Asus Zenbook Flip S review

TAIWANESE TECH GIANT Asus unveiled the Zenbook Flip S in its hometown of Taipei earlier this year during the Computex trade show, claiming it to be the thinnest 2-in1 on the market. And with the device measuring in at a miniscule 10.9mm thick, we’re not disputing it.

Despite its super-slim frame, Asus has squeezed in a 360-degree hinge for various viewing modes, including tablet mode, all with a meaty Kaby Lake Core i5 processor under the hood.

But possessing all this power in such a tiny frame, can the Zenbook Flip S succeed in battery life, too? There’s only one way to find out…

Design and build
What makes 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 an updated hinge design.

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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 thick. To put that into perspective, Dell’s ultra-slim XPS 13 2-in-1, is also way thicker, coming in at 13.7mm.

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And it’s not just stupidly thin, it’s also very 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 vapour-chamber cooling system.

The Flip S’s 360-degree hinge design reminds us of Lenovo’s Yoga devices which is pretty much an industry standard these days. The 360-degree hinge means you can stand it with the keyboard sitting underneath for watching films, or spin it all the way over to be used like a tablet, a feature we didn’t use much to be honest. Saying that, it works perfectly well, slipping easily between modes with the flick of a wrist.

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Build quality is also a strong point for the ZenBook Flip S, which is essential owing to its flexibility compared with other laptops on the market. Both the keyboard and the screen feel robust and sturdy despite the ZenBook’s slim, lightweight construction.

Display
The ZenBook Flip S features a 13.3in screen with a Full HD resolution. It’s not the best screen we’ve seen on a laptop but it’s definitely up there. Images, whether movie clips, photographs or web pages, 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 a Full HD screen, pixels aren’t visible, even on close inspection, and viewing angles are good. Moving images appear sharp and touchscreen commands seem very fluid.

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The brightness of the ZenBook Flip S is bright enough for general day-to-day use, but the display is of the glossy variety, so it does reflect light easier than a matte display and smudges quite easily if using the touch screen function. But we aren’t complaining at the high standard of the screen; HD movies look absolutely 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 per cent screen-to-body ratio, giving a more attractive and premium feel.

Keyboard
The Zenbook Flip S’s keyboard has to be one of our favourite laptop keyboards we’ve ever used. They are quite on the large size of a device of this size, but this works very well, with feedback proving accurate and sharp, with plenty of travel.

As for the trackpad, 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. All in all, it’s comfortable and responsive to use.

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Performance and software
Our Zenbook Fip S review device came powered by a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 RAM and a speedy 512GB PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD, which meant the laptop was able to manage anything we threw at it with ease.

Take multitasking, for instance, which the Flip S makes a breeze, intensive applications are easy to churn through, and for everyday tasks, the ZenBook Flip S provides everything you’ll ever need.

What was particularly impressive about the Flip S, though, is how quiet it remained throughout. Even when playing games, which it is able to thanks to its built-in Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU. It isn’t fanless, but you’re barely able to hear it while tapping away, which is a bonus for those that get distracted easily.

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While using the Flip S over long periods, we found it does get a little warm to the touch, especially when throwing demanding applications at it, but nothing worth worrying about.

Generally, though, we found the Flip S met all our daily needs effortlessly, and handled the Windows 10 OS exceptionally well, with zero lag when moving from one application to the next, and programs popped up as soon as we selected them.

Connectivity and storage
Connectivity is what lets the Flip S down. On one side there’s a USB Type-C and an audio port and then when looking for the full-size USB port on the other side, you’ll find there actually isn’t one, just another USB- C port. Frustrating to say the least, especially if you want to use a mouse of charge your phone for instance.

Asus does offer a connectivity hub for those that want one, but you have to buy this separately and if you forget it, you’re screwed.

Nevertheless, there’s a volume rocker and power button on the right-hand side next to a fingerprint reader. While it’s not surprising, it’s also worth noting that there’s also wireless communication provided as standard, thanks to an Intel AC-8265 chipset, which offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

Underneath the Flip S, there are two Harmon Kardon-branded speakers, which, considering the size of the laptop, are impressively loud and are able to produce an impressive full-bodied sound.

Battery
Asus claims that the Flip S’ battery will last 11.5 hours on a single charge, which we found to be a little optimistic. But aren’t all manufacturer battery claims this way? Running our standard test of general web surfing and word processing at 50 percent brightness, we found the device ran for just over seven hours, which is quite disappointing, especially considering the battery performance of the Toshiba Portégé X20W, which boasts the same processor but in our review, gave us over 12 hours of use on the same test.

Watching a high definition video on full brightness, the machine ran out of juice in just under 5 and half hours; enough to get you through a few films on a long bus ride, at least.

In Short
The Asus Zenbook Flip S will appeal to those looking for an impressive-looking laptop that they can show off to their friends (though not Mac users; it’s not that nice) while not making too much of a difference to the standard rucksack. Priced at just over £1,200 in the UK, it’s by no means cheap, and it’s worth noting that the Asus Zenbook 3 is only a little thicker and retains the same sleek design (apart from the 360-degree hinge), but is much much cheaper at just £450.

Although let down by connectivity, meaning it could be a pain in the ass if you just want to transfer some files from an SD card, the Zenbook Flip S makes up in design. If you’re looking the sexiest Windows laptop you can find, then look no further.

The good
Beautiful and flexible design, brilliant screen, powerful 7th-gen Intel Core processor.

The bad
Disappointing battery life, expensive.

The ugly
Lack of connectivity options

Bartender’s score
8/10

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