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ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review: A first-gen foldable that delivers promise

ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review: A first-gen foldable that delivers promise

ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review: A first-gen foldable that delivers promise
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By Pihu Yadav  Nov 10, 2022 1:22 PM IST (Published)

The device goes on sale today and will be available on almost all major offline and online retailers.

It only happens sometimes that we see innovation in the tech world and can experience it first-hand. The recent "trend" that the tech industry seems to be following is the folding devices, which started with Samsung's Galaxy Fold in 2019. Until recently, the trend was only limited to smaller screens, but it is slowly spilling over to bigger screens.

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Last month ASUS announced the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702). A 17.3-inch folding screen that can be used at per user's convenience. I had two weeks to get acquainted with the device, and here is what I think of it.
The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED has a 17.3-inch touch-screen panel with a 2K resolution and two 12.5-inch displays with an FHD display when folded. It is powered by Intel's 12th gen i7 processor with 16GB DDR5 RAM and 1TB of storage.
It also comes with ASUS ErgoSense Bluetooth, which snaps right on the bottom half of the screen when folded like a laptop. The size is just perfect for people who are always on the go. Besides that, you can also unfold the screen and use it in all its glory and use the keyboard, giving you the feel of a big-screen desktop.
The screen weighs about 1.5 kg without the keyboard and 1.8 kg with it. In both cases, it is lightweight and portable. 
What good is a screen without its display? And in this case, it's something of a dream show. The colours are sharp and bright. The OLED panel makes the viewing experience worth it; I have honestly never felt so good staring at an Excel sheet. ASUS said they developed the folding OLED panel with BOE, and boy! It has delivered.
To avoid screen burn-in, which can happen when OLED panels are left stationary for too long, ASUS has also added features like Pixel shift technology, default shipping in dark mode, unique screensavers and more.
The design of the device is also very clever. The dual hinges not only make for a crease-free experience but also provide steadiness to the screen. It is well-built and is rated military-grade MIL-STD 810H for durability. It also comes with a built-in kickstand which comes in handy when using the screen as a monitor. 
It is impossible not to credit ASUS for how much thought the company has put in to make a large screen portable without too much hustle. Even the 5.5mm keyboard is designed to fit right between the fold and becomes a part of the laptop when you want to carry it around.
While it is practical, and I did not have trouble working on the keyboard daily, the key travel could be a problem for someone with bigger fingers. The arrow keys are tiny, and that's where I struggled, especially if I was playing games.
That said, you can always pair the screen with a keyboard of your choice. It could limit you in terms of being unable to use the screen as a laptop and can make portability an issue, but compromises will have to be made somewhere. 
The other commendable feature of the Zenbook 17 Fold is its sound that comes out of the quad-speaker system. Usually, with laptops, the sound becomes a secondary thing and pairing a speaker becomes a muscle reflex if you consume content.
The Zenbook 17 Fold (brands need to start coming up with nicknames for these devices) has sound by Harman/Kardon and Dolby vision atmos. It has one of the clearest and loudest audios on a laptop — if you want to call it that. The speakers are placed on the sides of the panel, making them front-facing, which adds to the audio experience.
Once fully charged, the device lasted me almost a nine-hour shift at work, with a smooth, no-heating, no sound experience. The Bluetooth keyboard is also chargeable and comes with a USB-Type C port. Once charged, it can last you a week, depending on the usage. The device also comes with two USB-Type C ports, the only I/O ports, and a 3.5 mm jack for earphones (you have to love that).
While the overall experience was smooth for me, I did experience a few lags and glitches here and there. Sometimes, the display would have trouble figuring out what orientation it was being used in — either from horizontal to vertical or while folding and unfolding. It would get stuck, and sometimes, it would take its time and figure itself out. Other times, I had to try the old "switch off and back on" trick.
This could come as a bumper for gamers, to not being able to use such a big screen, but it is what it is. Without a dedicated graphics card, the Zenbook 17 Fold just isn't built for heavy gaming. Light gaming runs without a problem on the device. I tried running Witcher 2, Grad Theft Auto IV and Asphalt 8, and the last one ran smoothly with zero issues. The other two, extremely huge and heavy games, saw lags while performing simple tasks like walking or driving around.
In conclusion, the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is a success for a first-gen product. ASUS wanted to develop a functional screen that could fold in half and make big displays portable, and they did. This is not a product that needs to reflect perfection; it is a product that reflects promise. Will I pay Rs 3,29,990 for it? No. But for someone who is always on the go and needs a portable bigger screen, something like this could be a good investment.
The device goes on sale today and will be available on almost all major offline and online retailers.
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