If you've been intrigued by the folding-screen phones from the likes of Samsung and others, but want something bigger, more powerful and running Windows 11, let me introduce you to Asus' Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.
It's essentially a 17.3-inch 4:3 foldable OLED touchscreen, powered by a 12th Gen Intel U-series i7 processor. When folded like a laptop, the top half of the display becomes a 12.5-inch 1920 x 1280 screen. You can use the bottom half as a touch keyboard, or Asus will offer an ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard/touchpad designed to function either sitting on top of the bottom half of the Zenbook's display , or on a table with the full 17.3-inch display standing up in front of it.
Asus touts the display of the Zenbook 17 Fold as Pantone validated, Dolby Vision HDR enabled and delivering 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut. There are also four Harman Kardon-certified speakers for Dolby Atmos support. And Asus packs in both an HD IR camera with a color sensor for automatic brightness and color temperature adjustments, as well as a 5 MP webcam.
Along with the i7 U-Series CPU, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will offer 16GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD. You get two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 75 Wh battery with fast charging. We'll be curious to see how that battery holds up powering that huge OLED display, but we'll have to wait a bit to find out. Asus says the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will arrive sometime in the "mid-year" of 2022.
This device is reminiscent of the dual-screen Twin River prototype Intel showed at Computex in 2019, and Asus says its Zenbook 17 Fold OLED was also designed in conjunction with the chipmaker. In 2018, Asus had shown off a dual-screen prototype dubbed Project Precog, which also used AI for easier navigation.
While a device like this clearly opens up new possibilities for on-the-go productivity and entertainment in a Windows-based laptop, it also brings with it the same screen worries (cracking, creases, etc.) of folding-screen phones–just on a much larger scale. And despite being small when folded in half, this isn't exactly a light device. Asus says the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will weigh between 3.53 and 3.75 pounds – and that's without the ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad.
There's no denying, though, that this is an intriguing design. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Fold tried something similar in 2020, although that device was smaller and less powerful, while suffering software issues related in part to Windows 10. It will be interesting to see how far Asus, with the help of Intel and Microsoft (with Windows 11) has taken the folding screen laptop concept in the last couple years. Traditional clamshells and rigid screen convertibles will likely remain dominant for years to come. But perhaps there will be a spot on our best ultrabooks list for a folding-screen ultraportable later in 2022.