TAIWAN: MUCH TO OUR SURPRISE, Asus kicked off the annual Computex trade show in its hometown of Taipei with a raft of laptop announcements. Pinching ourselves to make sure it wasn't 2007, we were on the show floor shortly after the announcement to get some hands-on time with the new devices. The most notable is the ZenBook Flip S, a device which is claimed to be "the world's thinnest convertible laptop", measuring just over 1cm thick.
Here's our take of the ZenBook Flip S after a quickie with it on the show floor. And by quickie, we mean, hands-on. Obviously.
Design and build
What has always made Asus' ZenBook devices stand out from many other laptops on the crowded gadget market is their ultra slim, lightweight and high-end designs, making them superior to many other notebook devices out there. The ZenBook Flip S builds on this successful design with not only some ridiculously thin measurements, but also an updated hinge design.
Coming in a whole lot slimmer than the device's older sibling the ZenBook Flip UX360, which has a 13.7mm thickness, the Zenbook Flip S has a body that measures an incredibly tiny 10.9mm. To put that into perspective, Dell's ultra-slim XPS 13 2-in-1, is also way thicker, coming in at 13.7mm.
And it's not just stupidly thin, it's also ridiculously light. The Asus ZenBook Flip S weighs just over a kilo, at 1.1kg. The Taiwanese firm said this was made possible by making the body out of aerospace-grade aluminium and an ultra-thin vapor-chamber cooling system.
The design reminds us of Lenovo's Yoga devices which is pretty much an industry standard these days. Saying that, it works perfectly well, slipping easily between modes with the flick of a wrist.
Build quality is also a strong point for the ZenBook Flip S, which is essential owing to its flexibility compared to other laptops on the market. Both the keyboard and the screen feel robust and sturdy despite the ZenBook's slim, lightweight construction. Twisting the display in opposite directions at both sides gave us no cause for concern, as it felt sturdy and maintained considerable resistance.
The ZenBook Flip S's Qwerty keyboard feels great to type on and was a pleasure to use in our short tests, though we'd have to try it out properly by constructing long documents or complex spreadsheets.
As for the trackpad, it seems to work well but it's worth noting that it's multi-gesture, so it might take a bit of getting used to if you're new to it. But you can turn this option off if it's not your thing.
The ZenBook Flip S features a 13.3in screen with a 4K UHD display and a pixel density of 331ppi, which means that all images, whether movie clips, photographs web pagesges, look brilliantly clear, sharp and vibrant. It includes multi-touch support for using Windows 10 with your fingers or a stylus - ideal if you're going to be using it more in tablet mode.
As you'd expect on such a high resolution screen, pixels aren't visible, even on close inspection, and viewing angles are good. Moving images appear sharp and, on first tests, the touchscreen commands seem very fluid. We enjoyed using the touchscreen to skip between tabs and apps, for example. The brightness of the ZenBook Flip S appears appears bright enough for general day-to-day use. However, it could be argued that the native 4K resolution on the Zenbook Flip S is not necessary for a screen of this size, as a lower resolution would still give it plenty of screen real estate without making onscreen text appear too small. But we aren't complaining at the high standard of the screen, as we can imagine movies look fantastic on it.
Our favourite aspect of the Flip S's display has to be its 'NanoEdge' technology. Just like the Dell XPS 13, the NanoEdge tech sees the screen surrounded by extremely thin bezels measuring just 6.11mm on each side, offering an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio, giving a more attractive and premium feel.
The ZenBook Flip S we tested boasted a 7th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU with a whopping 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD, running Windows 10 S. We were absolutely blown away by such high specs for such a tiny lightweight device.
Unfortunately, we didn't have long enough to test its performance capabilities during our brief hands-on time, but it seemed very responsive to commands, probably due to its impressively fast CPU, and we found that the device offered an all-around fluid experience and appeared very responsive to commands, including touch input.
The ZenBook Flip S has been specially-designed with a high-capacity 39Wh lithium-polymer battery touted as offering a massive 11.5 hours of battery life which is great for a laptop of this size. We are looking forward to seeing how true these claims are when we review the ZenBook Flip S over a longer period of time. It also uses a fast-charge technology, which Asus says will reach 60 per cent in a very specific 49 minutes.
The ZenBook Flip S offers a fresh and innovative design in the Windows laptop market and, in our short experience with it, we found it fun to use with fast and responsive performance.
The ZenBook Flip S will go on sale with a price tag starting at $1,099 (about £850). Check back soon for our full review. µ