Note: This feature was first published on 20 Nov 2020.
ASUS and their ZenBook variations never fails to confuse me. For instance, a ZenBook 14 laptop could have two or more different skus with just teeny weeny differences. Anyway, I digress. While ASUS could do a better job of segregating their line of notebooks, there's no arguing that their ZenBooks are some of the best around.
The ZenBook Flip S (UX371) shown here is the newest flagship and I got to take it for a quick spin. It's an engineering sample though, so I'll do a proper and full review once ASUS sends me a retail unit in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here's a first look at the Flip S (UX371).
The ZenBook Flip series is ASUS' range of convertible notebook. Essentially a 2-in-1 notebook, it's designed to function as both a notebook and a tablet, with an adaptable design that has the lightness and flexibility of a tablet but the efficiency and power of a notebook. It also happens to be one of the earliest notebooks to come with the Intel EVO certification. Here are its specs at a glance:-
|Processor||Intel 11th-gen Core i7-1165G7 (2.8GHz)|
|Memory||16GB (Dual Channel)|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Dimensions||305 x 211 x 13.9mm|
The specifications are certainly impressive and it will be interesting to see how the new Intel Iris Xe performs in 1080p gaming in such a svelte design - thermal throttling could hamper the IGP (integrated graphics processor) but we'll only be able to find out once I get my hands on the retail unit. In any case, gaming is secondary for a convertible notebook and what you really want to get out of it are efficiencies and responsiveness for your productivity and content creation, and it looks like this ZenBook Flip S with the new Tiger Lake CPU, 16GB and a generous 1TB of SSD storage will be more than adequate.
There's a very nice premium touch to the ZenBook Flip S - despite my engineering sample looking a little worse for wear (with visible scratches on the lid). I also discovered the metalic surface of the lids to be extremely susceptible to finger prints and smudges. Anyhow, the convertible is finished in a colour what ASUS calls 'Jade Black', with 'Red Copper' diamond-cut highlights, and special mention goes to the unique asymmetric-circle finish on the cover rippling out of the ASUS logo.
For connectivity, you get the usual suspects on such a slim notebook: a USB 3.2 Type-A, HDMI and two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. I do wish ASUS could have placed one USB-C on either side, rather than cramping two on the left side. Wi-Fi 6 standard is supported for wireless networking as well.
It may not be the lightest and it isn't, but what the ZenBook Flip S is is slim. For a convertible, it's less than half the height of the Dark Knight in his LEGO Minifig form.
The Flip S features a 360-degree ErgoLift hinge design that allows the display to be flipped to any position, according to your usage requirement. Turning it over completely transform into a tablet. ASUS also claims the hinge's durability has been tested for over 20,000 open/close cycles. If you're wondering why the screen is upside down, that's because my engineering sample was a little wonky, and I couldn't get it to go into Tablet mode when I flip the lid around. I'm expecting the retail version to have such kinks worked out.
The ErgoLift design will also tilt and lift up the keyboard automatically when the laptop is opened, making the notebook a little more ergonomic for typists. The same design also increases the ventilation space under the chassis for improved heat dissipation.
ASUS' notebooks have some of the best displays around and the Flip S (UX371) comes with a 13.3-inch 4K OLED Display with 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut and DisplayHDR 500 True Black. Content creators will also be happy to know that the display is PANTONE Validated as well, to provide the most precise colour accuracy available.
The keyboard on the Flip S not only has backlit, but the keys also feature a subtle 0.15 mm dish-shaped indentation and 1.4mm key travel. For the most part, the long key travel provided excellent feedback in the little work that I've used the notebook for - such as writing this article and Internet browsing - and certainly one of the best I've used of any notebooks.
The convertible also features the NumberPad 2.0, an LED-illuminated numeric keypad integrated in the touchpad that makes up for the lack of physical numeric keypads in compact notebooks. A single-touch sensor at the top-right of the touchpad turns NumberPad on or off, and swiping from the top left icon in any direction on the NumberPad 2.0 activates the Calculator app on the main display. It's not a killer feature by any means, and for what it's worth I seldom turn NumberPad on. But it is there, and I'm sure there will be others who find this more useful than it did for me.
The ZenBook Flip S (UX371) is available now at the ASUS Online Store and all authorized retailers and for S$2,498. Stay tuned to our full review and assessment in the coming weeks.