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Computing

Zenbook Fold 17 vs. ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2: foldable fun

Are you looking for innovative, experimental tech that’s pushing the industry forward? Well, look no further than laptops with foldable screens.

We now have two out in the wild: the Asus Zenbook Fold 17 and the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2. The two devices share a lot in common, even beyond the fact that they both have a screen that can fold in half. But which is the best representation of what this form factor can be?

Specs

  Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 Asus Zenbook Fold 17
Dimensions 6.9 x 10.87 x 0.68 inches 14.90 x 11.32 x 0.51 inches
Weight 4.19 pounds (including keyboard) 3.31 pounds (including keyboard)
Processor Up to Intel vPro with 12th-generation Intel Core U9 i5 and i7 Processors Intel Core i7-1250U
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Intel Iris Xe
RAM Up to 32GB LPDDR5 16GB LPDDR5
Display 16.3-inch (2024 x 2560) OLED, 600 nit HDR/400 nit SDR 17.3-inch, 2560 x 1920 OLED, 500 nit HDR
Storage Up to 1TB PCIe 4 SSD 1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD
Touch On-cell Touch with Pen support Yes
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, Nano-SIM card tray, 3.5mm combo audio jack 2x Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm combo audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E 802.11 AX (2×2), Bluetooth 5.2,  5G Sub 6 (optional) Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5
Webcam 5MP RGB+IR, with Intel VSC option 5MP with IR
Operating system Up to Windows 11 Pro Up to Windows 11 Pro
Battery 48 watt-hour (optional additional 16-watt-hour configurable) 75-watt-hour
Price $2,500 $3,500

Two forks in the road

The Zenbook Fold 17 in laptop mode.

The Zenbook Fold 17 and ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 both build upon the design of the original ThinkPad X1 Fold. They both have larger foldable displays, a wireless keyboard, a kickstand, and multiple modes for using it.

But the two devices take different paths in terms of the form factor and design. The Zenbook Fold 17 actually shares more in common with the original ThinkPad X1 Fold, using a similar faux-leather “binding” to cover the hinge. The X1 Fold Gen 2 has an entirely new look, with woven fabric on the outside and a more streamlined look. We prefer the X1 Fold Gen 2, which doesn’t try as much to resemble a folded-up notebook.

Also, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 has a completely removable kickstand this time around rather than building it right into the device itself. This also allows it to lay completely flat on the table, which is impressive. The Zenbook Fold 17 still can’t quite do this.

The 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold in landscape mode attached to a keyboard.

Both the Zenbook Fold 17 and ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 can be used as tablets, albeit very large ones. They can also both be used in desktop mode, where the screen is held up by the kickstand and the keyboard is removed. You may prefer to use the devices like this, as it allows you to take full advantage of the larger, unfolded screen.

Both devices also support a laptop mode, where the keyboard magnetically attaches to the bottom half of the folded screen. The Zenbook Fold 17 has a slightly larger screen, though, which comes in handy in both modes. One of the issues with the original ThinkPad X1 Fold was the small screen, which made this laptop mode feel pretty unusable. But now, both the Zenbook Fold 17 and the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 feel like capable laptop replacements, regardless of which mode you’re in.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 in portrait mode.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 benefits from an additional portrait mode, largely thanks to the odd aspect ratio of the device. Portrait mode might look strange with the keyboard connected to it, but it gives you a vertical view of your content that could be handy for those wanting to stack multiple screens, or just to get a taller view of your spreadsheets, websites, or word documents. It’s not the most practical thing in the world, but it is a neat addition to what this device can already do.

Of course, the detachable keyboard comes bundled in with the device in both cases. And fortunately, they’re both quite good. We’ll need to spend more time with the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 to get a final verdict on usability, but both keyboards feature full-size layouts that most people will be comfortable with.

The Zenbook Fold 17 did suffer from some issues with the touchpad, though, which is something we’ll be looking to test more on the X1 Fold Gen 2 when we get it out for review.

Display

The ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 unfolded on a table.

The size is the most obvious difference in displays between these two devices. The Zenbook Fold 17 is a full inch larger diagonally, and Asus managed to do that without adding too much extra weight to the overall package. That makes the benefits of having a foldable device even more noticeable, allowing for an excellent screen to work on when out and about. That extra screen real estate really does feel wonderful to use.

We haven’t tested the screen of the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 in detail yet, but I’d expect the two screens to perform quite similarly. They’re both using a version of LG’s FOLED (foldable OLED) panels, which bring excellent contrast and color to these devices.

The screens themselves both have a protective layer that makes the display look cheap. They’re highly reflective and have a different texture to them than what you’re typically used to, which was something we noticed particularly on the Zenbook Fold 17, especially in comparison to foldable smartphones. Impressively, though, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 does a better job of hiding the crease down the middle of the screen, whereas it can still be seen on the Zenbook Fold 17.

Performance

The Zenbook Fold 17 in desktop mode on a table.

You’re going to see very similar performance from both of these devices. They both use a low-wattage 12th-gen Intel processor, up to a Core i7. In both cases, they should represent a significant step up from the original ThinkPad X1 Fold, which suffered from using a low-powered Intel Lakefield chip.

These two new foldables are capable laptop replacements, even if they’re on the slower end of the spectrum. Interestingly, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 is fanless, which means it’s completely silent. The Zenbook Fold 17, on the other hand, has an active cooling system with fans that spin up. How will this impact performance comparisons? We’ll have to wait and see until we can test the X1 Fold Gen 2 out more.

The other main difference is that the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 comes in a vPro model, which comes with specific business-centric features and security enhancements.

The X1 Fold Gen 2 also has more configuration options, letting you opt for up to 32GB of RAM down to lower storage options. The Zenbook Fold 17, on the other hand, only offers a 16GB model with 1TB of storage.

We haven’t tested the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 in full yet, but the Zenbook Fold 17 has a larger 75-watt-hour battery. The result was OK battery life, but certainly nothing to write home about. The ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 has a smaller 64-watt-hour battery, with an even smaller 48-watt-hour battery in the base configuration.

Foldables are heating up

Open Asus Zenbook Fold 17 seen from the top down.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Zenbook Fold 17 is a great step up from the original ThinkPad X1 Fold, most notably due to the extra size, improved keyboard, and significantly better performance.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2, however, feels more like a true second generation of this product design. We’ll wait until we spend some more time with it to make a final verdict, but it seems to use some improved display technology that irons out some of the wrinkles that still made it into the Zenbook Fold 17.

It also comes in many more configurations, allowing for a cheaper starting price of $2,500. That makes it feel like a more accessible product for those who want to give these foldable laptops a try.

Neither laptop is available for purchase at this exact moment, but both should be available in the coming months.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

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Computing

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 hands-on review: a sleek redo

The 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold is the second generation of Lenovo’s foldable line, which the company says is now bigger, more powerful, and more versatile.

After having launched the foldable PC category in 2020 with the original ThinkPad X1 Fold, Lenovo took what it learned from the first generation to make a more streamlined and modern-looking product that should appeal to a wider audience. After spending some time with the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 myself, I came away impressed by how Lenovo has moved the design forward.

Specs

  Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2
Dimensions 10.87 x 13.6 x 0.34 inches (unfolded), 6.9 x 10.87 x 0.68 inches (folded)
Weight 2.82 pounds
Processor Up to Intel vPro with 12th Gen Intel Core U9 i5 and i7 Processors
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
RAM Up to 32GB LPDDR5
Display 16.3-inch (2024×2560) foldable OLED 600 nit HDR/400nit SDR, DCI P3 100%, Dolby Vision
Storage Up to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
Touch On-cell Touch with Pen support
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, Nano-SIM card tray3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E 802.11 AX (2×2), Bluetooth 5.2,  5G Sub 6 (optional)
Webcam 5-megapixel RGB+IR with Intel VSC option
Operating system Up to Windows 11 Pro
Battery 48-watt-hour (optional additional 16-watt-hour configurable)
Price $2,500

Design

The ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 is an intricate device with many moving parts, no pun intended. There is so much to consider in terms of its design — the 16.3-inch display itself — its external parts, its internal parts, and its accessories.

Customers had to buy the accessories for the original ThinkPad X1 Fold, such as its keyboard and folio stand separately. This model sells with its magnetic attachable keyboard and kickstand included. When not in use, you can fold the ThinkPad X1 Fold into its 12-inch form and snap both accessories onto the PC for easy carrying without needing an additional case.

The two outer layers of the ThinkPad X1 Fold are made of woven fabric panels that are reinforced with carbon fiber and graphite. Internally, the PC has a fanless design but includes a graphite and copper heat sink as its cooling system to spread heat to protect the most important components in the device.

The hinge has a hidden design so that the two panels wrap around it as the device opens and closes. Lenovo explained that when folded the design creates a bell shape for the display that never fully creases the screen, but rather helps to keep it protected from damage.

Display

The star feature of the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 is surely its display, which is a 16.3-inch, 2024 x 2560 resolution, foldable OLED screen with 600 nits brightness in HDR mode and 400 nits brightness in SDR mode, plus a DCI P3 100% RGB color space.

The on-cell touch display also supports Dolby Vision and Pen support, with a Wacom stylus as its tool of choice. The accessory snaps magnetically to the side of the chassis for easy carrying. The grated speakers on the sides of the frame also support Dolby Atmos and Dolby Voice.

The sheer size of the product allows you to imagine it a lot less as a basic tablet and a lot more as it is intended — a foldable PC with several possibilities for its setup and use. At first glance, the OLED colors really pop, as can be expected from this panel type. In addition to its primary 16.3-inch and 12-inch form factors, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 can be melded into different positions with or without the help of its stand and trackpad accessories.

When unfolded, you can use the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold in either portrait or landscape mode, with the display automatically adjusting to fit the different orientations. The portrait mode is the new option, which basically gives you an extremely tall vertical display. This is also something this laptop’s primary competitor, the Asus Zenbook Fold 17, doesn’t have.

Then you can fold the new ThinkPad X1 Fold into its clamshell mode, which allows it to be used as a traditional laptop. The foldable features an onscreen keyboard, of course, though the attachable accessory keyboard is what most people will want to use.

The 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold in portrait mode.

The foldable PC includes a front-facing 5-megapixel IR RGB camera, which powers such built-in AI features as, lock-on-leave and wake-on-face. As described the device can be set to lock automatically when eyes are no longer detected by the camera and to wake again when you are present at the screen once more. Like the older model, this foldable PC also sticks to one camera.

You can also toggle the display to set up several panels, columns, or areas to bring up different browsers, apps, or programs. This is a great option for multitasking and can be configured into a number of unique configurations. Perhaps you need a side-by-side productivity use case that is ideal for the landscape mode. You can do columns in portrait mode and split one column in half still, adjusting the size as you need. There are so many possibilities.

2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold

Lenovo also made improvements over its first-generation ThinkPad X1 Fold, which has a gap at the fold, by ensuring the 2022 model folds completely flat. This not only provides a seamless look when viewing the display but helped in creating narrow bezels for the screen.

There is some bumpiness along the folding point of the display, but I can’t imagine that impedes the look or performance of the display in any way. It’s just something I noted. It could potentially be a result of the hidden hinge, as explained previously.

Lenovo claims the durability of the foldable display exceeds the life cycle of the PC, projecting that the screen could last up to 10 years, as per the results of robust open and close folding tests on the product.

Keyboard and trackpad

Accessories for the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold now come included with the foldable PC and are light and magnetically attachable. The ThinkPad TrackPoint Bluetooth keyboard is a full-sized peripheral that is modeled after the ThinkPad X1 Nano keyboard. It includes track point buttons, a haptic trackpad, and a fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello.

The 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold in landcape mode.

When not already attached, you can use the keyboard separately from the display while connecting to Bluetooth. Additionally, you can place the keyboard on top of the flat part of the foldable PC in clamshell mode or still use the keyboard attached or separately.

Similarly, the accompanying stand snaps onto the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold magnetically and adjusts well for easy use. You can place the device in landscape or portrait mode and adjust the fold to your preference.

Fortunately, many of the problems with the layout of the original ThinkPad X1 Fold’s keyboard have been resolved. No missing keys or surprises — everything’s right where you’d expect on a standard ThinkPad laptop. That’s largely thanks to the larger size, no longer needing to compromise to fit all the keys in.

Performance and battery life

With its professional-grade internals, Lenovo is promising major performance improvements with the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold over the prior model based on its own internal testing. The foldable PC offers 12th Gen Intel Core U9 vPro i5 and i7 Processor options, LPDDR5 memory up to 32GB, PCIe Gen 4 SSD up to 1TB, and Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold

Several configurable options are available at Lenovo.com, including five i5 and i7 vPro and non-vPro processor options, storage options including 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. Additionally, the device ships with Windows 11 Home, and can be upgraded to Windows 11 Pro or downgraded to Windows 10 Pro based on user preference.

The device comes also with a standard 48-watt-hour battery, which can be configured to add an additional 16-watt-hour battery. Together Lenovo promises a battery life of up to 11 hours for the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold, which is a boost of up to three hours as per reviews of the prior model.

2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold

The 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold includes three USB-C ports, two of which support Thunderbolt 4, allowing you to dock external devices. You can connect up to three external monitors to the foldable PC, two 5K, and one 4K.

Additionally, the device includes a nano-SIM card tray for its LTE connectivity. It also comes with Wi-Fi 6E support standard and optional 5G Sub 6 support.

Price and availability

The price of the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold notably remains unchanged from that of the original foldable PC that was released in 2020. The new model starts at $2,500 and its expected availability starts in November 2022.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

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Computing

Asus Zenbook Fold 17 reminds me why I love folding phones

I’m a huge proponent of folding smartphones, I think the futuristic design provides truly meaningful benefits and using one continues to be a very special experience. Therefore when I was given the chance to live with the Asus Zenbook Fold 17, a folding laptop, it was an opportunity too good to pass by.

However, the Zenbook Fold 17 isn’t all that good. But rather than put me off the idea of folding laptops, it made me even more excited about them, because, for a start, folding smartphones weren’t very good either.

Why isn’t it very good?

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 is like a Galaxy Fold on steroids, and everything that frustrated about Samsung’s first attempt at a folding phone has been repeated, just on a larger scale. It’s a device filled with compromises and concerns, and just like the Fold, you’ll have to accept, forgive, and overcome them the best you can if you want to live on the cutting-edge of laptop design.

Like what? I use a laptop for work and that means typing on it, a lot. I’m typing on the Zenbook 17 Fold right now, but not with the touchscreen keyboard. Not that it’s bad, it’s just not the fastest way. Asus packages a Bluetooth keyboard accessory that magnetically attaches to the lower portion of the screen, and it’s really well sized so I can type quickly, but that’s only after I’ve gotten used to the flex. It sits slightly proud of the screen under it due to the massive bezels and bounces up and down as you prod the keys.

Because it connects to the laptop using Bluetooth it can be used separately so you can unfold the screen and make use of the clever stand on the back, but it’s still not that stable. Plus you’ve got to carry the keyboard around with you, and like the Galaxy Fold, the Zenbook Fold 17 is not small or light. In fact, it’s as thick as at least two, perhaps even three, MacBook Airs when closed.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 with its Bluetooth keyboard attached.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Just like the original Samsung Fold, the Asus folding laptop is big, unwieldy, and a bit annoying to type on. These are huge compromises when you consider a non-folding laptop doesn’t usually have these issues, and if it did, you wouldn’t dream of buying it. That’s not good news for the Zenbook Fold 17. However, don’t write it off yet.

All about the screen

Unfolding the Zenbook Fold 17 to its full, 17-inch glory is amazing. It’s by far my favorite part, as I get to watch videos on a giant screen without the inconvenience of the device taking up a giant amount of space when I’m done. It has effectively replaced my 11-inch iPad Pro for casual viewing. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same reason watching videos and playing games on a folding smartphone is so joyous, and it’s something the Galaxy Fold got right immediately too.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Fold.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Staying with the screen, the crease is visible but not that noticeable when you run your finger over it, but far worse, just like the original Fold, is the screen isn’t covered in glass, but a not-very-slidey plastic that’s probably quite durable, but unpleasant to touch. The screen doesn’t get very bright, the surface is irritatingly reflective, and the viewing angles aren’t great either. Once more, I put up with all these same things to use the original Galaxy Fold for a year after its release.

The software has been solid although my demands aren’t high, and it seems to adapt acceptably enough to being folded and unfolded, switching from laptop to tablet. However, the sensitivity of the screen and its touch responsiveness is all over the place.

The original Fold was the same, especially at the edge of the screen where it was potluck if it would recognize your input or not. Repeatedly pressing on-screen buttons to get them to work was an everyday occurrence with the Fold, and touch latency problems plague the Zenbook Fold 17 too.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Fold.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Finally, there’s the hinge. The problems encountered with the Fold’s hinge are well-documented and forced the company to halt its release while the mechanism was redesigned. The Zenbook Fold 17’s hinge doesn’t look anywhere near as complicated mostly because it’s covered up by a sliding panel on the back, and while I’m sure it’s very well designed, the open sides and panel gaps appear worryingly ready to be filled with all kinds of detritus over time. It’s probably fine, but having seen what happened with the Galaxy Fold, it does make me a little wary.

So bad it’s good?

It doesn’t sound good at all, does it? Here’s where it gets complicated, because, after all that, I really like the Zenbook Fold 17. It’s flawed, very expensive, and nowhere near as good as my Macbook Air as a laptop, but the Galaxy Fold was also flawed, expensive, and nowhere near as good as the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Yet I took the Fold around the world with me and it was brilliant, but only because I worked around its issues, and forgave its shortcomings.

I’m so glad I did because it helped me appreciate the work that has gone into making the Galaxy Z Fold 4 the first folding smartphone I recommend you buy. The design of the phone has been improved, the typing experience is better, the hinge is much more durable, it’s lighter, and the software has been greatly refined. It’s the reason I look at the Zenbook Fold 17 so favorably because for all its first-generation niggles and issues, I know it’s just the beginning.

Yes, the keyboard is annoying, but when I take it off and it becomes a 17-inch tablet, I forget about it pretty quickly. There’s a chance the hinge may cause problems down the road, but I’ll take the risk because using the Zenbook Fold 17 feels so damn cool. With a few slight variations, this is exactly the same way I felt about the Galaxy Fold.

If you buy the Zenbook Fold 17 you’re going to both love it and hate it, in equal measure, at different times. But just like the Galaxy Fold, it’s a genesis, and the beginning of something very special. Using it will feel transformative, exciting, and truly unique. If it’s your entry point into the world of foldable screens, I think it will turn you into a true believer, just like the Galaxy Fold did for me.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

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Computing

Asus Zenbook Fold 17 review: a foldable PC, done right

Asus Zenbook Fold 17

MSRP $3,500.00

“The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 isn’t perfect, but takes us one step closer to folding screen glory.”

Pros

  • Fun concept
  • Sharp, OLED screen
  • Larger size is more practical
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Decent performance
  • Sturdy kickstand

Cons

  • Heavy and thick
  • Screen is extremely reflective
  • Keyboard has to be charged separately
  • Weird webcam location

Folding screens have promised us the future of technology for years now, but it’s been a slow roll-out. That’s especially true for PCs and Windows tablets, of which only the original ThinkPad X1 Fold was the only official launch of its kind.

But the Asus Zenbook Fold 17 is the start of a new era for the tech – and it’s a form factor that might finally make more sense.

It does a lot of things right that I’d always hoped foldable PCs could do, even if the use case for owning such a device feels limited in scope.

Specs

  Asus Zenbook Fold 17
Dimensions 14.90 x 11.32 x 0.51 inches
Weight 3.31 pounds (including keyboard)
Processor Intel Core i7-1250U
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
RAM 16GB LPDDR5
Display 17.3-inch, 2560 x 1920 OLED
Storage 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0
Touch Yes
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4 supports display/power delivery
3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5
Webcam 5MP with IR
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 75 watt-hours
Price $3,500

The right size

The Zenbook Fold 17 open on a table.

The 17-inch foldable PC always felt like the right size for this type of device. It’s the screen size Intel has been pushing for since CES 2020, and over two years later, we’re finally starting to see the products come out. A 17-inch tablet might sound awfully large for what is supposed to be a portable device. But that’s the beauty of the foldable screen. When it’s folded up and being carried from place to place, it’s around the same footprint as a 13-inch laptop.

Like the ThinkPad X1 Fold, it magnetizes up into a tidy little package with a faux leather “binding” to hide the cover, all ensuring that you always have the wireless keyboard with you on the go. Asus sweetens the deal by offering a matching carrying case when traveling with the device.

The Zenbook Fold 17 folded up with the keyboard inside.

But don’t be fooled – this isn’t necessarily a compact overall package. When you include the wireless keyboard folded in between the two screens, it’s the thickness of two laptops stacked on each other.

It’s heavy too. It weighs 3.3 pounds, even without the keyboard. This is a problem all folding devices have, but the sheer size of the 17-inch screen accentuates the problem. Then again, if you’re coming from a large laptop like the MacBook Pro 16-inch, which weighs 4.3 pounds, it’ll feel like quite light.

The Zenbook Fold 17 is meant to not only act as a tablet but also replace a laptop.

Portability aside, though, the Zenbook Fold 17 does feel like the appropriate size to take advantage of the folding screen. The two halves of the screen measure 12.5 inches diagonally with a 3:2 aspect ratio – not far off from a traditional 13-inch laptop.

That’s important, as the Zenbook Fold 17 is meant to not only act as a tablet but also replace a laptop. I would argue at this size, its primary value is as a unique laptop replacement. Holding this thing in your hands as a tablet isn’t exactly comfortable.

The Zenbook Fold 17 in laptop mode.

Folded like an open laptop, the Zenbook Fold 17 offers a decent-sized top half of the screen, while the wireless keyboard magnetizes to the bottom half to create a fairly convincing clamshell laptop. If you’ve got limited desk space, this is the most convenient way to use the Zenbook Fold 17, and you’d hardly know you weren’t using a standard laptop.

It’s even comfortable to use on your lap, which is something most 2-in-1 laptops struggle with. Most importantly, though, the 3:2 screen feels plenty big, which avoids the overly cramped feeling the original ThinkPad X1 Fold gave.

The only thing I didn’t love about using the Zenbook Fold 17 in laptop mode was how the keyboard sits on the screen. There are magnets in the corners to hold it in place, but the whole thing doesn’t lay flat.

A desktop mode

The Zenbook Fold 17 open in desktop mode.

My favorite way to use the Zenbook Fold 17 is in what Asus calls “Desktop mode.” That’s when you truly benefit from this massive 4:3 17.3-inch screen. Using the sturdy kickstand on the back, you can prop the unfolded display open in front of you, as if it was an external, portable display. The screen has some rubber feet on the bottom that keep it in place. Working on an expansive 4:3 screen feels awesome, especially if you’re taking your work on the go but don’t want to give up a large screen.

The keyboard and touchpad are other beneficiaries of the extra size of the Zenbook Fold 17. The 1.4mm of key travel is luxurious, and the trackpad is plenty spacious. Again, because of the size, you get a complete standard layout, which was another issue with the original ThinkPad X1 Fold.

The keyboard is too thin to hold its shape without accidental clicks of the touchpad.

I will note that this keyboard is really not meant to be used without a table or some kind of flat surface. It’s too thin to hold its shape without accidental clicks of the touchpad. This can even sometimes happen on a table since the keyboard doesn’t sit completely flat due to the way the rubber feet are situated underneath. Even just resting your hands too heavily on the wrist rests can cause accidental clicks, which ended up being quite frustrating.

I found ways to work around it, but it’s certainly something you’ll have to worry about. Of course, you can also connect a separate Bluetooth keyboard if you want, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the Zenbook Fold 17’s all-in-one package.

The keys on the Zenbook Fold's keyboard.

My last complaint about the keyboard is that it has to be charged separately. The ThinkPad X1 Fold had a detachable keyboard that would actually charge when on top of the screen, but the Zenbook keyboard needs to be charged via its USB-C port.

The keyboard will last for 24 hours of use on a single charge, which is enough that you won’t have to think about it often — but it could catch you off guard right when you need it.

Folding problems

The Zenbook Fold 17 uses the same type of screen as the original ThinkPad X1 Fold, and with it, come a number of problems. It’s a sharp OLED panel with a highly reflective plastic layer on top. This layer makes for a surface that isn’t ideal for touch. It’s not that it’s unusable — it’s just a different texture than what you’re probably used to.

This layer also produces some heavy reflections, especially on dark backgrounds. Using Spotify in dark mode, for example, is a disaster. Part of that is just because OLED creates those stunning absolute blacks, by being able to turn off individual pixels. The OLED panel also means fantastic colors (100% sRGB, 98% AdobeRGB), and incomparable contrast.

But the reflections are a hard pill to swallow. Despite shipping in Windows 11’s dark mode, you’ll probably want to turn it off. And these reflections aren’t pretty. When it comes down to it, the plastic covering just looks cheap, and for a device of this price, that’s not what you want. A lot of laptops with OLED screens already have this problem, but it’s heightened here by seeing the crease down the center of the screen create odd reflections. You can feel the crease with your finger too, of course.

Unfortunately, the Zenbook Fold 17 doesn’t have quite enough brightness to overpower these reflections either, topping out at a max of just 261 nits of brightness. I found myself using it at max brightness quite often, especially when sitting near windows or under bright lights. Working outside with the Zenbook Fold 17 could be a challenge.

The fold of the display feels fairly rigid, for what it is. Asus says the hinge and flexible panel undergo 30,000 open and close cycles to pass the durability testing. I can’t validate Asus’ claims about durability, but durability is less of a concern than with folding smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold. You expect to open and close those devices dozens and dozens — maybe even hundreds of time per day. The nature of the Zenbook Fold 17 as a PC means you’ll probably only open and close it a few times and use it for longer sessions.

Enough speed for your needs

Performance was one of the drawbacks of the original ThinkPad X1 Fold. We expect devices like this to operate every bit as snappily as a laptop, which is something Microsoft has learned over the years with its Surface Pro line. The Zenbook Fold 17 attempts to resolve that by using a Core i7-1250U processor, which is just a nine-watt processor. That’s not a lot of power, and even though it has 10 cores, only two of those are performance cores.

Still, while this is among the slowest products we’ve tested that use Intel’s 12th-gen processors, I felt that performance was strong enough for this type of device. This is, obviously, not the type of device you’d expect to do heavy tasks with. The occasional photo edit or some light design work – sure. Just don’t buy this hoping it can replace your workstation at home.

The back of the Zenbook Fold 17.

But in more general usage, as tested through PCMark 10, the Zenbook Fold 17 can handle the daily tasks of the modern worker well enough. If you’re like me, and your typical workload primarily consists of web apps, Microsoft Office, and videoconferencing, the Zenbook Fold 17 has enough performance. My configuration came with 16GB of RAM, which helps ensure you can handle multitasking with lots of Chrome or Edge tabs open at once.

Although the Zenbook Fold 17 uses a low-power processor, it does include a fan inside, which helps keep the surface temperatures fairly cool. Even during heavy benchmarks like Cinebench, fan noise wasn’t overly noticeable, which is important on a device like this.

Battery life wasn’t anything to write home about. It only lasted around five hours on a single charge under a light load. That’s enough to make it worth taking to a coffee shop to get some work done, so long as you have a full battery when you leave home.

Not a great webcam

The Zenbook Fold 17 features a solid 5-megapixel camera that does a decent job of balancing exposure and keeping face tones bright. There’s a problem, though. Due to the placement of the camera, you are faced with two awkward camera positions. In laptop mode, the camera is vertical, making it look like you’re calling it from a phone. In desktop mode, the camera is off to the side, which is the same problem iPads have in videoconferencing.

Neither is an ideal solution, though, and I would have liked to see Asus find at least one solution that is both horizontal and centered. Instead, the otherwise solid videoconferencing experience is spoiled by the awkward location.

The webcam of the Zenbook Fold 17.

The Zenbook Fold 17 does include an IR camera for Windows Hello login, which is good since it doesn’t have a fingerprint reader.

The speakers suffer from a similar problem in terms of positioning. Depending on how you’re using or holding the tablet, you’ll get a pretty different audio experience. The four-speaker setup sounds decent in desktop mode, with some nice stereo separation and a wide sound stage. In laptop mode, though, you’re better off using a pair of headphones. The bass is still pretty lacking in either position.

A first-gen foldable

The Zenbook Fold 17 open on a table.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 is a first-generation product, and in many ways, it still feels like one. It doesn’t feel refined, nor does every feature make a lot of sense. As a first-gen experiment, it’s also undoubtedly way too expensive. That’s common for products like this, but for $3,500, you really have to be buying into this thing for the long haul. For that amount of money, after all, you could buy a high-powered laptop, a portable external monitor, an iPad, and still have plenty of money left over.

But it’s the first foldable PC that feels worthy of recommendation, albeit for the right person. The 17-inch screen size makes its use in desktop mode a huge benefit, especially for travelers on the go who need a larger screen to work with. The option to swing it around into a smaller clamshell laptop when you’re in a more restrained environment is extremely handy.

Savvy buyers are right to wait for second or third-generation products to see how companies like Asus work out the kinks. As of now, foldable devices might not be the de facto future of laptops — but they’re certainly an interesting new form factor that does something no devices have been able to do in the past. If that’s not the definition of exciting, innovative tech, I don’t know what is.

Editors’ Choice




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Galaxy Z Fold 3 under-display camera rumor just won’t die

A lot has already been leaked about the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but there are still one or two pieces that remain uncertain. One of those, the Unpacked 2021 date, may have been finally settled by the alleged remarks of a Samsung executive. The other big mystery is the form that the front-facing camera will take, which may be a typical punch-hole camera or Samsung’s first under-display camera or UDC. A new leak seems to lean more towards the latter, and many are not amused.

Samsung has long been rumored to be developing its own UDC solution even before it yielded to the punch-hole trend. ZTE beat it to the punch with the Axon 20 5G, and that was probably for the best. Given the criticisms surrounding the first-gen UDC, Samsung may have been able to avoid making ZTE’s mistakes.

The company’s first UDC has been rumored on and off again for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and even the leaks are split on whether Samsung will push through or not. Ice universe’s latest render of the foldable phone suggests that UDC is in, but it might not come in the same way that ZTE’s implementation did.

For one, the supposedly invisible area above the front-facing camera is circular rather than square. For another, it is actually more visible and noticeable than ZTE’s attempts to hide that area of the screen, a design that isn’t sitting well with some people on Twitter. That said, it is an unofficial render and might not reflect the actual device.

The render also “confirms” some disappointing news about the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s other cameras. None of the three on the back show telltale signs of a periscope-style lens, limiting the phone’s telephoto capabilities. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 could follow in the footsteps of the Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S21+, both of which have only three cameras on their backs.

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Samsung to launch the next Galaxy Fold and Watch in August

Samsung had a pretty quiet Mobile World Congress event, but it did tell us we’d learn more about its upcoming Google-approved smartwatch at its next Unpacked event. Unfortunately, the company didn’t tell us when exactly that would be, but a new report from Korean publication DigitalDaily News (via 9to5Google) claims the next Unpacked will take place on August 11, at 10 AM ET.

According to the report, Samsung will be launching five devices at the event:

  • Galaxy Z Fold 3
  • Galaxy Z Flip 3
  • Galaxy Watch 4
  • Galaxy Watch 4 Active
  • Galaxy Buds 2

Notably, the new Galaxy Watches will be Samsung’s first to not use Tizen OS. Google collaborated with Samsung to revamp Wear OS from the ground up, making it smoother and more efficient.

Hopefully, the devices are able to maintain the long battery life Samsung’s smartwatches have been known for, while having much greater compatibility with smartwatch apps via Wear OS. That said, the watch will use a custom One UI Watch skin — because it wouldn’t be Samsung if it didn’t put its own twist on the software.

As for the Z Fold 3, it’s expected to be a refinement of the original Fold’s concept without major changes to the form factor. The biggest change aside from the expected spec bump is that the Z Fold 3 will support the S-Pen

The event will reportedly be broadcast via YouTube, as per usual, and there is no indication the company plans to hold a concurrent physical event. With the rumored date a little over a month away, I’d expect an official announcement from Samsung within the next week or two.

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Galaxy Z Fold 3 announcement date confirmed by Samsung exec

We have heard and seen all that we can know about Samsung’s upcoming foldable phones, but the one crucial detail that seems to still be in flux is the date of its debut. While most leaks and tips agree that it will all take place in August, the exact date has still been a matter of some debate. However, a new statement that claims to be from a Samsung official tries to put the matter to rest by giving not just an exact date but even an exact time.

That Samsung would announce the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 in August is no longer up for debate. It would match last year’s timeline when it announced the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in early August. That it would also be launched in August isn’t exactly surprising either, given how Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 far earlier than usual this year, too.

That leaves the date for the next Unpacked 2021 event, which some put on August 3, and others believe it will take place on August 11. According to a report from Korean media, an unnamed Samsung official has confirmed the August 11 date for Unpacked 2021. Additionally, the exec even gave a 10 AM Eastern date for the event.

Unpacked 2021 will, of course, have the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 as the center of attraction, but they won’t be the only ones there. The Galaxy Watch 4 will also capture people’s attention because of its new Wear OS experience. Also making its debut will be the Galaxy Buds 2, which has recently been making rounds in the rumor mill as well.

Although there isn’t much else that hasn’t been leaked about these devices, Geekbench reveals some still-unofficial confirmation of those details in terms of specs. An entry for the SM-F926U, believed to be the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s model number, shows a rather powerful phone with a Snapdragon 888, 12GB of RAM, and Android 11 running inside. This isn’t news, of course, but it’s still good to hear some corroboration of what we’ve heard so far.

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Galaxy Z Fold 3 features confirmed in FCC filing

It’s still two months away but almost everything about the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has been leaked by now. Of course, those come with disclaimers about their accuracy, even when many people say almost the exact same things about this or that feature. It’s still a different case, however, when someone more authoritative practically puts a rubber stamp on those rumors, and one probably can’t get more authoritative than the US FCC, at least as far as third-party sources of information go.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is positioned to be the pinnacle of Samsung’s foldable phones, at least so far. It would bear what could be the most resilient Ultra-Thin Glass or UTG that Samsung has used so far, at least enough to support an S Pen stylus. It might also have Samsung’s first Under Display Camera (UDC) even before its mainstream Galaxy S flagship does.

An FCC certification for the phone, technically a certain SM-F926U and SM-F926U1, confirms at least one of those. It notes that the device works with an S-PEN using inductive coupling, just like how the S Pen has always worked. Based on recent leaks and renders, however, the foldable phone won’t have a silo for the stylus to call its home.

The document also mentions a few other features that may not have made headlines in leaks. That includes Ultra-Wide Band or UWB wireless technology that’s commonly used now for IoT and object trackers. There’s also the presence of 9W reverse wireless charging, useful if you have Galaxy Buds to charge.

What the document doesn’t mention, unsurprisingly, is that UDC camera that probably goes beyond the scope of the FCC’s jurisdiction. A recent render suggests Samsung might go with a more traditional punch-hole cutout for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is probably just fine for most interested buyers anyway.

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Galaxy Z Fold 3 to have 256GB and 512GB storage options

Google was never a fan of removable storage on Android and refused to put microSD card readers in any of its Nexus or Pixel phones. Other Android phone makers, however, preferred to keep users happy, and Samsung used to be one of those. Despite the initial backlash, Samsung has been slowly removing memory expansion options from its flagship phones. That makes this rumor about the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s storage options even more significant, especially in light of its rumored price tag.

While it might be a shame and a disappointment to not have a microSD card slot on phones like the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy S21, it might be a bit forgivable not to have one on foldable phones. Samsung has probably tried to avoid any potential place of entry for particles, given how sensitive some internal components are. It also may have been trying to reduce manufacturing costs by leaving out what it may consider unnecessary features.

Unfortunately, that also means you’re left with the storage capacity available when you bought your phone and for the price it was sold. For the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and its $2,000 price tag, having only 256GB of storage forever can feel suffocating. The good news, at least based on rumors, is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be cheaper than last year’s foldable phone. Even better, it will still start at 256GB.

It’s a matter of perspective, of course, and 256GB is still 256GB, which means it might still not be enough for some users. Now, however, it may have a price that sets expectations better. Not only that, but the rumors also point to 512GB configurations, most likely for higher price tags.

It will be admirable and impressive if Samsung manages to really push the price of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 down despite having a lot more features. These are based on unofficial information, of course, and we won’t know until August how much Samsung will be asking for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and its features.



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Samsung denies Galaxy Z Fold 2 was discontinued

Samsung has not discontinued its folding phone, despite what the company’s US website may have suggested, with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G returning to the virtual shelves after its mysterious disappearance. Eagle-eyed foldable shoppers spotted the Android smartphone had disappeared from Samsung’s site yesterday, leading to speculation that its Galaxy Z Fold 3 replacement was imminent.

Where the product listing for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 – which unfolds from a phone form-factor to a small tablet – usually could be found, instead there was a strange new message. “The Galaxy Fold is no longer available for purchase on Samsung.com,” the page warned, “however please take a look at additional options in the Galaxy family.”

What’s interesting is that there’s no shortage of speculation and leaks at the moment about Samsung’s upcoming foldable. Expected to be the Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G, there’s been talk of support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus, as was added to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. That would presumably require some sort of upgrade to the flexible OLED panel, to avoid what is still a fairly delicate screen from being inadvertently scratched by the S Pen’s nib.

Today, though, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 listing is back, as though nothing has happened. “We’re pleased with the excitement around the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G and encourage customers to visit Samsung.com for the latest updates on availability,” Samsung told SlashGear in a statement this morning. “We want to clarify Samsung is not discontinuing the device.”

It would appear, then, that the disappearance was a glitch rather than a sign of what might be happening with stock levels. That said, Samsung is running a fairly aggressive promotion on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 right now. Although the phone launched at around $2,000 last year, it’s now available unlocked and SIM-free from $1,799.99.

With a trade-in, meanwhile, you can save up to $600 more off that, which potentially brings the Galaxy Z Fold 2 down to as low as $1,199.99. That’s obviously still expensive for a smartphone, but a whole lot less than the sort of money you’d have been spending when the foldable first hit shelves.

What’s curious is that both the Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze versions are listed as out of stock with all of Samsung’s carrier partners, at least through the company’s own site. If you want a Galaxy Z Fold 2, you’ll have to buy it unlocked and then arrange for service separately – or, of course, simply drop in your existing SIM card.

Samsung isn’t just tipped to have the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 for 2021. There’s also rumored to be a new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, an updated version of its clamshell foldable, and some leaks have indicated there could even be Galaxy Z Flip 3 Ultra and Galaxy Z Flip 3 Lite variants joining the range as Samsung works to broaden the availability of folding-screen devices.

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