When Asus sent me the ZenBook Flip (the UX360CA model, for those to whom the extra letters matter) I’ll be honest. I didn’t really get it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know why I love my tablet. I also know why I need a laptop.
But a hybrid laptop? Why do I need something that can’t make up its mind (*whispers* and probably therefore ends up doing neither properly)?
On unpacking I was actually surprised – this thing looks and feels exactly like… a laptop. A solid, well-built sturdy laptop. Okay, so at under 1.5cm it’s thinner than my old keyboard, but the solid aluminium case just feels incredibly well built.
Unlike other hybrids I’ve looked at, the screen doesn’t actually detach. Oh no – that’s where the ‘360’ bit comes in: it’s hinged so that you can swivel it to any point, even folding it right back on itself so that it becomes tablet-esque.
The obvious question, of course, is that this whole thing lives and dies by those hinges; how good are they? Well, they look and feel solid, and the fold is stiff enough to hold the screen at any angle I’ve asked of it, while remaining responsive to just a light push.
Asus ZenBook Flip Review
The important technical bit is that the UX360CA is built on an Intel Core M processor – which means it’s not going to be any good for your serious gamer, or Final Cut Pro user, there’s just not enough oomph.
If you’re an average Joe looking for a flexible way of browsing, text editing, social media and streaming, and basic officey type work? It’s as good as anything out there. On a multi-tasking front I’ve sat and created a series of blog posts, kept an eye on social media and edited some pictures for the posts. I probably had 15 tabs open while streaming music, and still didn’t find any obvious lag. And 10yr old Bear pinches it all the time to play on LAN Minecraft worlds, and keep in touch with her fellow Home Ed friends across the country as they Skype/game simultaneously…
One of the first things I noticed on the first boot up was actually the lack of sound. There’s no fan, y’see, which means there’s no instant wheezing whirrrrrrrr which just gets louder the warmer the laptop gets. I’ve had this running all day, and it’s as silent at 4 in the afternoon as it is at 10 in the morning. The lack of fan is fine – it seems to keep itself happily at the right temperature with no heating issues. Though the night we streamed a film and without thinking plopped the laptop on the sofa… and then flipped a rug across the front to dim the light of the screen? Yeah, that was pretty hot underneath (very very burning hot, to be fair) when I lifted it 2hrs later. But remember not to nestle it deep into a nest of cushions while it’s working, and you’re good.
So – the flippy-roundy screen. Like I said, I didn’t get it.
Then I used it.
And it’s bluddy marvellous!
I use it as a straight laptop when I’m working, but then the kids nab it for some Netflix, and they flip it into a ‘V’ to make it it’s own stand (and yes the clever little machine knows when you’ve flipped into tablet, and automagically adjusts into tablet mode for you. So clever). Sitting in front of the tv of an evening, I fold it right back so that I have access to a tablet for jotting things down, searching things up as necessary (you know; ‘I must remember to go and look up that company/find that album/watch the show tomorrow’. And ‘who’s that bloke?’ or ‘who was that woman that played that teacher woman in that show we watched last year?’ Oh internets, how did we get by without your instant answering of vague questions?).
This also makes it perfect for travel – fold it back and you can watch a movie o the train or plane, with it safely sitting on the little tray tables which just won’t hold a laptop.
On a connectivity note, you’re definitely in laptop territory; having this many options is a big bonus – and surprising on such a ridiculously skinny bit of kit. On the left there’s a USB, and SD card reader (a full-sized one, which pleased all the photographers in the house no end), volume toggles and the power button (careful – until you get used to the feel of them you’ll be constantly hitting the sleep button when you try and turn the sound down. Repeatedly. Dagnabbit). On the right there’s another USB port, a combined headphone/mic 3.5mm input, a microHDMI port and a USB-C connector (for super-fast data transfers).
Plus the main power jack which is helpfully built into a small ‘bump’ in the case so that even in the dark you can tell it apart and wont try ramming the power jack into the audio jack slot when your action film is mid-final-chase and the warning comes up that your battery is dying… allegedly. *cough*.
Actually that is one of the down sides I’ve regularly noticed – the keyboard isn’t backlit, so if you’re operating it in a darkened room you’ll find yourself peering at it like an old lady without her glasses. And non-touch typists will need to put a lamp on for any extended work!
As an aside, the ZenBook Flip does also comes packaged with a super-handy micro-HDMI converter, so that you can attach direct to your TV HDMI ports, and stream straight onto the big screen. And while you’re doing so, take a sec to bless the presence of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi – and no I didn’t know what that was either. It’s basically ultra-fast speeds that are three times faster than older Wi-Fi generations, alongside stronger, more stable signals. I’ve certainly been able to stream 2hr movies in HD in the deadest signal area of the house (which usually causes the 3yr old tablet to hiccup frequently), without a single interruption.
It also supports the Intel WiDi technology, so even without a cable attached you can stream music, movies, photos and games to any WiDi-compatible HDTV.
Asus ZenBook Flip Review Conclusion
If you’re looking for a sleek, light laptop with all the convenience of a tablet, this girl’s your man. If you see what I mean.
As a family utility and everyday workhorse, I’m not sure the UX360CA can be beaten. I’ve fallen in love with the flexibility of the rotating screen (I actually prefer it to a detachable screen which leaves an awkward keyboard to try and not-lose), and with a 12hr battery life if you’re an average user wanting to browse, shop, watch movies or do some basic work, then the ZenBook Flip UX360CA is going to do everything you ask of it, as fast as you want it to.
The latest version of the ASUS ZenBook Flip is currently available at just under £600 .