Working on a review for Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
Hello, I have been planning on working on a review for my Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, I bought it at the end of September as a birthday present as well out of the need to replace my fairly outdated PC. Now that I have almost 4 months with it I feel like I have amassed enough general user experience to give my thoughts on it. The reason for the review is 1) It's the first generation (of truely usable) dual-screen laptop and at its pretty high price I am sure many people are more reserved about jumping in but I want to be fair and open about it because it is an amazing experience (FOR SOME USERS, not all) that it's worth supporting into newer and better generations. 2) I want to improve my skills in writing and constructing reviews.

I have one week off work in the first week of next month so I'm hoping I can have all the information ready to do a comprehensive review (which includes video samples from external cameras how the dual-screen laptop can be used for image editing and other multi-tasking abilities) as well as performance information. I won't be able to do a direct comparison with other laptops or desktops since it's the only device I have, besides a 2017 basic iPad. But I do have over 25 years of PC building (I put up myself 4 PC's thus far) and usage including Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 (and this will be expanded on Window's and Asus abilities to handle multi-screen capabilities).

If anyone is interested in specific information they would like to know, please leave a comment and I will add them to the research for the review.

(PS. I know I have promised a review of the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f 2.8-4 Power OIS months ago, I will write that one at some point, it has been postponed at the moment because I feel it would be unfair to judge it's AF performance with the quite old at this point Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I).
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
Please can you explain how you use the smaller lower screen. What use is it?
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
Depends on the software and personal preferences, I use Lightroom the most so most of my experience will be explained on that, ASUS themselves are advertising on usage with Corel Suite which seems to be specifically developed in collaboration with ASUS for this laptop and I think those users might get the best experience on that but I don't have any Corel products and haven't used them at all so I can't comment on that. I found the 2nd screen an amazing tool for multitasking because there are other things I would like to do as well as editing pictures (Podcast or Stream watching, YouTube watching, reading articles/tutorials/forums, listening to music, having multiple chats open like Discord, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Team Speak, and so many other software, sometimes I even just have Windows Task Manager open and watch how the laptop resources are used when doing specific things).

I will detail, share videos and examples of my general and specific usage soon.
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
Thanks, I look forward to it. Perhaps you could include a photo of the machine in use, showing the two screens and how you are using them. It does look a very impressive machine.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks, I look forward to it. Perhaps you could include a photo of the machine in use, showing the two screens and how you are using them. It does look a very impressive machine.
I plan on using my little Oly (E-M5 II) to record how I use it since I don't want screen capturing software to affect the performance as well as show the difficulty in the ergonomics of using the laptop (it's far from intuitive or comfortable).
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
Update: I have written the hardware part of the subject in the matter, finished making the pictures as well as almost done the benchmarks (except for 2 more, but these take more time then I have today). I have a newfound respect for reviewers who benchmark on a daily or even weekly basis, it's very repetitive, monotonous and time-consuming (spent 2 of my days off from work on the tests alone). I will post that part of the review sometime this week.

Speaking of review, thinking more about this I am reluctant to call it a review because 1) I'm not a professional reviewer and no experience in that department, 2) The machine is my ONLY desktop/PC category of device so I cannot do fresh Windows install and test it with minimal software (bloatware if you want to call it that way), 3) I tested in a casual way with no 100% accuracy, repetitive results nor do I have any other devices to compare it to measurably equivalent.
As such I will treat it more as a USER EXPERIENCE/GUIDE. And it will be more of average user experience with a run of the mill software installed and user observations as the main device (less focus on portability usage at the moment and more of desktop-like usage, aka having it on a desk and connected to a power outlet)

Last part. Because ASUS came in with brand new BIOS update that improves 2nd screen performance and compatibility (With Windows, not productivity/creativity software):
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

While it gives quite spars information I have updated it and I have seen noticable improvement on the reaction time of the 2nd screen when "snapping" windows on and off of it as well as transfering windows to and from it, it have given me a pause on writing a user report on using 2 screens on this laptop because it seems to fix some of my complaints with it and I need to test/use it more to be sure of this.
So I will delay the How To Use 2 screens guide for a few weeks and will post an update on the topic sometime in March.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
Another update (unfortunately):
My frustration with Microsoft and Windows is reaching an all-time high right now because of their new policies of forceful Windows updates unless the user intervenes directly, repetitively and, sometimes, forcefully. After the last update on 20.02.2020 (what date to mess things up) my laptop has been constantly disconnecting from any WiFi access point (I have tried 4 different WiFi points, mine at home, mine on the mobile network tether, WiFi at work and WiFi at a friend's place so I can't blame my router for the issue) followed by performance degradation to the point that playing an MP3 file (through Winamp) lags the audio so hard it makes music sound like screams of pain and most of any tasks on Windows because a crawl of patience torture (even the mouse cursor jumps on the screen with any movement of the mouse). I checked the CPU, very low to normal usage, checked the Power State and it's always set to Maximum Performance, checked for malware and no issues found.
The only temporary fix that I found to work is going to Device Manager and Scan for Hardware Changes, and everything returns to normal, for a while.

Before this last update, I had Windows delete all the files I had on the desktop (which is mainly shortcuts, my daily/job/finance spreadsheets, and my Lightroom Export folder, for easy access) and the only way I found to recover them was through OneDrive's Recycle Bin.

I have no choice, at this point, but to reset my laptop to factory default and have Windows re-installed, (change to previous Windows version doesn't work right now because the last update became corrupted, somehow, even for uninstalling). I will do that in two weeks' time at taking the opportunity to RETEST the entire review performance data (there go another two days of my holiday :p ) with a fresh Windows install.

PS. Making changes to Windows Update (registry editing, pause Windows Update, etc) seems to be only a temporary issue because once a major update hits it resets a lot of Windows settings and you are back to searching for hours looking for what changes they reset/made.
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
This doesn't sound good at all. I wonder if Windows is working hard trying to use your wifi for OneDrive. See below to stop this sort of thing.

You should be making changes through the Local Group Policy Editor, not through the registry.
I have made changes this way and they have never been lost despite multiple major upgrades. I am assuming you have the Pro version of Windows 10.
Below I will give an extract of notes to myself on some changes I have made this way.
For example:
1. I never ever want to use OneDrive. I suspect your use of it is responsible for some of your problems.
2. I don't want my laptop to ever do updates except when I tell it to. (I let my desktop machines do what they like.)

How to check all non-default policies
- Run gpedit.msc to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
- Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/All Settings
- Sort by State column

Disable OneDrive everywhere in Windows and Apps
- Run gpedit.msc
- Navigate to Local Computer Policy/Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/OneDrive.
- In the right pane, double click on policy named: Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage
- Select the Enabled radio button and click OK.

Get control over Windows updates
- Run gpedit.msc
- Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Update
-- Configure Automatic Updates: change to Enabled and option 2.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
I have been using OneDrive as my online sharing storage between devices to save me the time of manually uploading or copying files, especially for the iPad because Apple is pretty notorious for not giving easy access to storage on their devices. I use the iPad for sharing images with people (when I don't carry the laptop with me, which most of the time I do not, except for work, because of its almost 3 kgs weight).
The other reason I use OneDrive is to share my spreadsheet documents between 3 different (used to have a desktop PC as well) of devices (Samsung Note 10, Apple iPad 9.7" 2017, Asus ZenBookPro Duo) to have access to my work schedule and other documents to read and/or modify them.
I accrued 105GB of free storage on OneDrive over the decades (the most on all the uploading data services/websites, well before Flickr dropped its 1TB free) so it's my main place that I use to store sharing stuff, even though I have uploaded only 4GB at the moment, made by My Pictures (just screenshots), My Documents (mostly random stuff and eBooks) and Desktop. So OneDrive should not be making all that much changes to the network.

I think the WiFi issue is related to something else since OneDrive was working fine before the February patch that I should have to postpone to March or April but made it through when I didn't pay attention. I will see what I can do with the policies you mentioned.
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
You could try uninstalling the wifi device in Device Manager and then let Windows find it again. That will give you the current approved driver.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
Another update, none of the solutions I found on the Internet seem to work on fixing the WiFi signal being lost. It seems that when I try to play games (can't find any other tasks that replicate this issue) the System inside Task Manager draws a lot of CPU tasks/cycles and turns the laptop into a Pentium IV in 2020. Everything lags from mouse and keyboard input to displaying the Windows interface and Task Manager. Scan changes of hardware do not fix the issue in Device Manager and only disabling the Intel AX600 WiFi device seem to fix the issue (everything turns to normal instantly) though that means no Internet if I reactivate the WiFi card everything is fine for about 20-30 minutes before things get broken again.

I have re-cloned the original Windows OS (version 1809) that came with the laptop and the issue still persists. I have updated Windows as far as it would let me but now I am finding that Windows upgrade to 1909 gives me BSOD on 49% installation and reverts back to 1809. I have not found a solution for this problem either and it is making it almost impossible to recommend any Windows-based products because of Microsoft's greed and stubbornness to properly QC their updates before releasing them to the general public (there is almost no week where we don't hear that Windows Update has broken something for someone). After Microsoft admiring to firing most of there QC of their Update team and letting user test their software (in the fast and now even slow ring of their beta users) I don't see a bright future for Windows 10 (especially for laptops since they are so compact and designed that there is very little hardware you can change if any issues arise, like swapping hardware parts that might be incompatible with Windows).

I will try to get a new WiFi card next week and see if that fixes the WiFi dropping issue and the system hangups. If I can't update Windows 1809 and lose support when Microsoft ditches this version I will try to convert this machine to Linux.
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
Thanks for the info. I'm not going to buy one of those!
I expect you have checked if Asus provides specific drivers for their machine?
All my machines, new and old, run Win 10 perfectly, and have no problems with updates.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
Thanks for the info. I'm not going to buy one of those!
I expect you have checked if Asus provides specific drivers for their machine?
All my machines, new and old, run Win 10 perfectly, and have no problems with updates.
I haven't checked their driver section of the website for a couple of months now, it seems they only recently updated their driver, some in February, some this month. That does give me an idea to try and do a fresh clean install of Windows 1909 directly (maybe see if I can get my hands on the incoming April update) and see if I can install the drivers manually.
Originally when I got the laptop I tried a clean install of Windows on a new 2TB M.2 (kept the original 512GB M.2 with the original Windows 1809) and when I tried to install the drivers they had on the Asus website in October 2019 the drivers literally did not do anything, no new processes in Task Manager, no hard drive activity, nothing ... like they were empty files. Asus did not respond to any of my messages on why they behaved like this. So I just used the original OS up until now.
Maybe the new drivers fixed this issue.

(PS. Windows will install generic drivers with a clean Windows install BUT there is a lot of proprietary drivers for the touch/pen input and the 2nd screen features, like switching windows between screens, pinning and screen sharing, all the function buttons like disabling the 2nd screen, etc. This is the thing that I never thought about and what might have screwed me the most, this laptop is too dependent on proprietary technology to function with anything but it's original OS intent).
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14
Another update (hopefully last one): I have replaced the original Intel AX200 Wireless M.2 WiFi card with an Intel Wireless M.2 WiFi model 8265 (It was the most reliable and cheapest option I could find on Amazon with 1-day delivery, I did not want to risk buying an AX200 replacement in case the motherboard was the issue). Technically this move was a downgrade from the default Intel AX200:
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

With the most obvious features missing is the 5.1 version of Bluetooth (just when I order a brand new set of Samsung Galaxy Buds+ which I will use with the laptop as well as my phone, they do come with v5.1 with longer and more reliable range, quicker paring and easier switching between devices). The OFDMA is also an obvious missing feature, extremely useful if the coverate of your place is big enough that require multipe routers, OFDMA is a feature where the AX200 card will talk with multiple wireless routers at the same time and pick the strongest signal to give a more reliable and stable connection.
The other downgrade is the raw speed of download the wireless card can muster. But I live in a (shared house) room of 6 meters square and with only one router and the speed is barely touching 5 MB/s download so I won't be missing most of these features for the moment.

BUT ... after swapping out the defective AX200 card my internet connection and laptop is rock solid stable. And, to my suprise, it also fixed the issue where Windows would BSOD when trying to update from Windows 1809 (July) to Windows 1909 (November) and the update completely succesfully. At the moment I am not sure how or why the AX200 card could have been this broken, where weirder still the card works fine IF I don't push the DirectX with gaming. Now, the Intel AX200 might not be defective at all and it might be just Microsoft Windows messing things up (same sh*^h different day), I don't have any other devices where I could test the card (and all of the computer shops that could test it are closed), I may try to reinstall the AX200 to see if Windows can handle it but I will have to wait until next weekend because I am working the next 6 of the 7 days until then and I don't want to deal with another problem.

I asked ASUS about my issue and they recommend to RMA the laptop (before I decided to buy another M.2 WiFi card) ... which I don't feel to easy on doing that with the current world situation that it might put me without the only photo editing machine I have for weeks if not months. I also asked about they drivers not installing and (apparently) the drivers they are providing on ASUS.com for this product can be installed by running a Command Prompt from the folder of each driver through commands like: .\Install.bat or .\Install.cmd or .\Setup.bat or .\Setup.cmd ... which is quite old school and unusual after decades of providing simple and easy to use .exe and .msi packages (I'm no stranger to CMD). Still, I grabed the old 512GB M.2 SSD and replaced the 2TB one and installed a fresh copy of Windows 1909 on it, then tried to install the drivers from Asus's website .... and they did not installed much, as in some simpler drivers like Intel Thermal Management Framework or web camera installed well enough, Device Manager recognized them properly afterwards. But more complex drivers did not seem to install fully, most important was Asus ScreenXpert (the UI that helps switch the windows between the 2 screens, has the function of snapping 3 windows equally on the 2nd screen as well as controling the brightness of the 2nd screen, without it the Windows default brightness is 50% and Windows doesn't allow to change the brightness of it natively) as well as MyAsus (controls the battery charging control, I prefer Extended Lifespan where it charges the battery Ito 60% maximum, as well as installs the 90% Adobe RGB factory color calibration ICC). While fresh install Windows feels a lot snappier then the factory version some of the functionality will be missing by broken driver installers as well as no Function buttons working either.

I will try to resume the review of the laptop but it's starting to look like (maybe) over 2.000 words and that's only the hardware and software part (haven't done the User Experience yet).
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
Congratulations on pinning it down. That is quite an achievement. No one should have to go through this kind of experience nowadays.

My conclusion is that Asus may be good at hardware but are weak on two important things.

1. Providing a fully tested system. They clearly didn't do comprehensive testing on the complete product. They would probably blame others (Intel, Microsoft) but that's not the point. They should test fully and swap out problem hardware and software components so they only sell reliable systems.

2. Providing a set of downloadable drivers that are clearly documented and tested to work on a clean system.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
Congratulations on pinning it down. That is quite an achievement. No one should have to go through this kind of experience nowadays.

My conclusion is that Asus may be good at hardware but are weak on two important things.

1. Providing a fully tested system. They clearly didn't do comprehensive testing on the complete product. They would probably blame others (Intel, Microsoft) but that's not the point. They should test fully and swap out problem hardware and software components so they only sell reliable systems.

2. Providing a set of downloadable drivers that are clearly documented and tested to work on a clean system.
Old school Windows users (if you know what Windows 98 SE BSOD is or Windows ME working like a blind turtle with a broken foot coughing up its lungs while trying to go down the stairs with a skateboard strapped to its head upside down ... or Windows XP before Service Pack 1 with not one, not two, but 3 different DirectX 9 [9a, 9b, 9c] versions and needing to Defragment 500 MB to 1 TB hard drives for about 48 hours straight, or Windows Vista ... hmmm better not actually :p ) know what it means to live with Windows and Microsoft: it's like living with a cat ... you get loved whenever the f&*£" and sometimes rarer still.
Now, this doesn't mean that MacOS is lightyears ahead from having problems ... or Linux (got to love those sexy geeks), there is no such thing as the perfect product/device ... I knew this before buying this laptop as it was the 1st of its kind (2 screens of at least 14 inches in diagonally) so it was to be expected to get some pains ... I wish Asus would be more open and sharing in how much effort and time they are putting into this product AFTER launch ... (of course) unless they are interested in fixing stuff only in the next generation of products... Canon/Nikon style.
As for Windows (and Microsoft), it took me 25 years of using it to realize that Windows has become a giant turd rolling down an infinite hill picking up whatever it finds worth keeping (aka profitable) as it grows bigger and bigger and uglier and heavier and more disgusting and I'm getting curious where (or when) is that wall going to show up where it goes splat and The End for Windows.
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,066
Location
UK
Ha! I predict the giant object rolling downhill will in time flatten all others - but only on the desktop/laptop.
 
Last edited:

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
623
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #20
Win 98, Me? Well they were still better than Windows 1 or 2. It wasn't really usable until 3.11.
I haven't quoted Windows Pre-95 (the first version I had for personal use at home when I was 7 years old) because before that my only interactions were the computers at school from a country that got out of half a century Communist regime so the computers we had in school were antiquated at best or imported junk from the West at worst and a lot of them had MS-DOS to Windows 3.1 and we would spend half an hour of the one-hour computer lessons trying to debug what was wrong with most of the computers in class. (The first computer we had at home was a 10-year-old Intel 386 platform, a Compaq though I can't remember the model, could play Doom at what felt like 15 FPS at that time)
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2009-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom