An elegant design and fine screen make this 2-in-1 laptop a pleasure to use, but battery life falls short.
The ZenBook Flip S is gorgeous. A ludicrous 10.9mm thick, and weighing 1.1kg, it’s almost preposterous that Asus squeezes in a 360-degree hinge and a full-fat Kaby Lake Core i5 processor. Could this be the ultimate 2-in-1 laptop?
It certainly looks the part: the all-metal aluminium alloy unibody is gorgeous. I love the sumptuous Royal Blue colour (you can choose a blander grey if you wish), while the diamond-cut golden edges only add to its regal style. Everywhere you look, there’s a touch of class. Upon opening the laptop’s lid you’ll notice the subtle backlit keys, which fittingly have a golden hue. The laptop’s hinge is well made, too, making it a painless experience to transform the laptop into a tablet. For a machine such as this, though, it’s usability that matters as much as style. And overall Asus has done an excellent job, starting with that keyboard. Asus proudly boasts 1mm key travel, which will be too little for some people’s tastes, but I found it a joy to type on.
It should be no surprise that the trackpad captures movement and pinch-to-zoom gestures flawlessly; of more interest is the bundled Asus Pen. I found this an excellent addition to the laptop, especially when used with Windows Ink. It has 1,024 pressure levels and can sustain a 10 to 300g force, which results in a stylus that allows you to draw or sketch. However, it doesn’t compare with the tilt-enabled 4096 point Microsoft Pen.
Those hoping for a high-resolution screen will be disappointed by the ZenBook’s 1,920 x 1,080 display. Nor can it match the Surface range for sRGB coverage, with our colorimeter returning an 84.6% measurement versus the Surface Book’s 96.4%. This will only trouble those needing high levels of colour accuracy, however, as the screen’s 1,321 contrast ratio and 0.2cd/m2 black level means it’s great in general use and can even cope with dark scenes in movies. It isn’t the brightest display around, mind: I measured 326cd/m2 peak brightness, versus 488cd/m2 from the HP Spectre x2.
Unusually for a consumer-focused laptop, you’ll find a fingerprint reader on the right-hand side of the laptop – and it’s refreshingly fast too. Thanks to an infrared webcam system, you can use Windows Hello instead, which is also a fast process. What’s surprising, though, is that the camera only shoots at 640 x 480. That’s beyond poor for a premium laptop. Elsewhere, two USB-C ports lurk on either side of the laptop, both of which support power, data and display (up to 4K). There’s a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack to the left, and a volume rocker and power button on the right-hand side. For wireless, there’s a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter and Bluetooth 4.1.
Underneath the laptop, you’ll find two Harmon Kardon-optimised speakers. These are incredibly good, especially considering the laptop’s slim dimensions. Through the AudioWizard app by icePower, you can quickly toggle between sound profiles, or set up your own through the Advanced section.
So what do you get in terms of power? The answer is a respectable amount – more than enough to handle everyday tasks – but not enough to satisfy anyone who uses demanding applications such as video editors or Adobe’s CC suite, say. The Intel Core i5-7200U processor and 8GB of RAM were only enough to push the ZenBook Flip S to 39 in our benchmarks, despite the presence of a speedy 512GB PCIe SSD.
Its Intel HD Graphics 620 can handle games, scoring 53fps and 26fps respectively in the Manhattan and Car Chase tests in the GFXBench benchmark. That beats the HP Spectre x2 (42.6fps) and means that if you want to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on low settings, you can do so.
The Asus remained cool under duress. It hit a maximum temperature of 71°C, while the HP Spectre x2 reached 96°C. This, combined with Asus’ claims of up to 11.5 hours of battery life, meant I had high hopes for its longevity; in reality, it lasted a mediocre 5hrs 27mins in our video-rundown tests. It won’t last a day of heavy usage.
It’s this that stops us from giving the ZenBook Flip S an award, along with that poor webcam, but if you can cope with those limitations then its many plus points mean it’s still a great little convertible laptop.
Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370UA
“… if you can cope with those limitations then its many plus points mean it’s still a great little convertible laptop.”
Dual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U processor • Intel HD Graphics 620 • 8GB RAM • 13.3in IPS touchscreen display, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution • 256GB PCIe 3 SSD • VGA webcam • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.1 • 2 x USB-C; Windows 10 Home • 39Wh battery • 313 x 218 x 10.9mm (WDH) • 1.1kg • 1yr RTB warranty