Last September was ASUS’ 30th Anniversary and to celebrate, the brand released a full line of new drool-worthy Zenbooks as well as a limited-edition 30th Anniversary white and rose gold unit (that I had wanted to impulse buy on sight). The lineup featured several laptops with double screens—mainly, the stars of the show—the Zenbook Duo and Pro Duo. But not to be missed are the Zenbook 13/14/15 that feature the improved ScreenPad 2.0. As I currently type on my old laptop, stuck in traffic from hell, let me take you back to the days when I had the Zenbook 14 with me during two of my busiest work weeks ever.

Workaholic

I will first confess that I am the kind of person who gets slightly stressed out when my battery percentage drops below 50%. And for the purpose of testing out the battery life of the Zenbook 14, I forced myself to leave its charger at home (oh, the horror) and use it for a whole hectic work day with the WiFi on the entire time without plugging it in. And for extra anxiety, I left the keyboard backlights and the Screenpad on about ¾ of the time, too. This is why I say with no exaggeration at all, that the Zenbook 14 is amazing. I got nearly 12 hours (the same as the advertised number) of juice out of it. So, if you don’t like carrying the charger with you when you have to work out of office, this alone should be a great selling point. Plus, charging it when you finally have to doesn’t take up a lot of time.

Double trouble

While the Zenbook Duo and Pro Duo feature secondary touch screens right below the main screen, the Zenbook 14 gets a 5.65” glass-covered FHD+ touch-capacitive screen where the trackpad should be. You can toggle this if you want to save battery and keep it on trackpad mode only or you can turn it completely off as well. I find the ScreenPad 2.0 best used when you’re using a physical mouse because you won’t be able to use it as a trackpad if you’re going to be using it on Screenpad mode.

Designed to help productivity while working, the screenpad has a clean interface and lets you do a number of things—such as quickly execute complex keyboard sequences, act as a number pad for data input, handwrite, or be a small second screen for your media like Netflix, Spotify, and other supported apps. Thanks to the glass cover, it is ultra-smooth and responsive to use both as a trackpad and screenpad. I also tried using the number pad feature to input some prices on excel and maybe it’s the learning curve or the feel of keys clacking, but I still prefer using hard keys for rapid data input. The idea and design behind the Screenpad make sense on paper, but when it comes to actually working on it, the user flow isn’t intuitive. There is a bit of learning and adjusting required for the user in order to maximize its productivity features. When I worked on it, I barely used it on Screenpad mode but instead switched to trackpad mode—which is the most logical use for it especially when you’re working on field.

Made for More

Would you believe that the Zenbook 14 is just a little longer than an A4 page? And get ready for some mind-twisting—it’s being called the world’s most compact 14” laptop that is smaller than most 13.3” laptops—don’t ask me how. It sports a nearly bezel-less, four-sided frameless NanoEdge display with a 95% screen-to-body ratio so you won’t feel any lack of screen here. Another design innovation was being able to still squeeze in a camera along the minimal top bezel. Running on Windows 10, it features Cortana and Alexa and can use facial recognition to unlock the device which worked really well, even in low-light settings.

It also doesn’t skimp on ports. It features a USB type-C port for superfast USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfers; it can also accommodate type-C earphones. There is also a USB 3.1 type-A port, a USB 2.0 Type-A port, a full sized HDMI port, and a micro-SD card reader.

It easily slips into a handbag, which was a big plus for me because honestly, it’s not always fun to lug around a laptop bag/backpack especially when you want to dress up a little.

But don’t be fooled by these compact machines, they pack in powerful 8th generation Intel cores and with NVIDIA GPUs up to the GeForce MX250. While built mainly for daily work, it can handle light graphics rendering and games like Outlast and Left for Dead with no issues. Its 16GB of LPDDR3 or DDR4 RAM ensures that it stays lag and hang free even when running multiple tasks in the background and its fast SSD with PCle 3.0×4 interface also ensures that files are transferred rapidly.

Travel-friendly

If you often find yourself working in unorthodox places like in public transportation or need to quickly type up something while out, the Zenbook 14 is a great partner for you. Its keyboard is a treat to type on. Plus, the backlight feature is a huge help when you have to work in low-light (like in a darkened plane, train, etc) It is also designed with an ErgoLift feature which ASUS says is optimized for the best typing comfort, it helps with cooling and audio performance, too. I only wish that its hinge would go down a bit more to accommodate various placement positions.  Sound is powered by Harman Kardon via a dual-channel smart amplifier. Audio quality is good in moderate levels but I find it a little too quiet on its own when listening to dialogue even when set at maximum volume. 

Our Opinion:

The Zenbook 14 UX434 is the perfect workhorse for anyone who is always on-the-go. It has an impressive battery life, is light, and can squeeze into tight spots without sacrificing performance.  

Full Specs:

Processor: Intel Core i7-8565U or i5-8265U

Display: 14” FHD NanoEdge Display (optional touchscreen), 1920 x 1080 Resolution

OS: Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX250, 2GB GDDR5 VRAM

Memory: 8GB / 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 onboard

Storage: 1 TB PCle 3.0×4 SSD or 512GB/256GB PCle 3.0×2 SSD

Connectivity and IO Ports: Wi-Fi 5 (dual-band, gigabit class 802.11 ac), Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, USB Gen 2 Type-A, USB 2.0, HDMI, Micro-SD reader, audio combo jack  

Cameras: 3D IR HD Camera

Touchpad: 5.65” touch-capacitive FHD+, 2160 x 1080 resolution, super IPS display

Audio: ASUS SonicMaster stereo sound system, certified by Harman Kardon; array microphone with Cortana and Alexa voice support

Battery: 50Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer battery, 65W power adapter (output 19V, 65W; input: 100-240V AC, 50/60GHz universal)

Dimensions: 31.9 x 19.9 x 1.69 cm ; 1.26kg (with standard display)

ZenBook 14 UX434 Full Review: Productivity Powerhouse
Build Quality 9
Form Factor 9
Ease of Use 9
Performance 9.5
Value for Money8.5
9Overall Score

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