ASUS held its "The Incredible Unfolds" event yesterday, and it unveiled the world's first 17" foldable laptop, the Zenbook 17 Fold.
Foldable displays are seemingly here to stay. With each iteration, mobile devices that use the technology are improving, and companies are finding ways to make the folding mechanism neater, as well as finding ways to use the foldability practically as well.
ASUS has now moved foldable displays from the realm of small mobile devices to laptops with the Zenbook 17 Fold, a new way of thinking about a portable computer.
You see, the Zenbook 17 Fold can behave in a few different ways. It can be a 17" laptop, a 12.5" notebook with either a real or a virtual keyboard, a tablet, and a digital book.
The ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold in Tablet mode. Image: ASUS.
The system is highly compact when it is folded up, weighing just 1.6kg and at 12.5" diagonal and 17.5mm thick it will fit very easily into a small carry bag. Before I delve into more detail, here are the specs.
Zenbook 17 Fold specification
- Two laptop sizes on one device (12.5" and 17.3")
- 2560 x 1920 resolution in unfold mode, 1920x1080 in folded
- ScreenXpert for expanding the display across devices
- 12th gen Intel Core i7 U series CPU
- Intel Irix Xe graphics
- 75 Wh battery
- Thunderbolt 4
- Charge via USB-C
- Harmon Kardon certified speakers
- Dolby Atmos-certified
- WiFi 6E 802.11ax
- Dolby Vision with Pantone validation
- HD infrared camera
- Folding mechanism tested to 30,000 cycles.
Okay, there's a bit to digest here. The 12th gen Intel Core i7 U series processor is one of the latest in Intel's range that has been designed specifically for next-generation foldable laptops. These are very power frugal chips, drawing a maximum of 29w in Turbo mode. This new generation of chips from Intel is aimed squarely at taking the fight to companies like Apple. We'll summarise everything from Intel in another article, but to outline, the Core i7 U features 10-cores with up to 12 threads, two performance cores and eight efficiency cores.
What we should see from the Zenbook 17 Fold is a system that can perform different kinds of tasks quite well whilst retaining good battery life.
The Zenbook 17 Fold in use as a desktop. Image: ASUS.
Design-wise, the 17 Fold looks the business. It's constructed from magnesium alloy and includes an integrated faux leather kickstand. The OLED display is capable of 100% DCI-P3 colour reproduction with up to 60Hz refresh rate, a 0.2ms response time, and 500 nits peak brightness. In addition, it is certified by Pantone for accurate colour reproduction. It also has a TÜV Rheinland eye-care certification for blue light levels.
Last year the MacBook Pro won plaudits for its sound system, but ASUS has also been working on great mobile sound itself. It features a quad-speaker arrangement that has been certified by Harmon Kardon and can deliver a mobile Dolby Atmos experience. In addition, a new Smart Amplifier has been designed so the system can provide high sound levels without distortion.
The ASUS ErgoSense keyboard that comes with the system is compact, but has also been designed for comfort, with a 19.05mm key pitch, and long travel for a positive typing experience.
For connectivity, the new WiFi 6E should result in much more reliable wifi connections for networks that support it. Two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports might sound stingy, but remember, this is designed for portability and speed on the move rather than as a desktop alternative.
The Zenbook 17 Fold looks like a solid entry into the foldable laptop space. The next-gen Intel chips should ensure enough computing power to handle varying tasks while remaining energy frugal. This might not be an editing powerhouse, but it's a fair bet that it will be able to handle some on-the-move editing tasks with ease.
I have to admit that when foldable screens first came onto the scene, I wasn't convinced they had much practical use. However, now manufacturers are finding ways to use them. The idea of making a 17" laptop small enough to fit into a compact bag is a pretty neat use of the tech, particularly when it is combined with what appears to be excellent display performance and efficient processing.
As to how it performs across the board in imaging tasks, we'll have to wait and see. There's no word yet on price, although it will likely be a premium. Find out more on the ASUS website.