PC

Flip this hybrid to switch modes

Besides the standard clamshell laptop and tablet modes, the Asus ZenBook Flip has two additional modes - stand and tent.
Besides the standard clamshell laptop and tablet modes, the Asus ZenBook Flip has two additional modes - stand and tent.PHOTO: ASUS

The Asus ZenBook Flip looks classy but is rather awkward to use in tablet mode

With a flip of its screen, the Asus ZenBook Flip hybrid computer changes between the standard clamshell laptop and tablet modes.

Two additional modes - stand and tent - are also possible, though these usage modes are more niche.

Like other such devices, this transformation is enabled by hinges that can rotate 360 degrees.

The Flip comes with gold-coloured hinges that go well with its dark grey anodised aluminium chassis.

This laptop looks classy, though you may need to wipe it regularly as it appears to pick up fingerprint smudges easily.

The hinges could also be more rigid, as the screen felt wobbly when I pressed it with my finger.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $1,898

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 520

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, SD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 54 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Because it is intended to be used as a tablet, the power button is at the side of the device, along with a volume rocker.

Despite this, Asus still manages to fit a decent number of ports on the Flip, including two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and an SD card reader. There is even a USB 3.1 Type-C port.

However, the Flip is awkward to use in tablet mode. With its 13-inch display, this hybrid laptop feels unbalanced and heavy (1.3kg) for a slate. To be fair, this issue also affects other 13-inch hybrids, and no PC vendor has yet managed to provide a good solution.

In addition, the screen takes almost two seconds to switch between portrait and landscape orientations, which is annoying when using the Flip as a tablet.

However, the IPS display is sharp and vivid. It has an ultra-high screen resolution of 3,200 x 1,800 pixels. The display's edge-to-edge glass layer makes it fairly reflective, though viewing angles are wide.

I am not a fan of the Flip's keyboard and touchpad. Like many slim laptops, the Flip has a shallow keyboard that feels mushy.

The precision touchpad supports Windows 10 multi-touch gestures such as a two-finger tap to right click and a four-finger tap to open the Action Centre.

However, the mouse cursor occasionally jumps around wildly, especially if I swipe the touchpad too quickly.

Battery life is very good, with the Flip lasting 6.5hr in our video-loop battery test.

My review set, priced at $1,898, is the more powerful of the two versions sold here, with an Intel Core i7 processor and a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD). The $1,598 model drops to an Intel Core i5 and a 256GB SSD.

•Verdict: The Flip is stylish and well-made but, like most 13-inch hybrids, it does not fare well as a tablet. The touchpad is a bit finicky, too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Flip this hybrid to switch modes'. Print Edition | Subscribe