Asus Zenbook Fold 17
“The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 isn’t perfect, but takes us one step closer to folding screen glory.”
- Fun concept
- Sharp, OLED screen
- Larger size is more practical
- Excellent keyboard and touchpad
- Decent performance
- Sturdy kickstand
- 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.
|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|
|Display||17.3-inch, 2560 x 1920 OLED|
|Storage||1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0|
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|
The right size
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 ju