Asus ZenBook Flip UX560UQ review
This 15in convertible is a flipping powerhouse
This review was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated.
With laptop makers releasing increasingly svelte and "Ultraportable" laptops, workstation-grade laptops are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
The Asus ZenBook Flip UX560UQ is an even rarer breed than most. Not only is this 16in laptop a behemoth of a machine, but it's also convertible, featuring a touchscreen and a 360-degree hinge that allows you to transform it between 'tablet' and 'tent' modes, in a similar fashion to Lenvo's popular Yoga devices.
Can this combination of hardware grunt and mobile flexibility pay off, or is the ZenBook Flip caught between two worlds?
The first thing you'll notice about the Asus ZenBook Flip is that it's absolutely ginormous. The 2.2kg chassis is almost 20mm thick and packs in a hefty 15.6in screen - a far cry from the svelte, razor-thin convertibles we're used to seeing from the likes of Dell, Lenovo and Microsoft.
There's a reason for all that bulk, of course, which we'll talk more about later, but don't be fooled into thinking this is something that you can easily sling into a bag. This monster is likely to spend most of its life on your desk.
While you can technically flip the screen round to use the ZenBook Flip in tablet mode, it's hardly comfortable or convenient. Aside from the fact that its enormous weight will quickly tire your arm out, the device's large footprint makes it quite unwieldy to use in this manner. It works a lot better in 'tent mode', however, which is useful for watching videos or giving presentations.
Visually speaking, the Asus ZenBook Flip is pleasant enough to look at, with an attractive matte-black finish on the aluminium chassis and rounded corners. We do have a couple of complaints, however; the hinges feel a little flimsy, and the keyboard has some definite flex to it, visibly bowing inward if you're typing with any degree of force.
That's not the only compromise you'll have to deal with on the Asus ZenBook Flip. The display's massive panel features a lowly 1080p resolution, which would have been perfectly adequate if the picture quality wasn't so disappointing.
A maximum brightness of just 276cd/m2 is just about acceptable, although not impressive, and with a measured sRGB coverage of a little over 71%, colour accuracy isn't a particular high point either. It's also lacking the matte anti-glare coating seen on many business laptops, so you'll likely struggle if you're trying to use it outside in bright sunlight.
It puts up a fine performance in day-to-day use, however, and in well-lit conditions, you're unlikely to have too many complaints. Text is sharp and clear, and images and video are rich, colourful and detail-packed.
Keyboard and trackpad
One of the benefits of the Asus ZenBook Flip's large footprint is that it can pack in a full-size keyboard and a large trackpad. The keyboard has a full complement of function keys, and even a number pad. The all-in-one trackpad is also larger than average, with a nice, smooth finish and multi-touch gesture support.
Despite all the space that it has to play with, however, the keyboard still feels a little cramped. There's virtually no separation between the number pad and the rest of the keyboard, which led to frequent mistypes.
The travel distance also isn't as deep as it could have been, especially considering the heft of this laptop, and the feedback from keystrokes felt mushy and poorly-defined, on top of the flexing issue. Asus could have easily squeezed a larger trackpad onto the ZenBook Flip, too - although this is nitpicking somewhat.
With that having been said, however, it's a perfectly serviceable keyboard and trackpad combo. We've definitely seen worse, and it's not going to be much of a disappointment - especially at this price point.
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