Asus has always been a force for innovation, for example with the EEE Pc, the first Netbook, or the Transformer TF101, this tablet equipped with a removable keyboard that also functions as an extra battery. Innovations sometimes marred by misfires, such as the Transformer Book Duet, a tablet with a detachable keyboard that integrates both Android and Windows, which drew the ire of Google and Microsoft and ultimately never took off.
The latest innovation from Asus is therefore the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled. However, this laptop with a foldable screen is less innovative than the Transformer series could be, and its gestation seems more controlled, as Asus has relied on its experience. Intel is also working behind the scenes to push these foldable screen formats, and the Taiwanese manufacturer isn’t the only one working on the subject – Lenovo is lurking with another version of its ThinkPad Fold X1, which should arrive in 2023.
ZenBook 17 Fold Oled therefore has free rein to try to convince. Small flat entrance: its price is as exclusive as the technology it integrates (€3999).
ZenBook 17 Fold therefore consists of a large 17.3 inch Oled screen, which when unfolded makes it a large Windows tablet. The screen folds down in the middle until the two ends touch each other. The hinge doesn’t allow the plate to fold completely in on itself, but it does curve it, leaving a hole big enough to slide a Bluetooth keyboard into. The addition of this keyboard therefore makes it possible to use the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled as a simple 12.5-inch laptop with the keyboard located on the lower part of the plate. Asus has defined no less than 6 uses: laptop, laptop with virtual keyboard, desktop mode with the screen unfolded and held by the crutch with the keyboard directly in front, a book mode, a tablet mode and finally a laptop mode with keyboard in front of the screen to take advantage of the screen surface. So much for the concept.
The design mixes glass and imitation leather. The glass on the hood and imitation leather above the hinge, like the cover of a book. The kit is well finished, but assembly with the faux leather cover reveals several openings that may allow dust to slide at the hinge. Opening the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled requires both hands, and handling it takes some getting used to orientating it.
The Bluetooth keyboard provides comfortable typing with a large key height. However, it lacks the backlight and a cable that needs to be recharged. Asus has not seen fit to provide a USB-C to USB-C cable to charge the keyboard directly to the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled. You’ll have to be content with the only included USB-C charger to recharge either the ZenBook or the keyboard. A charging system, once installed in portable mode, would have been welcome, whether by contact or induction.
Connectivity is limited to two Thunderbolt 4 ports that double as charging ports; therefore only one port is available for sedentary use. Asus supplies a simple, small USB-C to USB adapter as standard; we would not have said no to a small USB-C hub, which must therefore be purchased as an optional extra.
Wireless connection is provided by the Intel AX211 chip-compatible wifi 6E at 2400 Mb/s and Bluetooth 5.2.
The webcam is equipped with a 5 Mpx sensor, the rendering of which is much higher than the average for laptops. It also allows you to unlock a session with Windows Hello. However, its orientation does not vary depending on the orientation of the ZenBook. Thus, in tablet or desktop mode, the webcam (sensor on the left) is oriented in landscape mode, while in laptop mode (sensor at the top of the screen) the webcam is in portrait orientation. Considering the price of the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled, it would have been wise to include an image rotation system.
The ZenBook 17 Fold Oled is equipped with a fan to cool the Core i7. Under the eye of our thermal camera, only the part that contains the components is heated. We thus measure 45.1°C almost in the center of the screen during our encoding. The temperature is 43.7°C on the back of the hood above the imitation leather hinge. The other half of the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled remains at room temperature as it only contains the battery.
Noise pollution is very limited due to a fan that only starts up under heavy load. It therefore remains stationary most of the time. We thus noted 33.7 dB during an encoding of just over 30 minutes. A particularly low value that allows the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled to go unnoticed even in a library.
The ZenBook 17 Fold Oled does not appear to be removable by mere mortals. So we did not tempt the devil. However, we were able to take pictures of the inside of the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled during the presentation; Please note that only the SSD can be removed. Asus nevertheless declares a repairability index of 5.9/10.
Asus ZenBook 17 Fold Oled: laptop mode with physical keyboard | © The Digital
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 thermal envelope of 9 watts powered by 2 so-called high-performance hyperthreaded cores and 8 so-called efficient cores.
After running all our tests, the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled reaches a performance index of 88. This puts it well ahead of the Core i5-1130G7 from Huawei’s MateBook E (56) and not far from the Core i7-1260P from the LG Gram (93) — if processor is limited by the limited thermal envelope.
Honorable performance therefore for the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled, especially since it is mainly intended for office automation. He will therefore be able to carry out all office tasks, and occasionally some creative tasks such as image editing or a bit of coding.
Good performance, which is explained by the behavior of the Core i7-1250U. It thus maintains its P-cores at a frequency of 2 GHz and its E-cores at 1.5 GHz. The power envelope is also kept at 13.2 watts, as allowed by Intel.
The SSD is a Samsung P9MA1, a version of the 980 Pro reserved for integrators. Here it reaches 6.87 GB/si reading and 5.16 GB/si writing, i.e. high performance.
The OLED panel that Asus uses comes from the Chinese supplier BOE. It measures 17.3 inches and displays 2560 x 1920 px, a 4/3 ratio. When folded, in laptop mode, it displays 1920×1280 px in 3/2 format. Asus was careful with the integration, both in terms of curvature – as the edges do not fold completely on themselves – and in terms of the thickness of the edges (greater than a centimeter).
Under our probe, the colorimetry is very accurate. We thus measured a Delta E of 1.8, well below the threshold of 3, from which the colorimetric drifts are visible to the eye. The color temperature is 6772 K, which is very slightly above the video standard (6500 K). Nothing to complain about the contrast: thanks to OLED technology, the blacks are perfect; like the persistence, almost non-existent.
The maximum brightness is 338 cd/m², with HDR peak of 402 cd/m². These values are in the middle and do not compensate for panel reflections (reflectance of 50.2%). They are also particularly disabling in use, especially since the curvature of the screen does not facilitate the search for the best position to limit reflections.
The sound system on the ZenBook 17 Fold Oled is entrusted to 4 speakers distributed on the edge of the screen. A positioning that avoids the risk of obstruction.
When listening, the volume is correct, but it won’t be enough to surround a room over the course of an evening. Despite the Dolby Atmos certification, the reproduction is typical for laptops, that is, focused on the midrange, with a lack of low midrange and bass.
The headphone output offers excellent dynamics and limited distortion. Crosstalk is average and therefore offers decent stereophonic sound. On the other hand, the output level is a little low, the use of headphones with high impedance must therefore be avoided.
|Asus ZenBook 17 Fold||Average PCs tested|
Mobility / Autonomy
The main disadvantage of this ZenBook 17 Fold OLED. Asus doesn’t show too many pictures of the folded machine and doesn’t communicate about its dimensions in laptop mode. On the official sheet, you have to settle for 37.8 x 28.7 cm in tablet mode for 1.29 cm thick with the non-slip pads. Once folded with its keyboard between the screen, the ZenBook 17 Fold OLED measures 28.7 x 18.9 cm for a thickness of 3.4 cm.
The weight is also confusing: 1.5kg without its keyboard; in other words, in tablet or book mode the weight is felt very quickly at arm’s length. Transporting it requires an additional 300g for the keyboard and 227g for the 65-watt charger.
The good surprise comes from autonomy. We measured 9 h 30 min in laptop mode and 9 h 20 min in tablet mode (screen at 200 cd/m² when reading a Netflix series in the Chrome browser).
An honorable result made possible by the low appetite of the Intel Core i7-1250U processor and the large battery capacity (75 Wh). Asus advertises an autonomy of 24 hours for the keyboard, which we couldn’t measure precisely, but the estimate seems reasonable for our use.