Launch during IFA 2022 at a busy event at a stylish Berlin venue, it’s easy to see why everyone was excited to get their hands on the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. Foldable displays are nothing new; we’ve all seen foldable phones by now, and Lenovo released a similar foldable laptop over two years ago with rather mixed reception.
We all know that technology isn’t quite still there; we’re a long way from the slick ultra-thin folding screens we see in west world, and last but not least. But there is still something magical about the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. It may not be the first of its kind, but it’s groundbreaking – this is the world’s first 17-inch foldable laptop screen, making it the largest foldable technology you can reasonably use on a bus.
Asus was eager to drum up the innovation angle in our press briefing, and from the time we spent with the laptop, it certainly feels like a cutting edge product. Asus worked closely with Intel to deliver the best possible product, running on a powerful 12th generation Intel i7 processor. But innovation alone is not enough. Is it actually good? Let’s see.
Price and availability
With a starting price of $3,499 (£3,299), the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is likely to have a lot of potential buyers folding their wallets. Sure, it’s easy to spend a stupid amount of money on a laptop these days, but at that price you’re usually looking at a powerful gaming laptop with a high-end graphics card, which is absent from the 17 Fold OLED.
Still, we can’t say we’re overly surprised. This isn’t a mainstream product, and Asus doesn’t pretend to be. Since this is new technology, the target audience is not yet completely clear; tech enthusiasts, graphic designers and fast-moving professionals are all within the reach of this laptop. Also, there’s only one configuration available at the moment, so there’s no option to pick a cheaper, lower-powered model.
Fully unfolded, Zenbook 17 Fold OLED feels like the world’s most luxurious tablet. The 17.3-inch screen is incredibly bright and colorful, which will no doubt be a boon to artistic users. There is a slight sheen to the surface of the screen and minor imperfections across the hinge as these foldable panels should be made of thin plastic rather than glass.
In addition to simply using it as a giant tablet, the 17 Fold OLED has several ‘modes’. Our personal favorite was what Asus called ‘desktop mode’, where the screen sits upright in landscape orientation using the rear kickstand with the handy Bluetooth keyboard in front. Then there’s the conventional ‘laptop mode’, where the keyboard snaps into the deactivated lower half of the folded screen to create a reasonable facsimile of a regular 12.5-inch laptop.
There are also other, slightly more esoteric options. You can remove the keyboard completely and use a smaller on-screen keyboard to add real estate while the laptop is folded, or fold it halfway in a book-like direction for reading. When you close it, the keyboard can sit comfortably between the two halves of the screen. The outer case and hinge feel impressively durable; Asus revealed that thinner bezels were actually an option, but the designers opted for a still respectable 89% screen-to-body ratio for better structural integrity.
Our very first thought when picking up the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED was ‘oh, that’s heavy’. At 1.8 kg (1.5 kg without keyboard), it is unmistakably heavy. But your perception of that weight will largely depend on how you use it; 1.8 kg is almost ridiculously heavy for a 12.5-inch laptop, but the average 17-inch laptop weighs a lot more – the Razer Blade 17 series weighs almost 3 kg in comparison.
We are still at the forefront here in terms of connectivity. The only physical ports are a pair of Thunderbolt 4-enabled USB-C ports (which also charge the laptop) and a headphone jack, but we also have Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, which have become almost mandatory for every computer. high end laptop.
Obviously we don’t have full performance figures for the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED yet – you’ll be able to see those in our finished review once we’ve had a chance to try it out. We’re not sure what to expect when it comes to battery life, but we’d bet our money between six and seven hours.
Still, with an Intel Core i7-1250U CPU, 16 GB DDR5-5200 memory and a terabyte Gen4 PCIe SSD storage, we can expect fairly good performance. It won’t be suitable for demanding tasks like 4K video editing, but it should prove to be a capable workhorse for most situations. In our short test period, we experimented with running multiple programs at once and shifting them with the mode-switching functions, and didn’t experience any noticeable slowdown.
One potential pitfall is the lack of stylus support here. With its beautiful screen and tablet modes, you could reasonably assume that the 17 Fold OLED would be a good choice for digital artists, but Asus stressed that using a hard-tipped stylus could damage the bendable display. Capacitive soft-tipped styli are apparently fine, but Asus chose the safe option and dropped the stylus support completely, which is a shame.
We like the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED – we like it lot — but foldable tech is out for a while yet to hit the mainstream. The painful price tag will be a barrier to entry for many, and the novelty factor won’t appeal to everyone.
But this has the potential to be a powerful productivity tool in the right hands, and we’re excited to see Asus continue to push the boundaries with innovative hardware that actually reaches consumers, rather than a concept product that never really hit the masses. comes production. We can’t wait to get one of these all for ourselves…
IFA 2022 is Europe’s biggest tech show, and GadgetMasti is in Berlin to bring you all the latest news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on display.