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Asus ZenBook 14 UX434FL review: A solid ultraportable, with added ScreenPad

Closing yr I reviewed the Asus ZenBook Professional 15 UX580GD, a 15-inch pc with a secondary touchscreen doubling up at the trackpad. This innovation, the ScreenPad, became a formidable pc into one thing that stood out from the group. 

Asus has labored on the idea that, launching 13-, 14- and 15-inch laptops with an up to date ScreenPad. I used to be despatched the 14-inch ZenBook 14 UX434FL, which is to be had in two variations in the United Kingdom: with a Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD (£1,099 inc. VAT; £915.83 ex. VAT); and with a Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (£1,299 inc. VAT). I seemed on the high-end Core i7 model.

The ScreenPad could be the ZenBook 14 UX434FL’s headline function, however there is a lot else to love. This can be a pc with nice construct, an excellent speaker setup and a few really nice inner specs. 

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The 14-inch ZenBook 14 UXX434FL runs on Eighth-generation Core i5 or Core i7 processors with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of SSD garage. It comes with discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics and weighs 1.26kg. The ScreenPad purposes as a touchpad and a moment display.


Pictures: Asus

Asus has overhauled the overall design of its ScreenPad-equipped laptops. The ZenBook 14 UX434FL is styled in Asus’s feature blue and gold, with the gold showing because the speaker grille above the keyboard segment, the important thing markings, port and connector markings, and the Asus branding at the lid, which has the corporate’s acquainted concentric-circles end. 

The deep blue of the majority of the chassis seems to be good, and must end up similarly appropriate within the place of job, at house or in a espresso store.

The construct is powerful: this pc has gone through drop, vibration, altitude and temperature checks, and meets MIL-STD-810G. Even so, a protecting sleeve could be helpful to stay the lid scratch-free. It weighs 1.26kg, which is completely appropriate for a 14-inch pc, and its energy brick is small and light-weight. It fitted effectively into even my smallest (15-litre) backpack, so transportation must no longer be an issue.
 
The display is an excessively glossy and reflective 14-inch LED backlit touchscreen with FHD (1,920 x 1,080) answer. I had to wipe finger-marks from the display slightly ceaselessly, and am no longer the best fan of reflective displays most often, however the color replica right here is excellent — unquestionably excellent sufficient for gazing films. I labored very fortunately with the display at 40% brightness, too, so there may be lots  of illumination in the back of it. Viewing angles are excellent. This isn’t a 360-degree rotating pc, alternatively: the display pushes again a good approach past 90 levels, however will get nowhere close to flat on a table or desk. 

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With its second-generation ScreenPad laptops, Asus has paid extra consideration to the display’s bezel. What we now have here’s a ‘frameless NanoEdge’ design, for which Asus claims a 92% screen-to-body ratio. The bezels throughout are unquestionably small, and far smaller than at the ZenBook 14’s predecessor. The highest bezel is essentially deeper as it properties the IR digital camera that helps Home windows Hi biometric facial popularity.

Watch out for the headline claims right here. Within the on-line specifications, Asus says there’s a 2.9mm-thin facet bezel and three.3mm backside bezel, using a footnote to give an explanation for that “The mentioned width of the facet bezel is the space between the brink of the non-active display show space and the interior fringe of the case. If the case width is integrated, the facet bezel width is 4mm. The mentioned width of the ground bezel is the space between the brink of the non-active display show space and the visual fringe of the show when the pc is opened to 90°.”

So, the bezel is thicker than the preliminary knowledge would possibly counsel. Nonetheless, it is impressively slender. Asus does not point out the higher bezel, which I measured at 8mm to the outer fringe of the chassis.

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The keyboard is a full-size backlit unit with 1.4mm of key trip.


Symbol: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The keys have 1.4mm of trip and are effectively springy. They ‘thunk’ slightly than click on, and there is a slightly hole feeling in the back of them. The Fn key row features a facility for toggling the ScreenPad in addition to a shortcut to a snipping instrument. The arrow keys are large however shallow, whilst the Input secret’s two keys large however just one key deep. None of this is a matter, and I used to be in a position to touch-type conveniently at my standard velocity.

ScreenPad

Underneath the keyboard, as a substitute of a conventional touchpad, we now have the ScreenPad. This measures five.65 inches around the diagonal — very similar to many smartphones. It incorporates a 2,160-by-1,080-pixel IPS show, and a tumbler quilt makes it much less at risk of finger smears than the principle display. It comprises same old touchpad options and will deal with four-finger good gestures.

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The ScreenPad will run applets from Asus and 3rd events, or you’ll be able to drop apps from the principle display into it. An icon on the backside toggles the ScreenPad into same old touchpad mode.


Pictures: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The ScreenPad has its personal settings space the place you’ll be able to keep an eye on brightness, set a background symbol, transfer between resolutions (2,160 x 1,080 and 1,000 x 500 pixels), or even exchange the refresh charge (50Hz or 60Hz). 

The ScreenPad instrument has had an replace since its first day trip and is now at model 2.zero. There are a selection of pre-installed applets. Fast Key permits you to automate ceaselessly used keyboard sequences. Handwriting means that you can write onto the ScreenPad with a finger and input textual content into an app or internet web page. Despite the fact that it’s going to autocorrect, I discovered this a lot slower and not more handy than typing. NumKey means that you can input numbers into apps, however does not do any calculating — there is a separate Calculator app for that. 

Additional apps supply keep an eye on and enter options for Phrase, Excel and PowerPoint, and there may be MyAsus — an Asus application app. 3rd-party apps are to be had, and Spotify was once preconfigured on my overview pc. You’ll be able to additionally drag apps onto this space, making it simple to release them at velocity proper into ScreenPad or from the ScreenPad launcher onto the desktop in case you desire.

A sweep of the ScreenPad takes you to a brand new display the place you’ll be able to transfer desktops or create a brand new one.

ScreenPad can be used as a moment show. Any app may also be dropped down into the ScreenPad, the place it’s going to proceed to serve as. As an example it’s good to stay social media feeds there whilst running on a file, or have a video operating to look at whilst doing one thing else. 

There are some tiny tappable controls on a navigation bar that runs alongside the ground of the ScreenPad. Such a means that you can toggle into strange touchpad mode. You’ll be able to additionally make a two-second dip into touchpad mode with a three-finger faucet. That is to hand as a result of if you are the use of ScreenPad to view apps it can not serve as as a typical touchpad.

All over trying out I discovered the ScreenPad intriguing, however best intermittently helpful — and now and again frustrating. Probably the most stressful factor is having to keep in mind to modify into touchpad mode to do same old touchpad keep an eye on. A long term take a look at — for a couple of months — is had to decide whether or not ScreenPad has actual application as an on a regular basis function.

ScreenPad and battery existence

What is positive is that the ScreenPad drains the battery. I did two four-hour managed checks to measure how battery fared with and with out the ScreenPad on. On each events the principle display was once at its really helpful 40% brightness for battery-based running, and that was once lots vibrant sufficient. 

For one take a look at length I had the ScreenPad on and labored into apps, listened to streamed song, and used the internet in addition to the ScreenPad. The battery tired from 100% to 45%.

For some other four-hour length I used the similar regime with ScreenPad switched off, and the battery tired from 100% to 55%. 

The Harman Kardon audio system produce sound that is wealthy and deep, and not using a distortion at best quantity. They’re completely loud sufficient to push presentation audio throughout a gathering room. There’s at all times extra to invite for from pc audio system, after all, and on this case a coloration much less treble could be excellent. I would additionally like some granular controls for various environments. Nonetheless, what is on be offering is completely excellent sufficient for each paintings and recreational use circumstances. 

The 2 variations of the ZenBook 14 UX434FL these days to be had vary in best 3 respects. The Core i5-8265U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD model prices £1,099 (inc. VAT,) whilst the Core i7-8565U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD model reviewed right here prices £1,299 (inc. VAT). Discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics come as same old.

Asus has integrated an inexpensive array of ports and connectors. The proper edge has a USB 2.zero port, a three.5mm headset jack and — a unprecedented sight — a MicroSD card reader. The proper edge has the round-pin energy jack, a full-size HDMI port, a USB three.1 port and a USB-C Gen 2 port. 

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Symbol: Asus

Conclusions 

The ZenBook 14 UX434FL is value critical attention if you are in search of a succesful, light-weight but tough 14-inch pc. The ScreenPad would possibly or would possibly not enchantment, however do not let that distract you from the remainder of what is on be offering right here.

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