1 arriving in 2023.
Therefore, the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled has the freedom to try to convince. Small flat entry: the price is as exclusive as the technology it embeds (3999 €).
Therefore, the ZenBook 17 Fold consists of a large 17.3-inch OLED display which, when unfolded, makes it a large Windows tablet. The screen folds in the middle until the ends touch. The hinge doesn’t allow the plate to fold all the way on itself, but instead bends, leaving a hole large enough to slide the Bluetooth keyboard into. The addition of this keyboard makes it possible to use the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled as a simple 12.5-inch laptop PC with the keyboard resting on the bottom of the plate. Asus has specified no less than 6 uses: laptop PC, laptop PC with virtual keyboard, desktop mode with the screen mounted and held down by its crutches with the keyboard right in front, book mode, tablet mode, and finally laptop mode with the keyboard in front of the screen to take advantage of display surface. So much for the concept.
The design combines glass and imitation leather. Glass on the hood and faux leather on the hinges, like a book cover. The set is nicely finished, but the assembly with the faux leather cover shows lots of openings that could allow dust to get into the hinges. Opening the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled requires both hands and handling takes a bit of getting used to to set it in the right direction.
The Bluetooth keyboard provides comfortable typing with a large key height. However, it lacks a backlight and cable for charging. Asus looks out of place to provide a USB-C to USB-C cable to charge the keyboard directly to the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled. You’ll have to make do with the only supplied USB-C charger to recharge your ZenBook or keyboard. A charging system installed in laptop mode would be most welcome, either by contact or induction.
Connections are limited to two Thunderbolt 4 ports that also double as charging sockets; therefore only one port is available for sedentary use. Asus provides a simple little USB-C to USB adapter as standard; we’re not going to say no to a small USB-C hub, which is why it should be purchased as an option.
Wireless connectivity is provided by the Intel AX211 chip which is compatible with wifi 6E at 2400 Mb/s and Bluetooth 5.2.
The webcam is equipped with a 5 Mpx sensor whose rendering is much higher than the average laptop. It also lets you unlock sessions with Windows Hello. However, the orientation does vary depending on the orientation of the ZenBook. So, in tablet or desktop mode, the webcam (sensor on the left) is oriented in landscape mode, while in laptop PC mode (sensor at the top of the screen), the webcam is in portrait orientation. Considering the price of the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled, it’s a good idea to include an image rotation system.
The ZenBook 17 Fold Oled is equipped with a fan to cool the Core i7. Under the watch of our thermal camera, only the part containing the component heats up. Thus, we measured 45.1°C almost in the middle of the screen during our encoding. The temperature is 43.7°C on the back of the hood on a faux leather hinge. The other half of the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled stays at room temperature because it only contains a battery.
Noise pollution is very limited because the fans only work under heavy loads. Hence it remains stationary most of the time. Thus we recorded 33.7 dB over 30 minutes of coding. Such a low score that allows the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled to go unnoticed even in the library.
The ZenBook 17 Fold Oled can’t seem to be taken off by ordinary humans. So we don’t tempt the devil. However, we were able to snap photos of the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled’s interior during its presentation; be aware that only SSDs are removable. However, Asus states that the repairability index is 5.9/10.
Asus ZenBook 17 Fold Oled: laptop mode with a physical keyboard | ©Digital
The ZenBook 17 Fold Oled is equipped with an Intel Core i7-1250U processor accompanied by 16 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD. This Intel processor is specially designed for ultra-thin computers. It has a 9 watt thermal shroud operated by 2 so-called high-performance hyperthreaded cores and 8 so-called efficient cores.
After running all of our tests, the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled hit a performance index of 88. This puts it well ahead of the Core i5-1130G7 of Huawei’s MateBook E (56) and not far from the Core i7-1260P of the LG Gram (93) — whose processor is limited by Limited thermal sheath.
Hence, respectable performance for the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled, especially as it’s intended primarily for office automation. Therefore, he’ll be able to do all the office stuff, and sometimes some creative stuff like photo editing or a bit of coding.
Good performance explained by the behavior of the Core i7-1250U. Thus keeping its P-core at 2 GHz and its E-core at 1.5 GHz. The power envelope is also maintained at 13.2 watts, as permitted by Intel.
The SSD is a Samsung P9MA1, the 980 Pro version reserved for integrators. Here it reaches 6.87 GB/s in reading and 5.16 GB/s in writing, meaning high performance.
The OLED panel that Asus uses comes from Chinese supplier BOE. It measures 17.3 inches and displays 2560×1920 px, 4/3 ratio. Once folded, in laptop mode, it displays 1920×1280 px in 3/2 format. Asus is careful with integration, both in terms of curvature – because the border doesn’t fold completely on itself – and in terms of the thickness of the border (just over a centimeter).
Under our investigation, the colorimetry is very accurate. We therefore measured a Delta E of 1.8, well below the 3 threshold from which colorimetric deviation is visible to the eye. The color temperature is 6772 K, slightly above video standards (6500 K). There’s nothing to complain about the contrast: thanks to OLED technology, the blacks are perfect; like persistence, almost non-existent.
Peak brightness is 338 cd/m², with HDR peaking at 402 cd/m². These values are centered and do not offset the reflection of the panel (50.2% reflectance). They also greatly disable use, especially since the curvature of the screen doesn’t facilitate finding the best position to limit reflections.
The ZenBook 17 Fold Oled sound system is entrusted to 4 speakers that are spread around the edges of the screen. Position that avoids the risk of obstruction.
Listening, the volume was just right, but wouldn’t be enough to surround the room at night. Despite the Dolby Atmos certification, the rendering is typical for a laptop PC, focusing on the mids, with a lack of low mids and bass.
The headphone output offers excellent dynamics and limited distortion. Crosstalk is average and thus offers decent stereophony. On the other hand, the output level is slightly low, and therefore the use of high impedance headphones should be avoided.
|Asus ZenBook 17 Fold||Average PC tested|
|Distortion + Noise||0.002%||0.015%|
Mobility / Autonomy
Most of these are the negative sides of this ZenBook 17 Fold Oled. Asus hasn’t shown too many photos of the folded machine and hasn’t conveyed its dimensions in laptop mode. On the official sheet, you have to settle for 37.8 x 28.7 cm in tablet mode 1.29 cm thick with non-slip pads. After being folded with the keyboard between the screens, the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled measures 28.7 x 18.9 cm with a thickness of 3.4 cm.
The weight is also disconcerting: 1.5 kg without the keyboard; in other words, in tablet or book mode, the weight is very quickly felt at arm’s length. To transport it, an additional 300 g is required for the keyboard and 227 g for the 65-watt charger.
A good surprise comes from autonomy. We measured 9 hours 30 minutes in laptop mode and 9 hours 20 minutes in tablet mode (screen at 200 cd/m² while reading a Netflix series in Chrome browser).
The respectable result was made possible by the low appetite of the Intel Core i7-1250U processor and the large battery capacity (75 Wh). Asus announced 24 hours of autonomy for the keyboard, which we can’t measure exactly, but the estimate seems fair to us according to our usage.