The Asus Zenbook Flip S is priced at Rs 1,30,990.
The ZenBook Flip S comes with 8th generation quad-core Intel processors.
The build quality and design of the device are good.
Asus launched its convertible laptop, the Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX370) in India about three months ago. This version updates the notebook convertible series with the latest processor in the market, the 8th generation Coffee-lake processors by Intel along with the usual top-end specifications that come with the ZenBook series. The company priced the ZenBook Flip S (UX370) at Rs 1,30,990 and it is already available on sale at retailers across the country.
The company is well known in the gaming space for its ROG (Republic of Gamers) lineup of gaming machines and peripherals. To be specific, it is known for creating powerful machines with impressive cooling that allows the ROG gaming laptops and desktops to provide high performance under sustained loads. The ZenBook is an attempt to capture the other end of the market, the ultra-lightweight space where consumers don’t really want a bulky laptop and instead would go for something light. The 2-in-1 form factor increases the scope that the company can target when it comes to consumers.
I have not used the previous devices as part of the ZenBook so I was excited to see what Asus manages to achieve with this lineup when the company sent us a review unit for the ZenBook Flip S (UX370). Does Asus manage to create a compelling package while competing with the likes of Dell, HP, Samsung, Acer, and Lenovo in this lineup? Let’s find out.
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Asus sent us its top-of-the-line ZenBook Flip S (UX370) that packs an Intel 8th generation Core i7-8550U CPU clocked at 1.8GHz with a turbo frequency of up to 4GHz along with 16GB LPDDR3 RAM and 512GB SATA3 SSD storage. The company claims that it is the lightest and thinnest convertible in the laptop industry with 11.2mm at its thickest and just 1.1 kilograms in weight.
The Zenbook Flip S (UX370) does not come with discrete graphics, and instead, it runs the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620. Asus has added a 13.3-inch display with 1920×1080 pixels resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. To my delight and relief, the display also comes with thin bezels, something that Asus has termed as the NanoEdge design. The device comes with a convertible design that depends on that “360-degree hinge”; more on this in the design section.
The notebook comes with support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth, the integrated fingerprint sensor on the right side of the device, two USB Type-C ports, a full-sized keyboard with backlit keys, and a large touchpad with glass, palm rejection, and Windows precision driver support. Asus claims to have packed its dual Asus SonicMaster Premium stereo speakers that have been certified by Harman Kardon along with a microphone array for Cortana. It also comes with a 3.5-mm headphone jack, and a VGA web camera for video conferencing while being powered by a 39Wh 2-cell lithium-ion battery.
Design and Display
The ZenBook Flip S (UX370) comes in an impressive and slim package while packing top of the line specifications. I used the notebook for about two weeks and fell in love with how well built the device was. The company seems to have nailed the design with the minimalist approach that it has taken, with a mute blue shade along with a mix of what seems to be a golden accented finish running across the borders. The hinge is a bit different than what I have seen in other laptops but that has largely to do with the 360-degree convertible form factor.
This form allows the laptop to be used as a clamshell laptop, a tablet, and also in a standing “tent mode” where you can make the laptop upright with the rest of the device acting as a stand for the display which you can use with the help of your fingers because of the touch-enabled display. I did not find any problem with the design and came to appreciate small aspects such as the presence of power button, volume rocker, integrated fingerprint scanner, and a USB Type-C port on the right side along with the second USB Type-C port on the left side of the notebook so that users have the option to power the device through either of the two sides.
The 360-degree, tablet mode was flawless and I loved using the device in this mode. I liked how the keyboard disabled itself when I switched to the tablet mode so that they don’t interfere with the operation. I also came to appreciate the 1.1 kg weight of the device as any more weight would have ruined the entire experience. I didn’t use the tablet in the “tent mode” because I don’t really like using the touch interface of Windows, however, the option is still there if you want to use the device in that configuration.
However, regardless of the good design choices, I still found some issues with other choices that Asus made while designing the device. The primary complaint has to be with the finish of the device. Regardless of a metallic finish on the top and a more plastic-like finish on the bottom, the finish easily caught smudges and I sometimes found it hard to remove those visible smudges. A more matte-like finish or probably a different material may have fixed the issue.
The reason for what I consider it as an actual issue is because I think this device is aimed at people who like to conduct office-work while not carrying a bulky device. The entire finish and even the pricing of the device firmly put it as a premium machine that is meant to be shown-off in meetings. Showing off a somewhat expensive device with a lot of visible smudges is not what the customer will appreciate. The second problem is how much force it takes to open the laptop when its lid is closed as most of the times I found using both of my hands to open the device. I kept wishing for a slightly less stiff lid while opening the laptop for one hand operation.
Moving to the display of the notebook, it comes with a 13.3-inch display with Nano-deign that looks good in the real world. The display is touch capable so that you can use your fingers to interact with Windows to use the bundled stylus to ink, scribble, or draw especially when in the tablet mode. You can also use the stylus to control and operate the OS for more control and everything will work as intended.
The only thing that I observed and wished for was the brightness levels. I had to crank it up to 100 percent most of the time while doing basic image edits because 75 percent brightness made it difficult to check the accuracy of colors that I intended. The keyboard and trackpad experiences were good and more on them in the next section.
Keyboard and Trackpad
One thing I have to mention again and again is about how well built the ZenBook Flip S was making it a delight to use. I came to appreciate that quality I pushed the device to its edge with my continuous working and typing on the device for hours because its better to have a stiff keyboard with good keys than something that is not sturdy and the flexible frame makes it a task to type correctly. The layout of the keys was a bit spread out in comparison to what I have used but I quickly got used to that. The keys had reasonable actuation points so I didn’t have to press it too hard for them to register.
Asus has added backlighting with the keys but that is less than stellar with non-uniform distribution of lights along with some bleeding which took away from how polished the rest of the device looked. The device sports a reasonably large trackpad that comes with support for precision drivers by Windows and the glass surface made it easy to use.
I did encounter occasional stutter where the trackpad became unresponsive when I was pushing the device. But I think that can be updated in a future software upgrade. The fingerprint scanner works as intended helping you to unlock the device with the help of Windows Hello authentication.
Performance and Battery Life
You must have noticed the specifications of the device and you may be wondering that how well does the device perform in the real world. Well, the eighth generation Intel i7-8550U CPU clocked at 1.8GHz with turbo frequency of up to 4GHz along with 16GB RAM gave the device enough firepower to cover my daily work that includes about 7-8 hours of typing on a word processing program, 1-1.5 hours of streaming music all the while working on 8 to 25 tabs on Google Chrome at any given time. The device can chop through any usual office and productivity related work.
It also managed to handle the usual edits in Adobe Lightroom Classic or Adobe Photoshop CC while cranking the fan up to keep the system cool while exporting or rendering anything complicated. Though, the experience of these programs was not stellar with everything in the background.
I even played games like the Halo Wars: Definitive edition. One thing to note here is that the device definitely turns warm on the left edge and towards the right side area if you ‘flip’ the ZenBook S. The lack of dedicated graphics and compact form factor makes it evident that this is not the intended device for hardcore gamers.
The quality of webcam was borderline decent and Asus has packed bottom firing speakers with the device. This makes the Notebook fire all the sound it generates from the speakers downwards in order to make use of the surface below the device to reflect back the sound to the user.
This is not really an ideal setup and I wish that the company had done something better as the intensity of speakers was a bit lacking with comparatively less bass.
The device comes along with a USB Type-C adapter where it gives us the option to plug in an HDMI, USB Type-A or another USB Type-C cable. I appreciated them bundling this but in addition to that, I was hoping if they would have included two Type-A ports instead of one.
I also ended up living the dongle life because there is no ethernet port with an RJ-45 connector so I had to connect the adapter to the USB Type-C port and then take an RJ-45 to USB Type-A port to connect it to the internet which really left me with no place to connect my external USB Type-A based gaming mouse. Though the company does sell a more fully featured USB Type-C adapter you will need to shell out money separately for that.
Talking about the battery life, similar to other laptop makers, Asus made some tall claims about how much battery backup the ZenBook Flip S can provide. The real world performance is different and the device lasted me anywhere from 5.5 hours to 7.5 hours depending on what brightness I was operating the device at.
On 100 percent brightness, the device lasted me about 5.5-6 hours during my regular work day while reaching 7.5-8 hours at 50 percent brightness and more passive use. Another thing I want to make note of is how we don’t have to lug around a large battery charger brick and it is much more compact all thanks to the USB Type-C charging port.
The ZenBook Flip S comes with Windows 10 Home Single Langauge with Creators Update so the first thing that I did and I know most of you will have to do is to update the device to Windows 10 April 2018 update. The ZenBook Flip S comes with a bunch of bloatware including in-house Asus apps as well as third-party apps.
In-house apps include ‘ASUS Battery Health Charging‘, ‘ASUS GIFTBOX‘, ‘ASUS Product Registration‘, ‘MyASUS‘, and more. Third-party apps include ‘McAfee Security’ program, ‘Netflix’, ‘Cyberlink PowerDirector’, ‘Cyberlink PhotoDirector’, and ‘WPS office’ suite of apps. Other apps include ‘Minecraft’, ‘Microsoft Solitaire Collection’, ‘King Soda’, ‘King’, ‘Hidden City’, and more.
Asus also served ads about McAfee a number of times but thankfully almost all the apps can be removed easily. There are no flaws in the Windows 10 software and its daily operation from my usage.
Verdict: Should you buy it?
The company has managed to build a compelling package which checks almost all the boxes of requirements for a modern, premium looking office notebook including real-world performance. The 2-in-1 convertible factor here is a bonus for users who want to use the device more informally or to illustrate their point with the help of drawing during the official meetings.
However, the device has some minor flaws that could have been improved upon but nothing is really a deal-breaker. As mentioned previously, the device does not come with a dedicated graphics card so this is not meant for hardcore gamers, or even for serious video editing.
However, the conversation changes a bit when we come to the pricing of the device. While I understand the reason for the pricing of Rs 1,30,990 but regardless of that, I think that it should have been priced slightly more aggressively to combat the competition. The reason for this is because the competition offers good devices in the form of Dell XPS 13 or the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon.
If you are an Asus-loyalist and have the money to spare then, by all means, go ahead with the Asus ZenBook Flip S. But to everyone else, I would recommend you to check out the alternatives mentioned about while keeping in mind your usage scenario before locking the deal.