Some laptops are meant to look flashy, while some focus on a specific feature to make them stand out. It looks like ASUS came up with something that ticks both of those in the form of the ZenBook S13. It’s got a premium-looking design, the slimmest bezels in town, and specs that allow you to do more.
Since the ZenBook S13 is about accomplishing things and looking good while doing it, you won’t see cheap plastic on this laptop. The S13 is built with an all-metal chassis with a spun-metal finish for that signature ASUS touch. It’s not just made for show as it’s durable as well.
ASUS says the laptop goes through a series of stress tests during production that include drop, shock, vibration, and even altitude tests. This ensures each unit meets the military standard for extra toughness. So don’t worry about accidentally subjecting it to stress inside your bag, for example.
Design-wise, the company went with an elegant Utopian Blue color and an ErgoLift that we’re pretty familiar with. Once the lid opens, it lifts the chassis for a more comfortable typing experience and better audio performance through its down-firing speakers. But, the most important function of this design is to allow airflow underneath for better cooling so it can perform longer and faster.
When you get past the entertaining lifting action, you will then be greeted by its 13.9-inch display that maximizes its borders. On paper, the company is proud to claim the title of the world’s slimmest bezels at 2.5mm and world’s largest screen-to-body ratio at 97 percent. The thin border does make the Full HD screen pop out more, especially when you’re watching videos online and on full screen.
The company was also able to make the laptop smaller than previous 13.9-inch models like its very own ZenBook 3 Deluxe. Weighing a little over a kilo, the ZenBook S13 is really easy to carry around and is compact enough to seamlessly fit inside backpacks.
As we mentioned during our first look, the clickable trackpad doesn’t give much space to move around. Although we really couldn’t expect much considering how thin and compact this thing is. Good news, though: There’s an embedded fingerprint sensor on the upper-right corner for an added layer of security. It scans fast and is a quicker way to access your account than typing your password.
Speaking of typing, the keyboard is a joy to use. The keys have good travel, are easy for fast typing, and are back-lit so using it at night or in a dimly lit environment is never a struggle. It’s an immediate appreciation for how it feels natural while typing.
Sound quality is sometimes overlooked, and I’ve always wanted my laptop to have good speakers. The ZenBook S13 features a bottom-firing Harman Kardon sound system and they actually deliver great quality. It can get pretty loud, too, filling up an average living room easily.
In terms of connectivity, there are two USB-C ports on the left side with support for fast charging, data transfers, and external displays. Meanwhile, a single USB-A is on the right side along with a 3.5mm audio jack for microphone/headphones input. These total to three USB 3.1 ports that are ready to accommodate input for working alone or presenting on a meeting. Oh, and there’s a microSD reader built into the S13.
And if you still need more, ASUS says there’s a bundled Mini Dock that adds two extra USB ports and HDMI for the S13. It basically has your necessities covered to deliver that presentation.
Of course, all these features mean nothing if the internals are not up to the task. Inside, this thin laptop is equipped with up to an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and an NVIDIA MX150 GPU. ASUS takes pride in the S13 being the world’s slimmest laptop with a dedicated discrete graphics.
If needed, you can add up to 16GB of RAM to maximize what it can do and thanks to this tandem, I was able to sit down, pull it out of my backpack, and do light video editing even on the go. It runs Windows 10 Pro and storage comes in at up to a 1TB SSD for faster boot up from sleep when you resume working.
For this part, I probably know what you’re thinking: How’s the battery life on something this small with not-so-basic internals and a larger display? Well, ASUS claims a battery life of up to 15 hours on a single charge.
In real-life usage, I was able to use it to browse the internet for a good hour and a half, edit photos while blasting music through its loudspeakers, and edit videos for about four hours before needing to plug in again. Basically, it lasted longer compared to similar laptops I’ve used before. As a cherry on top, it has fast charging, achieving about 70 percent of juice within an hour.
There hasn’t been an official list of prices for the different configurations, but according to reputable websites that have the same specs (Core i7, GeForce MX150, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD), it retails for US$ 1,399.
How the MatePad 11 fits in your workflow
Can it be a substitute laptop?
We often get asked what’s a good “budget” laptop. And there’s never an easy answer. Most decent options start at PhP 35,000 but the budget of people asking is capped at around PhP 30,000.
Then, we got to thinking — Do they really need a laptop, or just something that functions like one? Exploring this idea, one of our editors used the Huawei MatePad 11 for daily tasks, and this video chronicles the experience.
For any writer or editor, it’s impossible to get anything done without a reliable keyboard.
The task ranges from writing your own articles to copy-editing the staff’s work. You also have to respond to emails and correspondence within and outside of the team.
That’s a lot of typing. And while we’ve come a long way in terms of getting accustomed to hitting a flat surface to type, nothing can replace a good, functioning full-sized keyboard for some real productivity.
Thankfully, the MatePad 11 has a compatible Smart Magnetic Keyboard. It looks tiny at first, but the keyboard is full-sized and offers a good amount of travel for its size.
In fact, parts of the script for this video was written on the MatePad 11-Smart Magnetic Keyboard Combo.
It’s also sturdy and balanced enough that you can pull it out in a pinch and prop it up on your lap. From experience, this isn’t the case with most other similar setups due to the weight of the tablet.
Thankfully, the MatePad 11 is light enough that it won’t topple over even when placed on a not-so-even surface.
Access to your usual apps
What most people really need is access to some type of Office apps. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available right from the App Gallery.
You can opt to go with Microsoft Office and link your existing subscription. Or select any of the other set of Office apps available.
Microsoft Office runs perfectly fine on the MatePad 11. Quickly set it up and you’ll be balancing sheets, making decks, and writing essays in no time.
If what you need is on Google Docs or Google Sheets, there’s a way to quick-launch these apps so you can work on the document or work file you need to.
Since plenty of our work files are on Google Docs, this was the editor’s primary way of accessing the stuff needed to get things done.
And if you’re having trouble with anything else you normally use, you can always access them via the browser like you would on a laptop.
There’s also Petal Search baked into the App Gallery that’ll scour the web for sources of the apps you desperately want and need.
Huawei understands the pain points it had to deal with and has addressed them with the App Gallery and Petal Search combo.
The ease of switching from one app to another on a laptop is still pretty much unparalleled. But the MatePad 11 offers unique multitasking capabilities that offer an effective way to multitask.
What the editor found most useful in particular is how you can have smaller versions of the apps float on the screen.
And when minimized, it goes into this tiny app icon on the right side of the device functioning somewhat like a dock.
This is perfect for placing chat apps to look at messages at a glance. So even if the editor is in the middle of writing or copy-editing, glancing at messages is easy and doesn’t take the full attention away from the work at hand.
This is especially helpful for someone who juggles plenty of messaging apps.
Additionally, if you have a Huawei phone with you, the multi-screen collaboration feature takes this even further.
You can have your phone screen on the side and just open it up when needed. From here you can open any app whether that’s for messaging or something else you may need to reference for the work you’re doing.
It’s an incredible feature and one we hope will be adopted by other brands in some shape or form.
Not just for work
It’s recommended that you take short breaks in between tasks to keep yourself fresh and focused.
Breaks can be anything from standing up and walking around for a little bit, mindlessly browsing social media, or playing a quick game.
If the type of breaks you take fall on the latter two categories, the MatePad 11 is great for that as well.
The 120Hz refresh rate that this tablet has makes it a sight to behold and a joy to touch. Your general interaction with the device will feel incredibly fast and smooth.
It’s great whether you’re just swiping from one TikTok video to another or playing a quick round of whatever mobile game you’re into.
The M-Pencil is truly handy
Not everyone needs a stylus. But just because you don’t need one, doesn’t mean it can never come in handy.
An editor’s work also entails signing a lot of documents. This can be anything from loaner sheets or non-disclosure agreements.
It’s also great for providing a rough illustration of the visuals you need. Sometimes, the only way to really get your point across to visual artists is to show them what you have in mind, and then just let them work their magic on it.
On the Nebo app, you can draw rough sketches to show your graphic artist how you want something to look like. It’s a helpful guide and one that prevents miscommunication.
You can also use the app for taking notes and doodling which is a pretty underrated way of clearing your mind.
Mate just be what you need
The MatePad 11 is an excellent tablet. One that can be more than a stopgap to your laptop needs.
It gives you access to the work stuff that you need, while offering features that laptops in its price range aren’t capable of.
It’s a fine mate for work, play, and everything else in between.
Pricing and availability
The Huawei MatePad 11 retails for PhP 24,999 and comes with two freebies: Wireless Charging Table Lamp and MatePad 11 Cover
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This Compact $400 Home Gym Changes Everything!
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But could this be the future of home workouts? Watch our Tempo Move Hands-on now!
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Is this the right MacBook Pro for you?
Finally, the newly-redesigned M1 Pro MacBook Pros have finally arrived after years of waiting!
If you’ve been wanting to buy one today, you have to wait for our review video baking up real soon.
For the meantime, all the basic things you need to know about the new M1 Pro MacBook Pro are in this unboxing and hands-on video.
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