Don’t buy it Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED. This is my advice to everyone. Not just those looking for a practical hybrid work device, or those who wouldn’t consider a device priced around $3,500, but even very early adopters with cash burning a hole in their pocket for such a purchase.
Asus knows this too. WIRED spoke to the fledgling foldable manufacturer for an exclusive piece on the device’s prototyping process, and during our chat the director of technical marketing for games and PCs, Sascha Krohn, admitted: “Obviously price is not a consideration,” before adding, “this is not a mass-market product -size, this is not for everyone.” Indeed. The ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is definitely not ready yet, but … I like the idea. And between Lenovo and Asus—the only foldable PC makers out there right now—there’s a future here.
Screen With Smarts
While I’m reluctant to recommend anyone buy this device, after using the ZenBook 17 Fold for a few weeks now, I’m all for folding PCs. The main attraction is being able to carry a large display in your bag. Some may think of this device as a laptop that can transform into an extended canvas. However, something akin to a portable display with Windows onboard, rather than a laptop with a folding screen, is a more accurate description—especially when it comes to highlighting the best of this design.
When folded and propped up on the attached stand, the glorious 17-inch OLED screen is the ideal size for multitasking, or just tasks—like working in a spreadsheet—that benefit from a larger display.
The ZenBook 17 Fold OLED comes with a Bluetooth keyboard included in the package. Thin components can be stored inside the device when folded or carried separately. It’s a good shape, size and weight, similar to a 13-inch laptop keyboard, and can either be placed on top of half the machine when folded (which the display will respond to accordingly) or can be placed separately on a table. The latter is my favorite way to use the device—a big, bright screen with a keyboard located in front. And, if the included keyboard and trackpad combination isn’t to your liking, you can always connect your own.
On the other hand, I’m less of a fan of laptop mode. Asus says it has gone as big as it can with a 17-inch display here, but it’s still not enough, because for this incarnation the screen size is split in half. It’s the usual 13.3-inch shell machine size, but the thick bezels mean the display is 12.5 inches. The keyboard typing experience also worsens in this mode, with the accessory flexing more when not on a flat surface. Overall, though, the typing experience is strong, if lacking in travel, and the trackpad is very attractive. Having had hands-on time with its rival the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (2022), Asus has done well. I’ll come back to more points of comparison with its single competitor later.
To be honest, my first impression of the laptop mode was worse than it is now, because the large bezel, initially jarring, is fading a little and it is possible to get used to the relatively small size of the 12.5-inch display—especially if it is only needed when space is limited.