Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED hands-on: Here’s the real potential

Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED hands-on: Here’s the real potential

The folding-screen laptop wasn’t something I thought I could get excited for, but after seeing Asus’ new ZenBook 17 Fold OLED at IFA, I’ve started to change my mind. Somewhat unimaginably, Asus created a functional, practical even, 17-inch tablet that folds in half and becomes a portable 12-inch laptop. It’s eye-wateringly expensive, but after four generations of expensive Galaxy Folds, would you expect anything more?

Incredible resizing zenbook

The ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is a nice piece of kit as a laptop, but its massive folding screen sets it apart from almost everything else. The only exception is the Lenovo X1 Fold, first announced in 2019, which has a similar, if smaller form factor. Lenovo just released a refined version of the X1 Fold at IFA 2022, with a bigger screen and other upgrades.

Asus’s concept is similar to Lenovo’s: a large foldable display that tilts down the middle, an adjustable kickstand for when you need to steer it, and a slim magnetic keyboard for text entry and navigation.

Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

In tablet mode, when the screen is fully unfolded, the ZenBook 17 Fold offers a massive 17.3-inch touchscreen for playing and working. It’s a nice and bright OLED panel, with great contrast ratio and enough pixels to make everything look crisp. While there are plenty of other 17-inch laptops out there, you just can’t get enough of this size in the huge, productivity-boosting 4:3 format.

Read also: The best foldable phones you can get in 2022

There is a crease running down the middle which is easily noticeable when you look at it from one side, but it mostly disappears when you look at it from the front. Your eyes naturally focus on the picture on the screen, rather than the subtle distortion from the creases. It’s like looking at the Fold 4, Flip 4, or any other foldable phone – the creases just aren’t a problem.

While you can use the ZenBook 17 Fold as a tablet, it’s more pleasant to treat it as a portable monitor

Unfortunately, Asus hasn’t made the leap to ultrathin glass as Samsung did for its foldables. The cover layer of the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is made of glossy plastic, which feels less premium and durable than glass. It also picks up fingerprints as if there is no tomorrow, which becomes a problem when you need to bend and unfold the screen again and again.

ASUS ZenBook 17 Fold OLED 9 Tablet Mode

Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

While you can use the ZenBook 17 Fold as a tablet, it’s more pleasant to treat it as a portable monitor (or all-in-one PC). Simply open the kickstand, prop it on a table, and use the keyboard and/or touchscreen to interact with the screen like you would with a desktop computer.

Asus said the hinge inside the ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is rated for 30,000 open-and-close cycles. Based on the manufacturer’s calculations, it should ensure durability for at least five years of average use. Company representatives warned that users should treat the device with caution – it’s not a harsh machine that you can abuse without effect. It’s not just the hinge you need to worry about – as we’ve seen with other foldables in the past, debris can accumulate under the flexible screen. Due to its sheer size, Asus’s foldable laptop seems particularly susceptible to this vulnerability.

ASUS ZenBook 17 Fold OLED 12 Open in Laptop Mode

Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

Fold the screen up and you have a compact 12.5-inch laptop. You can position the bundled wireless keyboard on top of the bottom half of the screen. The device detects this and optimizes the UI to use only the upper half of the display. In this mode, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED behaves like a normal small laptop. Alternatively, you can use the device in touchscreen mode. The content “flows” from the vertical half of the screen to the horizontal half. You can bring up the virtual keyboard to type, or you can scroll through documents and web pages in the two halves of the screen. Personally, I found this mode crappy, though I can’t deny the usefulness of being able to fit more content on the screen.

It’s a shame that the ZenBook 17 Fold isn’t stylus-friendly, as the plastic screen isn’t strong enough to withstand a sharp stylus tip.

Read also: best laptops you can buy in 2022

Design & Manufacture: Mostly good

For such a flexible device (pun intended), it was important for Asus to get the design and ergonomics right. It’s a bit of a mixed bag in my experience. The ZenBook 17 Book feels classy and reassuringly solid in the hand, especially when folded and closed. It looks like a nice organizer tied to leather; I could see an executive whipping it up during a boardroom meeting. It weighs around 1.5kg, but that’s not a lot considering the 17-inch screen.

ASUS ZenBook 17 Folds OLED 15 Top Closed With Front Logo

Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

While the build and design are generally on point, I noticed a few flaws. For one, it’s not easy to quickly unwrap and unwrap the whole contraption. Or at least it wasn’t clear and intuitive to me, in the brief time I spent with the device. The kickstand on the back also doesn’t inspire confidence. It’s small and attractive-looking—it’ll work when using the screen on a desktop or other flat surface, but it won’t be very stable on a lap or on your couch.

The ZenBook 17 Book feels classy and reassuringly solid in the hand

The Bluetooth keyboard is generously sized or at least as big as you might expect from a 12-inch form factor. It attaches magnetically to the bottom of the tablet, but you can also use it as a standalone keyboard. It has a slight flexing problem when you place it above the bottom half of the screen.

ASUS ZenBook 17 Fold OLED 19 Ports and Side View

Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

Overall, Asus has done a good job of bringing the ZenBook 17 Fold Up as a market ready consumer product. Just remember that this is a first-generation, second-of-its-kind device. It’s not perfect, just like Samsung’s original Galaxy Fold was flawed in its first iteration.

valuable potential

Beyond its size-changing capabilities, the Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is a capable laptop, if not a stellar one. You get an Intel Core i7-1250U CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 1TB of storage, and 16GB of RAM. Content consumption The performance is adequate for a laptop or office computer, but it’s not a good choice for gaming or video editing. Battery life is surprisingly solid considering the screen size and limited space, at around 10 hours. Port selection is minimal – you get two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack.

Asus ZenBook 17 Fold oled.jpg Specs and Features

Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

The Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is a valuable piece of equipment, starting at $3,500 in the US and €4,000 in Europe. You’ll have to pay this hefty price to be on the cutting edge of computing, but is it worth it? Not really, at least not for most people. I’m pretty sure Asus doesn’t care, though the ZenBook 17 Fold isn’t a mass-market product. It’s other things: a road opener, a sight demonstrator, a statement of interest, and a shot across the bow toward the competition.

The ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is a road opener, a vision demonstrator, a statement of interest, and a shot across the bow toward the competition.

The short amount of time I’ve spent with the Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED has convinced me that this form factor has immense potential. While the product itself sacrifices a bit too much, especially for its hefty price tag, Asus’s foldable laptop is undeniably good. The ability to expand a small laptop into a pretty big screen is compelling. Asus now only needs a few generations to refine the idea and bring the price down.


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