The ZenBook Flip S has a lightweight design, a solid hinge, and good performance for day-to-day usage.

Asus Zenbook Flip S
Atom Review Wednesday, December 30, 2020 - 18:11

Take the Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371) out of the box and turn on that display. You’ll instantly be mesmerized. The 2-in-1 notebook has a gorgeous display. The 4K OLED panel is one of the best money can buy on a 13-inch notebook. It’s a sight to behold. The ZenBook Flip S measures just 0.55mm thick and weighs 2.65 pounds.

The Flip S (as referred to from here on) is one of the first laptops to feature Intel’s 11th Gen processors and integrated GPUs, meant to offer better overall performance. The problem lies in the efficiency of the laptop. The 11th Gen processors coupled with the 67Wh battery (which is plenty huge for a 13-incher) isn’t enough for the power-hungry 4K OLED panel.

OLED panels — originally making a splash in the high-end TVs — deliver stunning picture quality with their deep blacks, as compared to IPS LCD displays. The problem is, the extra pixels suck up a lot of battery. 13-inch laptops work with a small body to begin with.

Notwithstanding the poor battery life, the Flip S has a lot going for it, starting with that stunning display. It leaves other laptops’ displays in the dust. There’s absolutely no glare (not even in the harsh sunlight) and the pictures are colourful and vibrant. The laptop can reach a peak brightness of 452 nits, brighter than the creator-focused Spectre x360 from HP.

The price is steep for such a laptop. The Flip S comes in at Rs 1,49,990. Is it worth the expensive price tag? Let’s dig in.

The Flip S is a 2-in-1 notebook. This means that the laptop features a 360-degree hinge. It’s fully convertible, meaning it can be used in traditional laptop mode, tent mode (for watching videos) or tablet mode (with the use of the included stylus). The 11-gen CPU with Intel’s new Xe graphics chip is paired with a 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM. Furthermore, there is a full-size USB-A port as well as an HDMI out. The kicker though is that - like some previous Asus notebooks - the trackpad doubles up as a number pad.

Performance: This laptop flies

I’m going to keep this section short. With Intel’s new 11th Gen Intel Core i7 paired with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, you’ll never notice any lag or throttling issues. The Flip S handles multitasking with ease. Whether it is scrolling through all the Chrome tabs or watching videos or editing images, the Flip S can handle it all.

Where the Flip S stutters is while playing high-end games and editing videos on Adobe Premiere Pro.

Display: Gorgeous OLED touch panel

I already wrote a lot about the display above but I just want to say that this is as good as you’re going to get on a laptop. You may not need a 4K panel (for battery reasons) but once you look at it, you just won’t be able to look away. Use the display as you flip, rotate and tap away and you won’t for one minute be disappointed.

In tablet mode, the display is a treat. Whether it is watching 4K videos or creating content with the stylus, you won’t get any better than this.

Gaming: A pleasant surprise

With the new Xe graphics chip, casual gaming has turned into a weekend hobby with the Flip S. One of the most popular games these days is Rocket League. Giant cars and a  football/puck/basketball with two goals and you’re set. That and an old classic like Counter Strike run comfortably at 60 fps. This laptop isn’t meant for gaming but it’ll easily make do for an occasional couple of hours of gaming on the weekend. Age of Empires, another classic, ran without a hitch.

Keyboard and touchpad: One of comfort

I’ve been typing a couple of articles - including this review of the Flip S - on the Flip S for the past three hours straight and not once have my palms or fingers gotten tired. It’s slightly cramped (but so are keyboards on other 13-inch laptops) and it takes a little bit of getting used to. Once you get past that, it’s one of comfort that takes over. The keys are bouncy and there is good travel.

The touchpad has plenty of room and scrolls smoothly. The kicker is that it has an LED touch-based number pad via a button in the top right corner. It’s a really cool and useful feature. You can also use the touchpad to navigate and click around while the NumberPad 2.0 is activated.

Port selection: Lack of a headphone jack

One major downside of the thinness is the omission of a headphone jack. Asus does provide a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter in the box, so all is not lost. But it is frustrating. One knows that mobile phone manufacturers have thrown out the 3.5mm headphone jack, but laptop manufacturers doing so is rare. Still, there is Wi-Fi 6, so all Bluetooth headsets will work beautifully with the laptop.

Other than that, the Flip S is missing a microSD slot, something which the competitors - like HP’s Spectre x360 - has.

The Flip S has an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A.

The catch: subpar battery life

Despite having a large 67Wh battery, the laptop underperformed when it came to battery life. With a regular day of work mixed in with some YouTube breaks, the Flip S lasted just under five and a half hours. This is with the display set to the highest resolution and brightness at 50%.

Verdict: An appealing 2-in-1 ultraportable convertible

The ZenBook Flip S from Asus comes in at Rs 1,49,990. That’s a steep asking price. The Dell XPS isn’t any cheaper, coming in at Rs 1,50,990. There’s also the Spectre x360 from HP.

The ZenBook Flip S has a stunning display, lightweight design and a solid hinge. It has some powerful audio, a nice and comfortable keyboard and good performance for day-to-day usage.

The Flip S is a solid laptop for work but if you want just a bit more performance (why didn’t Asus use a higher-end processor?) and longer battery life then the Dell XPS is a worthy choice.

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