You are at the right place if you are seeking a laptop that is suited for your podcasting business, whether you create audio podcasts or video podcasts.
You don’t even need a desktop computer to make making audio podcasts. FL Studio, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, Audacity, and other popular DAWs and audio editing applications may all be run on a laptop with a decent amount of RAM.
If you make video podcasts, though, you should consider investing in a high-end system with a powerful CPU and GPU capable of editing and producing massive video files. From audio to video podcasting, we have models for everyone on our list.
You may have excellent content, but if it is not well-organized, you risk losing your audience. And there are many things you should do to make your podcasts outstanding, such as editing audio/video, mixing, deleting unneeded sections, adding music, and so on.
Despite the fact that there are numerous sites specialized in hosting podcasts, such as Podbean, Libsyn, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and others, many well-known content providers have begun to post their podcasts on YouTube.
They’re using the algorithm to reach out to more people and make more money. If you want to get into YouTube, you’ll need to be able to add visuals, which means you’ll need a nice laptop.
There won’t be much external noise if you’re recording a podcast in a studio, and your audio/video won’t need much editing. If you’re doing it from your room, however, there’s a good possibility you’ll be interrupted.
As a result, you’ll need to edit the audio/video before broadcasting it on your program. That’s where a laptop comes in handy! A laptop is really useful, although it is not required for beginners. Consider acquiring one if you want your show to sound professional.
You’ll need a good quality mic, a stand, a pop filter, an audio interface, mixes, and other podcasting equipment as a beginner. After you’ve settled on them, look for a low-cost laptop that can run your favorite DAWs and video editors.
Laptops For Podcasting-
1. Acer Swift X
If you want a high-performance, highly compact laptop, the Acer Swift X combines excellent power inside an ultraportable shell. Whereas most ultraportables prioritize efficiency and rely on integrated graphics, the Swift X packs a punch with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU.
The Swift X can handle content production and some gaming in addition to the fundamental office activities that most ultraportables are designed for, thanks to its RTX graphics and a strong AMD CPU.
Despite its power-hungry components, the Swift X maintains efficiency and provides ample battery life. However, you’ll have to put up with a loud fan and a heated keyboard, and the system’s fit and finish aren’t up to pace with comparable premium ultraportables.
Make sure you need the Swift X’s graphics prowess before you commit because you’ll have to compromise in other areas to get it. The Swift X is presently available in only one model from Acer. With a list price of $1,099.99, it’s a 14-inch laptop with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU and RTX 3050 Ti graphics.
On Amazon, it’s presently available for $1,069.99. The Swift X features in three colors: Steam Blue, Prodigy Pink, and Safari Gold, and has a thin aluminum chassis. We received the gold model, however, just the lid, a short strip above the keyboard, and the display hinges are covered in the color.
The rest of the laptop is silver, resulting in a two-tone design that lends the system an OEM impression. The matte black plastic display bezels get a design flaw as well.
The aluminum chassis is relatively compact. It’s around the same size as the HP Envy 14, another powerful 14-inch laptop.
The Swift X is a couple of ounces lighter than the 3.3-pound Envy 14, and both are only 0.7 inches thick. The Swift X’s power brick is also compact, resulting in a 4-pound total carrying the weight that is both affordable and manageable.
When you open the display, the hinges drop below the bottom panel to provide the keyboard a modest tilt for a more comfortable typing angle and better airflow. The Swift X requires all the checks it can get to keep thermals under control because its high-end components are packed into such a compact shell.
During basic chores, the laptop is rather quiet, but when it’s doing harder work, the cooling fan starts to run. The Swift X gets loud when running Photoshop and other graphics software, as well as when playing games. The laptop begins to heat up to the point that the keys feel warm under your fingertips, even with its cooling fan working overtime.
The keys themselves are quick and quiet, but there are two aspects about the keyboard that irritate me. For starters, the keys are silver rather than black, which means that when the keyboard backlighting is turned on in a room that isn’t entirely dark, there is little to no contrast.
For another thing, the Page-up and Page-down keys are crammed in above the side arrow keys, and I accidentally hit them all the time. I’d much like to have these keys mapped to another key or relocated from their current location.
A fingerprint reader is located beneath the arrow keys for quick and safe logins. Because the Swift X’s webcam lacks infrared capability, the fingerprint reader is the only biometric option. With smooth gliding and a solid, responsive click, the touchpad seemed precise.
I don’t mind the touchpad, but I don’t like the AMD, Nvidia, and Alexa stickers on the left side. They’re strewn about so haphazardly that their crooked, ill-spaced placement detracts from the Swift X’s overall design. The sticker affixed at Acer needs to get his act together.
The 14-inch display has a full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution and features 100% sRGB. It had a brilliant image with vivid color and high contrast. The major issue I have with the display is its size, not its performance. Simply said, it feels too claustrophobic for serious design work.
When opposed to a 16:10 display, it has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which limits the amount of vertical area available. The HP Envy 14 has a larger 14-inch 16:10 display, which is better suited for creative work. Because Apple’s laptop displays have a 16:10 aspect ratio, even a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro feels more expansive than the 14-inch Swift X. A typical 720p webcam is mounted above the display.
With its grainy image and reddish skin tones, you won’t impress your fellow Zoom conference attendees. A physical privacy shutter is also missing from the webcam.
The speakers, too, were underwhelming. They didn’t achieve a loud volume at maximum volume, and the music was tinny as expected. They also fire downward, which exacerbates the problem. With both USB Type-A and Type-C connectors, the Swift X covers the fundamentals, albeit I’d prefer a pair of USB-C ports and one USB-A port instead of the other way around.
The USB-C connector supports data transfers at 10 Gbps, as well as DisplayPort and power transmission. Creative professionals who need to use media cards will be disappointed by the lack of an SD card port. The laptop is equipped with the most recent wireless networking protocols, including WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, but it lacks an Ethernet connector. There’s also an HDMI connector.
In scientific testing, the Swift X easily outperformed comparable ultraportables. The HP Envy 14, a 14-inch laptop with an 11th-generation Core i5 CPU and GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q graphics, is the most recent laptop we’ve examined that features close to the Swift X.
The Swift X was also compared to Acer’s Swift 3X, which is powered by an 11th-generation Core i7 processor and Intel’s discrete Iris Xe Max graphics. The Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga and Dell XPS 13 9310, both 2-in-1 convertibles with an 11th-generation Core i7 CPU and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, round out the top five.
PCMark 10 is our initial test, which assesses performance in common computing applications such as office productivity, web browsing, and video conferencing. The Swift X came out on top, outscoring the next closest system by over 1,000 points.
Next up is Cinebench, a CPU sprint that uses all processor cores and stresses the CPU rather than the GPU. The Swift X excelled in the multi-threaded test simply because its Ryzen CPU has twice as many physical cores and processing threads as the other computers’ processors.
The AMD Ryzen 7 5800U is an eight-core threaded processor, while the Intel Core i5-1135G7 and Core i7-1165G7 are four-core threaded processors. Because the Swift X has double the cores and threads, it has a Cinebench score that is nearly double that of the Swift 3X and more than double that of the others.
On our 3DMark benchmark, the Swift X and its RTX 3050 Ti graphics are more than twice the output of laptops with integrated Intel graphics.
The HP Envy 14 and its GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q performed excellently, but it was still a long way behind the Swift X in terms of performance. The Swift X has the graphics horsepower to accomplish content development tasks.
We played a couple of games on the Swift X because it has discrete graphics from Nvidia’s newest GPU family. At the Highest preset in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1920×1080, it averaged 48 frames per second. The Swift X averaged only 16 frames per second on the more challenging Metro Exodus at 1920×1080 using the benchmark’s Extreme level but improved to 52 frames per second at the Normal preset.
If you keep the quality settings low, you’ll be able to get playable framerates at 1080p. The Swift X, with its compact size and graphics muscle, might be a nice fit for people who want an easily portable laptop to take to class or around the office each day, as well as some gaming capabilities when they return home or to their dorm – once their schoolwork is done, of course.
With headphones connected in, we test laptop battery life by looping a 4K video using the basic Windows Movies & TV app, with screen brightness set to roughly 250 nits and volume adjusted to 50%. The Swift X’s battery life isn’t the best among ultraportables, but it lasted more than 12 hours on our battery drain test, which is impressive considering its high-powered components.
There’s little doubt that the Acer Swift X delivers adequate CPU and GPU performance for content creators on the go. The Swift X boasts rapid application performance and great multimedia performance thanks to its octa-core Ryzen 7 5800U processor.
When you add the RTX 3050 Ti graphics, you receive a significant jump in 3D graphics and gaming performance over a standard ultraportable with an integrated GPU. It’s hard to find a laptop with this much performance in such a little compact. And you won’t have to give up much battery life in exchange for this power.
The Swift X’s cramped display prevents a stronger recommendation for creative people. The 16:9 aspect ratio, in particular, makes the screen feel constrained. To operate Photoshop and other media-creation and -editing tools, I wouldn’t say you need a 15.6-inch or larger laptop, but I would argue that you need at least a 14-inch display with a 16:10 ratio.
The Swift X’s 14-inch, 16:9 display, on the other hand, isn’t a deal-breaker for gamers. It’s a better fit for students or office employees as a laptop: it’s light enough to tote around during the day and powerful enough to play games at night.
2. HP Envy 13
The HP Envy 13 is the newest ultraportable laptop to hit the market, and it seeks to undercut the competition with a low price. It’s been towards the top of our best laptops list for a few years, so will it be able to keep up with the 2022 model? The model we evaluated is relatively reasonable, with an RRP of £899 in the UK and $711 in the US.
However, Envy’s beefier features cost £1,199 and $1,049, respectively, indicating that HP’s laptop is aimed at competing with Dell and Apple’s high-quality ultraportable rivals.
The Envy 13 isn’t groundbreaking in terms of design, but it does look good: it features made of aluminum and has a simple, streamlined design. Although it lacks finer features such as RGB LEDs, the HP looks at a place next to the Dell XPS 13 and Apple MacBook Air.
It also has enough connectivity. Two full-size USB ports are discreetly disguised under drop-hinges on the HP. A USB-C port with power delivery and 10Gbps file transfers, as well as an audio jack and a microSD card reader, are included.
There’s dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 on the inside. That’s quite acceptable for everyday use, however, there are some gaps. There’s no HDMI output, and Thunderbolt 4 isn’t available, either. The ‘SuperSpeed USB-C’ port is limited to 10Gbps, therefore there’s no Thunderbolt 3 like on the Envy 13 (2021).
It would have been nice to have more USB-C ports, and the USB ports could have been quicker as well. There is no wired internet, and while HP has a webcam, it does not support Windows Hello for simpler sign-in. The build quality is adequate for everyday use, but the HP falls short in this regard as well.
The base flexes, the keyboard deck bends slightly, and pulling the display to the back creates some desktop distortion. It’s not a disaster, but if you use the HP frequently, a sleeve would be advisable. The Envy 13 is 17mm thick and weighs 1.3kg, all of which are standard statistics – not awful, but easily beaten by competitors.
Indeed, the Envy is up against a slew of formidable foes. The 11th-generation Dell XPS 13 starts at £849 and US$729, and it’s more durable, thinner, and lighter than the HP, with Thunderbolt connectors but no full-size USB ports.
Dell’s latest XPS laptops start at £1,069/US$969 and offer the same benefits. The MSI Prestige 14 Evo is thinner and lighter, with Thunderbolt, but its build quality is subpar. The current MacBook Air is also a strong contender: costs start at £999 and US$999, respectively, and you get a rock-solid chassis and dimensions that are close to the Envy.
Because the keyboard is softer, the buttons are more pleasant and silent, which is great for lengthy typing sessions. They’re quite large, and the font is legible, with a bright, crisp backlight. It’s good mainstream hardware, but if a keyboard is important to you, the Dell has a better design.
The 13in chassis means there’s no area for a number pad, and the huge buttons make the layout a little claustrophobic in parts. The power button is close to the Delete key, which is inconvenient because you’ll press it by accident.
The fingerprint reader is positioned adjacent to the cursor keys (two of which are half-size), whereas the Return key is merely single-height.
Moving on, the touchpad is average, with a plastic surface that is a little too harsh and a little too short. The built-in buttons are comfortable to use. It’s fine for regular usage, but every major competitor is superior. The Envy 13’s IPS panel features a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is enough for regular use.
It’s also a touchscreen, which adds to its versatility. It’s a shame HP didn’t go with a 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio to give this computer some more height, especially since it’ll be used to run web browsers and office software so frequently. The HP’s 13.3in panel provides excellent image quality.
The backlight achieves a maximum brightness of 422 nits, making it ideal for outdoor use, while the black point of 0.21 nits ensures plenty of depth. The 2,009:1 contrast ratio is a fantastic statistic for any IPS panel, and it gives the HP a lot of vibrancy and complexity.
Colors are accurate with a delta E of 1.26, and the panel rendered 97 percent of the sRGB gamut — however, it can’t handle the Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 color spaces. The color temperature of 6,086K is a little warm, but it’s not too bad.
This screen is on par with any competitor panel and is adequate for color-sensitive creative jobs. If you invest more money, you’ll get a significant upgrade. Because of a deep mid-range and a top-end that doesn’t turn tinny, the speakers are suitable for everyday music listening, but there isn’t much bass.
The HP has a mid-range specification, which is unsurprising. The Intel Core i5-1135G7, a Tiger Lake CPU with four cores and a peak Turbo speed of 4.2GHz, is the most important component. There’s 8GB of dual-channel memory and a 512GB SSD, and the Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU is a pleasant surprise given that most competitors use integrated graphics.
The HP’s single-core and multi-core Geekbench scores of 1,37 and 4,486 respectively are satisfactory, and they enable solid everyday performance — there’s enough power here to do Office applications and many browser tabs. It’ll also run less-demanding creative apps. During benchmarks, it’s a good thermal performer, with very little fan noise and heat.
In terms of everyday computing, the Core i5 part can handle almost everything, and its PC Mark 10 score is comparable to the Core i7 CPUs in the MSI and Dell notebooks. That comes as no surprise in benchmarks that focus on common causes.
Any of the Core i7 chips in competing computers, on the other hand, will add approximately 1,000 points to that Geekbench result, giving you the extra grunt you’ll need for tougher content-creation tasks. The MacBook Air’s Apple M1 processor is even speedier.
In 3D Mark Night Raid, the HP received a score of 13,554 thanks to the Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics core. That’s respectable, but it’s only a few thousand points higher than Intel’s Iris Xe processor.
The Nvidia GPU adds a little more speed to casual games and a little more editing power, but it’s not a game-changer. In the meantime, the battery life is adequate.
In a work test, the Envy 13 lasted 10 hours and 22 minutes, while in a video test at 120 nits, it lasted 14 hours and 37 minutes. Those numbers are better than the MSI and Dell machines, and while the Envy will easily last a day, there are options for longer battery life if you need it. In the UK, the Core i5 model I reviewed costs £899, whereas, in the US, it costs $711. (sale price).
It’s the cheapest HP Envy 13 available in the UK. You can save money in the United States by removing the touchscreen and half the storage space. This brings the price down to just $599 (sale price). Customization options are not available to UK buyers.
In the UK, a model with a Core i7-1165G7 processor, double the RAM, and a 1TB SSD costs £1,199. A similar model costs $1,049 in the United States (sale price). The HP Envy 13 is a good mainstream laptop, but it struggles to stand out — it has a great screen, but that’s about all it has going for it.
In addition to strong performance from the Core i5 CPU and Nvidia GPU, the Envy 13 offers a respectable design, a reasonable keyboard, and good battery life. However, its competitors are thinner and more durable, and Envy’s connectivity and trackpad are subpar.
In too many ways, the HP is ordinary, which means its more expensive Core i7 models aren’t worth buying when so many rivals are sleeker, stronger, and less expensive. If the competition is too expensive, the Core i5 model is a good alternative if you’re looking for a good ultraportable on a budget.
3. LG Gram 14
As a powerful, slim, midsize laptop, the LG Gram 14 creates an excellent first impression. The main selling feature is its lightweight, which is impressive considering it’s a 14-inch laptop with a fast Intel Core i7 processor.
However, upon closer inspection, you’ll notice some puzzling omissions. It lacks a touchscreen and a backlit keyboard, and its display resolution is limited to 1,920×1,080 pixels, which is surprising for a modern Windows laptop with such a high price tag. Of course, the fact that LG sells laptops at all may be the most shocking thing for many laptop buyers.
The electronics company is known for a variety of products, including televisions and appliances, but it also makes computers. However, because the firm has traditionally solely marketed its laptops in other countries, this information may not be widely known among American shoppers.
Now, for the first time in the United States, the company is entering a congested computer industry by selling a series of high-end ultrabook-style laptops. The LG Gram range (stylized with a lower-case “g”) consists of three fixed-configuration models, one 13-inch and two 14-inch, all of which have slim, lightweight casings, Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, and 1,920×1,080-pixel displays.
In the United States, the LG Gram 13 and LG Gram 14 cost $899 to $1,399, respectively. LG already sells comparable, if not identical, combinations in Australia (beginning at AU$1,399) and other countries, but not in the United Kingdom.
We tested the LG Gram 14 in its most expensive $1,399 version to the test (so named because it weighs only 980 grams or 2.16 pounds). Even while it’s lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air (2.9 pounds) and the new Lenovo Yoga 900 (2.84 pounds), it’s not the lightest laptop we’ve tested (that would be the amazingly light 1.9-pound Lenovo LaVie Z ).
The LG Gram 14’s high-end version contains a fifth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, a large 256GB SSD, and 8GB of RAM (LG says faster sixth-generation chips are coming at some point, but for now it’s a generation behind).
That makes it pricey, but not prohibitively so. Dell’s excellent slim XPS 13, which costs $1,150 and has the same 1,920×1,080 non-touch display, 256GB SSD, and 8GB RAM (although with a newer Intel sixth-generation Core i5 CPU instead of a fifth-generation Core i7) as the closest equivalent combination. In the United States, a 13-inch MacBook Air with a Core i7 processor and the same storage and RAM costs $1,449.
The LG Gram series has a very Apple-like design and feel, from the minimalist shell to the familiar-looking island-style keyboard, thus the MacBook is an especially good comparison. It’s a look that’s been imitated before, and one colleague who saw the LG gram said it looked like LG’s take on Samsung’s take on Apple’s iconic MacBooks. Perhaps it all started with laptop design.
Despite the LG Gram’s relatively high price and lack of functionality (which could also be argued of our hypothetical high-end MacBook Air combination), the more I used it, the more I liked it.
It turns out that having a somewhat larger screen without the extra weight that comes with it is rather valuable, and I found myself reaching for the system for on-the-go meetings over other laptops that might have more bells and whistles but were heavier and more difficult to transport.
It still feels like an early draft, much like Microsoft’s experimental new Surface Book. If some design and build quality issues are ironed out, greater screen resolutions, touch options, a backlit keyboard, and current-generation CPUs are added, this may be a serious contender in the premium laptop market.
The LG Gram’s main selling point, among a sea of luxury 13-inch and 14-inch laptops, is how light it feels. It’s surprisingly portable, especially given the Core i7 processor inside, weighing only 2.16 pounds (980 grams).
However, it appears insubstantial and manufactured indifferently. The chassis, which is comprised of carbon magnesium and lithium magnesium alloys, has lightweight and allows for a lot of flex in the body. Our test unit’s bottom panel was noticeably squeaky at one point where two panels didn’t fit together precisely, and the four rubber feet on the bottom didn’t all sit flush on the table.
These might be anomalies from an early review sample, but they’re hardly what you’d expect from a $1,400 laptop. The screen hinge wobbled with every movement or even intensive typing, giving the device a cheap feel.
Only a big island-style keyboard and a glass-topped touchpad are housed inside the sleek interior tray. Although the center of the keyboard tray has a lot of flex under the fingertips, typing is smooth. We sometimes missed a keystroke or two, which could be due to the shallow keys. A backlight for the keyboard is also missing, a feature that used to be uncommon but is now available in many laptops, including budget versions. The large touchpad, on the other hand, was a strong point, excelling at multi-touch movements like two-finger scrolling.
Each of the three LG Gram variants has an IPS display with a screen of 1,920×1,080 pixels and no touch functionality. Touchless computing can reduce weight, thickness, and money, but it’s also becoming a standard feature in higher-end non-Mac laptops.
When it comes to devices without touchscreens, Windows 10 is a vast improvement over Windows 8. Our test unit’s display was bright and attractive from off-axis angles, but it was also glossy and reflected a lot of screen glare. While 1,920×1,080 is still the HD video standard, better-than-HD resolutions, even up to 4K, are becoming much more prevalent in laptops costing more than $1,000.
There aren’t many places for ports and connections on such a slim body. Still, with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, an SD card slot, and a Micro-USB connector for usage with an external Ethernet dongle, the basic configuration here should be enough for most needs.
Processor (Core i5 vs. Core i7), the screen size (13-inch vs. 14-inch), and SSD storage are the only differences between the three fixed configurations (128GB vs. 256GB). Although competing premium laptops with Core i5 CPUs were as fast or quicker in multitasking tests, we tested the LG Gram’s highest-end setup, and single-app performance was quite strong.
Any of them will work fine for the types of common chores — Web browsing, HD video playing, spreadsheets, and office docs, or simple picture and video editing — and the Core i7 used here has plenty of performance headroom. The only speedbumps we encountered in anecdotal hands-on use were the rare ergonomic ones, not anything performance-related.
Because the LG Gram is so small and light, it would be ideal if it also had long battery life. Unfortunately, the system only lasted 5:48 in our video playback battery depletion test. That’s not a bad score, and it would have been regarded as exceptional just a few years ago, but the Dell XPS 13 beats it by more than an hour, and the MacBook Air nearly triples it.
It’s always fascinating to see a new competitor enter the competitive laptop market in the United States. In 2008, Samsung made a similar step, and it has since become one of our favorite brands.
Despite certain missing features I’d like to see in this price range and below-average battery life, the LG Gram 14 gradually pushed its way into my usual laptop rotation, primarily because it offered a larger screen in a highly portable design.
The LG Gram feels like a generation for LG’s next laptops, and if the company can build on its strengths and fill in the gaps, it might become a popular option to some of the more well-known ultra-light laptop families.
4. Asus ZenBook Duo
The Asus ZenBook Duo has only one — and only one — a reason to be purchased. If you’ve ever seen a movie, you’ll understand why: there are two screens. There’s the main display, which is a 14-inch 1080p matte screen.
Another display, the ScreenPad 2.0, is embedded into the top half of the lower deck. It’s a 12.6-inch IPS panel. Both support Asus’ active stylus and are touch-enabled. It’s difficult to describe what this looks like; once you see it, you’ll understand.
Last year’s ZenBook Pro Duo (of which this is a pared-down, portable version) offered the two-screen layout in a $2,500 workstation form, and other related concepts, such as Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, are due for delivery later this year. However, for the time being, the ZenBook Duo is the finest laptop for most people that require multiple displays.
Just make sure you need the extra screen because the trade-offs are substantial. Unlike the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro, or prior ZenBooks like the Pro 15, which have dabbled with touchscreen trackpads, the ScreenPad has a variety of apparent use cases that function as expected.
I usually kept distractions like Slack, Twitter, and Spotify on the bottom screen so they didn’t get in the way of my main job on the top, but I did save notes or other material down there for reference on occasion. While viewing Netflix, you can quickly message a buddy, edit a video with the timeline on the bottom, or stream a YouTube tutorial on the bottom while playing a game on the top.
I’m sure you’ll come up with your uses for this; it’s like having a mini-monitor built-in. The ScreenPad is small and has a very narrow aspect ratio, so it’s perfect for running streams in the background or catching a quick glimpse at Twitter; reading in-depth or doing any meaningful work on it is a bit tight.
You can access several useful functions that take advantage of the Duo’s form factor via the Asus’ Launcher menu, which you activate by tapping the left edge of the ScreenPad (as well as adjusting the ScreenPad’s brightness and lock and unlock the keyboard).
Quick Key (where you can access shortcuts to actions like cut, copy, and paste), Number Key (which opens a virtual Numpad), and Handwriting (where you can doodle with the stylus and the words will appear where your cursor is – it’s extremely accurate) are just a few of the apps available.
You can create “task groups” of up to five apps or tabs (two on the main screen and three on the ScreenPad) that you can open with a single click later. You may also add any apps you want to the Launcher’s main menu, making it a supplementary dock.
It’s just as simple to move programs from one screen to another as it is to move them to an external display. But there are a few cool tricks as well. When you click and drag a window, a little menu appears, giving you the choice to transfer it to the opposite display, pin it to the Launcher, or enlarge it to fill both screens.
Above the touchpad is a helpful button that swaps the contents of your top and bottom screens and automatically resizes them to fit. Task groups were the only ScreenPad feature I used frequently – I created a group of “work” tabs to open in the morning and another group of “leisure” tabs to open at night. Everything else, on the other hand, worked as expected.
The most important message here is that Asus has completed the task. The ScreenPad isn’t a toy; it’s a practical tool. For one thing, a screen on the keyboard deck is an uncomfortable location. The back of my neck was sore after a long day of using the Duo since you have to tilt your head downward to read anything on the ScreenPad.
Then there are compromises to be made to reach this form factor. For one thing, I had no idea how useful wrist rests are until I had to use this laptop, which lacked them. With my arms squished against my tummy, I felt like a T. rex using this on my couch.
There’s also the ErgoLift hinge, which elevates the ScreenPad at an angle from the ground. I generally don’t have trouble holding fold-under hinges in my lap, but this one is quite pointed. I ended up holding the Duo between my knees while working on the couch since it was so uncomfortable. You should always use this laptop on a table or desk rather than on your lap.
Then there’s the touchpad, which has been squeezed into the bottom right corner of the keyboard deck thanks to the ScreenPad. It’s pointless. It’s just too small (2.1 x 2.7 inches) to be used for precise movements or scrolling without slamming into the chassis.
(If you’re left-handed, good luck.) I don’t like using third-party peripherals in my reviews, but if I had just bought the Duo, I would have plugged in a mouse right away and never looked back. For much of my everyday work and practically all of my scrolling, I ended up utilizing Asus’ stylus (which is smooth and responsive).
I’m not sure if having a touchpad on this gadget is even necessary; I can’t imagine anyone utilizing it regularly. The Duo is a respectable machine in terms of regular “laptop stuff,” but it won’t blow you away – the ScreenPad, once again, is the reason to buy it.
I have the only currently available option, which costs $1,499 and includes an Intel Core i7-10510U quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU. My daily load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, Slack, YouTube, and other things ran smoothly on the system.
However, the midrange Comet Lake CPU isn’t ideal for transcoding videos or other demanding creative activities; most power users would prefer the ZenBook Pro Duo, which has an eight-core Core i9-9980HK processor and a more powerful graphics card.
Given that it has to power two screens, the Duo’s battery life was surprisingly impressive. With both panels at medium brightness, I achieved slightly over 10 hours of online browsing on the Battery Saver profile. Moreover, the machine remained reasonably cool throughout the testing (just the bottom got occasionally toasty). The fans only turn on when you’re gaming, and if they bother you, you can turn on a Silent profile in Asus’ control center.
A USB 3.1 Type-A port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack are on the right, while an HDMI, another USB 3.1 Type-A, a power port, and a USB-C are on the left. However, there is no Thunderbolt 3, which is an obvious omission on a $1,499 laptop, ScreenPad, or no ScreenPad.
Last but not least, the Duo isn’t a gaming machine. In terms of GPUs, the MX250 is near the bottom of the barrel. Many recent processors include integrated graphics (such as Intel’s Iris Plus, which debuts with the Ice Lake generation, and AMD’s new Vega graphics in the Ryzen 4000 mobile series), so buying laptops with inadequate graphics cards is becoming less and less of a necessity.
In my testing, this was reflected. On the maximum settings in Civilization VI, the duo only managed an average of 26 frames per second. (By lowering the frame rate to medium, I was able to get 40fps.) Those are better frame rates than you’d get with integrated graphics, but they’re not impressive.
To me, the MX250 feels like a half-measure – you either want a GPU or you don’t. You don’t need an MX250 if you don’t want a GPU; if you do, I doubt you’ll be satisfied with these results.
The ScreenPad comes in handy when gaming, especially if you want to have a reference guide open or watch a YouTube video. However, because clicking on the bottom display essentially tabs you out of the game — audio stops and you have to click back in to keep playing – using the ScreenPad for things like Discord chats or live-tweeting is a nuisance.
If you want to play games on two screens, you should wait for Asus‘ ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, a gaming-focused Duo that will be available later this year and can be configured with up to an RTX 2080 Super. Asus claims to be working with developers to offer dual-screen-specific interfaces and controls.
The truth is that I don’t think I’ll ever buy this computer. It was simply too uncomfortable to use because of the cramped touchpad, sharp hinge, and absence of wrist supports. The MX250’s slight advantage over integrated graphics isn’t enough to tip the scales in its favor.