Considering the fact that ultrabooks are selling like hotcakes these days, it’s no surprise that the market is trying to cater these demands. ASUS took a very different approach here by creating an inexpensive laptop that is thin, light, sturdy, and has a touch screen too. This is the ASUS ZenBook Flip, specifically the UX360CA model.
The box design is a little more funky this time – showcasing the ZenBook Flip’s ability to… you know, flip.
Opening the box is rather simple – just lift the lid and everything is revealed.
Personally I think the box design is a little too big in general. ASUS could have placed the power brick and all of the cables underneath the laptop, but no idea why they chose to put it at the side. There is quite a large void below the laptop, maybe for shock absorbent purposes.
Digging out all of the contents reveals the usual ZenBook contents, but this time there’s more. ASUS is generous enough to realize the lack of port is a problem for some people. So how did ASUS addressed this issue?
There’s a micro-HDMI to full-sized HDMI converter, and another USB-to-RJ45 converter! I can understand where ASUS is actually coming from since they included these accessories!
Also, bonus cable tie! There’s already one on the charger itself, so this is a definite bonus!
To be completely honest, I wasn’t astounded by the ZenBook Flip at all. In fact, I involuntarily cringed because of how similar it is to the VivoBook Flip which we reviewed here. Luckily upon further inspection, they aren’t that similar after all.
Sure ASUS copy pasted the geometry and ports over to the ZenBook Flip with some tweaks. Even the hinge is the same. ASUS did change the finish on the lid though. Not that there’s anything wrong – I think both designs are great, just that the materials aren’t particular the sturdiest. It felt like metal-coated plastic on my hands.
While the VivoBook Flip had brushed metal finish, the ZenBook Flip has the iconic concentric circle design. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same.
However, the biggest difference is in its thinness. The ZenBook Flip is noticeably thinner, with the USB-A ports touching the top and the bottom of the ZenBook Flip.
Connectivity and ports
In contrast with the previous section, the ZenBook Flip has a fairly different set of ports. The most noticeable is of course, in its HDMI port.
Because of the ridiculous size of a full-sized HDMI port, ASUS opted for a micro-HDMI port instead, and included a converter for you.
While we’re talking about the micro-HDMI port, let’s take a look at the right side of the ZenBook Flip. It has a 3.5mm combo audio jack, the aforementioned micro-HDMI port, a USB Type-C port, a USB-A port, and the charging port.
On the left side is where another USB-A port, and a full-sized SD card reader. Then there’s the battery and disk activity LEDs, the volume rocker, and power button.
Just wow. ASUS cramped in all the necessary ports without compromising any of them, while including some other ports that other companies force you to get a dongle coughApplecough.
The ZenBook Flip that I have here with me is the UX360CA. It has a 13-inch 1080p glossy touch screen. Not too bad, considering that it’s running on Core-M processor.
Being a 13-inch laptop itself, some form of “magnification” is required. That’s why the ZenBook Flip is set at 150% scaling by default. If not, everything is just too tiny. However, I’ve had enough of laptops using 768p resolution displays on a 13-inch Windows machine – it just makes things worse with that horrible fuzzy image.
I realize that throughout my usage, colour shift is pretty minimal, yet colours are quite vivid. Another thing I’d like to point it is the brightness.
It’s definitely not the brightest – as in it’s not exactly easy to see the screen under sunlight with the ZenBook Flip, but it can go pretty dim. Perfect for indoor and night use.
Touchscreen, trackpad, and keyboard
These 3 things are important to me. With the rise of touchscreen laptops these days, it becomes quite a necessity for those who are looking for new laptops.
For the ZenBook Flip, the touchscreen is as expecte. It tracks all of my finger movements, and clicks pretty well too. The only gripe I have – which applies to smartphones and laptops alike – is the extremely high friction between my finger and the screen itself, making swipes rather difficult.
Another gripe that I have is the same for the VivoBook Flip. When it’s on tent mode, there is absolutely zero protection, or at least rubber feet, between the laptop and the surface that it is placed on. Sure, the laptop looks sleek without any weirdly placed rubber feet, but nobody likes a broken laptop when it falls off the table due to the lack of friction. A tad disappointing since this is a repeated problem too.
Then comes the trackpad. To be completely honest, it’s quite smooth, but then again there are some major flaws. The tactility isn’t that great, and most of the time I don’t feel like I’ve clicked at all. Just imagine this – the clicks have a very low travel distance, and it requires quite a lot of force to click.
That said, I found myself rarely using the trackpad at all, other than to drag and drop files. The touchscreen really does compensate for the lackluster trackpad.
Finally, the keyboard. I actually like this keyboard quite a bit. It’s has an island design, and the keycaps actually match the colour of the ZenBook Flip’s body itself. However, many people might make a fuss about how thin the keys are. To me, it’s actually quite okay.
It uses the exact same key switches found on the VivoBook Flip, which I found it to be quite comfortable.
However, ASUS did cheap out on the keyboard backlighting here. I mean sure, ASUS has to make some trade-offs to maintain that low price for the ZenBook Flip, but neglecting the backlit keyboard is quite a no-no, especially when the screen brightness can go so low. Seems like there’s a mismatch here.
This is where things get a little funky. The ZenBook Flip uses an Intel Core-M processor – specifically, the Intel Core m3-6Y30. It runs at 0.9GHz can Turbo Boost to a maximum of 2.20GHz. Coupled with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, it’s not the fastest performer out there. However, it does definitely does get the basics done.
The ZenBook Flip is most definitely not for gaming. Not even the lightest titles – well, maybe some lightweight Flash-based games, because the processor is meant for lighter-weight usages only.
Throughout my tests, I find the ZenBook Flip is actually very sufficient to do word processing via Word together with Spotify, Franz, and about 8 Chrome tabs opened at the same time. Occasionally, I did add another tab and scour around YouTube too, and it still runs fine.
However, with YouTube running, things do get a little hot. By that, I mean about 70℃ hot.
It’s a little uncomfortably hot to be honest, but at least everything runs fine – just a tad hot.
I’m really happy that ASUS opted for a Liteon M.2 SSD. The speeds somehow aren’t the fastest, but still leaps and bounds beyond a traditional HDD.
ASUS claims that the ZenBook Flip can actually last up to 12 hours on battery with its 54Wh capacity. That’s an impressive claim, to be honest!
Throughout my test – which is described under “Performance” section – the ZenBook Flip can actually last somewhere around 8 hours. Not too bad, considering that the entire ZenBook Flip only weighs in at 1.3kg.
The charger is still the same as any other ZenBook series of laptops – considerably small, with the entire power brick integrated on the plug itself.
This charger can output 45W and charge the ZenBook Flip from 0% to 100% in about 2 hours. I think you can already tell how much powerful this laptop really is, considering that it only requires a mere 45W to start charging the laptop.
The ZenBook Flip is the laptop on my list if I am considering to find something like the MacBook Air but not wanting to pay that much for an ultraportable. Heck, even the original ZenBook series seems a little irrelevant now. The ZenBook Flip is definitely not the prettiest, but it gets the job done. Done very well too, in fact. Its build quality, keyboard, screen, touchscreen, and ports are very well-balanced.
Now, you might ask why? Why not? It only costs RM3,099 for the exact model that we reviewed here, and you can actually find one for RM2,931 here over at Lazada.
As someone who prefer to do all the heavy-duty work on a desktop while typing with a laptop on-the-go, I think the ZenBook Flip is absolutely perfect. At least we don’t have to pay over RM4,000 for a laptop that has only one USB-C port.