In this article:
- Folding laptops have joined the folding gadget craze!
- Folding laptops aren’t actually laptops, they are giant folding tablets.
- The Asus ZenBook 17 Fold is the best option we have right now for a folding laptop.
It seems that folding gadgets are all the rage these days, especially with folding phones. I did an article a while back about whether folding phones are the future, and in that article, I deemed that the current folding phones are not durable enough and offer little to no real-life benefit to using them, but since I wrote that article, they are transitioning from a gimmick and novelty into actual products.
The thing is, foldable phones were a bit of a hard sell since people mostly saw them as a gimmicky marketing campaign where companies were just showing what they can do. But I think foldable laptops are a better idea than folding smartphones.
So today, we’ll go over some of the benefits of folding laptops as well as some of the downsides that might make it impractical like folding phones, and finally, to give the best outlook on what folding laptops can do, our main topic for today is to take a look at the best folding laptop that you can get in 2022, the Asus ZenBook 17 Fold!
Asus ZenBook 17 Fold Review
- CPU: Intel Core i7-1250U
- GPU: Intel Iris Xe
- RAM: Up to 16GB
- Storage: 1TB M.2 SSD
We’ve seen a lot of fancy laptops with fold-out screens and detachable keyboards over the years, especially with Asus, but the ZenBook Fold might be the fanciest yet.
The Asus ZenBook 17 Fold is a 12.5” laptop at first glance, but it folds out and turns into a giant 17” tablet when you need it to. It’s possible with a flexible display and a chassis with an innovative hinge and a detachable keyboard that allows it to be used in multiple layouts and configurations. It also has decent hardware power inside and an eye-catching design that looks professional without being too showy, which is something unique to say for a laptop this innovative.
To get a better understanding of this laptop, let’s break it down into several points to review.
The design is the main highlight of this laptop, and since this is more like a foldable tablet, you’d want something durable, and this doesn’t disappoint.
For starters it has a magnesium alloy chassis and it’s fairly sturdy, to say the least, on top of that, this laptop has some fairly nice accents like the faux leather which is attached to the chassis and wraps over the hinge, and it also has a bit of frosted glass which also displays the new Asus logo which oddly looks like the Starfleet symbol from Star Trek, but hey, the logo shines the light that hits it, producing a really cool effect.
The hinge on the ZenBook Fold is a bit sophisticated, but it’s similar to the Motorola Razr’s hinge design which has sliding components that helps the display fold without putting any tension on the display which might cause it to tear. The thing is, the hinge is a bit safer and easier to pull off with a laptop or tablet this big since you don’t need to sharply fold it. But yes, you will still see a crease on its display.
Like Samsung’s foldable phones, this laptop’s hinge was also tested by opening and closing the device 30,000 times, and they even stated that this laptop is certified with a US Military-Grade Durability badge. But no matter what certification they say this thing has, I can understand if you take the durability with a grain of salt. But in its defense though, with laptops, you’ll open and close it less than a foldable smartphone so I already think that it’s better in terms of durability.
One last thing I want to mention is that this laptop has a kickstand on the back which you can use when you unfold the display and use it as a tablet or as a 17” monitor. The kickstand works well for how small it is, but I wish it was a bit wider.
The ZenBook Fold uses a 17” flexible OLED display with a resolution of 2.5K (2560×1920) and a 4:3 aspect ratio, and touch support. When used as a normal laptop with the keyboard, half of the screen turns off and you’re left with a 12.5” with a resolution of 1920×1280 and a 3:2 aspect ratio. Honestly, for a 17” display, I would’ve liked a 4K resolution, but I guess this would be perfect for the lower spec chipset it has.
Although the display might not be the highest-res out there, it is color accurate with a 100% P3 color gamut coverage. It doesn’t end there since this display also has Dolby Vision support, making this revolutionary device perfect for photo and video editing, and of course, HDR content consumption.
It also has a color sensor which is a nice surprise, it’ll work like Apple’s True-Tone which adjusts the screen’s color temperature to the ambient lighting. Since this is an OLED, let’s not forget the deep blacks and great contrast ratios that your eyes will just thank you for.
With a great display and design, you can only expect to have a great performance as well, and that is the case here, but while it’s capable, it’s not meant for heavy gaming and heavy video editing.
Under the hood, the ZenBook Fold has an Intel I7-1250U with Intel Iris Xe graphics which is a mobile processor that’s built for power efficiency, but fortunately, this processor is still fairly capable of handling moderate to heavy workloads. It also has 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and a 1TB M.2 NVME SSD so you can multitask with ease and store a lot of files on this computer.
This laptop also has a 75-Whr battery and together with the efficient chipset, the battery life lasts around 8-11 hours, which is not bad at all for a laptop with a 17” OLED display.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Another thing that’s exciting with the ZenBook Fold is the keyboard, it magnetically attaches to the laptop on top of one half of the display, and when you do put the keyboard on top, half of the display automatically shuts down so you can have a more traditional laptop experience. Or you can detach the keyboard and fold out the laptop to have a desktop-like experience.
In terms of keyboard quality, it is good; it’s full-sized, fairly sturdy considering how thin this is, and it has good key travel. It’s comfortable to use and friendly for fast typists.
The trackpad is not as great though, it’s a bit rattly and you just know that the mechanism is poorly made.
On top of it all, the keyboard and trackpad have to be charged separately which is a huge bummer. I wish Asus just made something similar to the iPad’s Smart Connector to at least charge the keyboard and trackpad.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None…
… but oftentimes better than a master of one. This quote couldn’t fit this laptop any better, and this is the reason why folding laptops are revolutionary. I mean we had 2-in-1 laptops for a long time now, it fuses the best of a laptop and a tablet. But now, with folding laptops, things can get a lot more exciting, because now you can use a foldable laptop like the Asus ZenBook Fold in three ways; a laptop, a tablet, and a desktop, and on top of that, despite having a 17” screen, it folds up into a form factor that’s smaller than modern ultraportable laptops.
Let’s elaborate on those three use cases, shall we?
The laptop mode can work in three ways, first, you have to open the laptop at a 90° angle, or like you would with any other laptop. From that, you can use the laptop without the keyboard and trackpad and use touch controls and Window’s on-screen keyboard. Or you can (and probably should) use it with the keyboard and trackpad, which is the better choice if you want to prolong the life of your flexible OLED display.
Another way to use laptop mode is to use the keyboard and trackpad but not on top of the display.
Tablet mode sounds exactly what it is, you can just toss the keyboard away and use the laptop like a tablet with touch controls. You can even fold the display slightly for Book Mode. But, for a laptop that weighs 3.3 pounds (without the keyboard), it’s definitely heavy to be a tablet.
Last and the most exciting mode of foldable laptops is the Desktop mode. In this mode, you’ll need to use the keyboard accessory or if you want, you can also use a keyboard and mouse of your choice. For the display, you will need to unfold it, use the kickstand, and then you can now use it as a monitor. My friends, this is just the best thing that foldable laptops can do, and that is essentially bringing a whole Desktop setup on a package smaller than most laptops.
Bet or Fold?
Like in poker, should you go ahead and invest or should you save your cash for another time? I’d say it’s pretty safe to invest in a folding laptop today, especially the Asus ZenBook 17 Fold… if money isn’t a problem for you, yes, they are expensive for now. In a few years, these laptops should get more affordable, but if you prefer to get more things done, I think a traditional or a 2-in-1 laptop is better for most of you.