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Friday, April 16, 2021

Asus VivoBook 14 Flip review, specifications, performance and more

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Asus’ new generation of VivoBook laptops might be facing a stiff challenge to establish themselves as the de facto gold standard as far as your everyday laptops go but there’s something different about the latest Asus VivoBook 14 Flip that catches the eye. Also Read – Asus ROG Phone 5 could be the first to offer a whopping 18GB RAM, listing reveals

While the new 2-in-1 notebook from Asus targets the customer base with a penchant for hybrid laptops, it offers a lot more than what you’d find in your premium laptops of today. Also Read – Asus ROG Phone 5 launch date revealed, dot matrix secondary display teased

We had the opportunity of using the Intel version of the VivoBook 14 Flip for some time and after I was done, I had plenty to chew on. So, at near about Rs 70,000, what all does the VivoBook 14 offer in its price segment and should you consider buying this 2-in-1 hybrid? Let’s dive deeper and find out what makes the VivoBook tick in our full review. Also Read – Asus ROG Phone 5 India launch likely in March: Everything we know so far

Design

Asus hasn’t shied away from chest-thumping about the laptop’s design philosophy. The metal chassis and the smooth aluminum finish accentuate the overall ergonomics and lend that extra durability we all like in our laptops. The overall package is pleasing to the eye.

Despite the metallic shell, the laptop inconspicuously manages to pull off a lightweight form at just 1.5 kilos. That’s slightly heavier than the 13-inch MacBook air but by no means a deal-breaker. I liked the convertible design of the laptop which gives it an advantage over traditional laptops in the market. Not only does that help with the ‘quick close and slip into the bag’ functionality, but works perfectly for on-the-go users.

Though it has a sleek form factor, the VivoBook manages to punch above its weight when it comes to housing a rich array of ports. While on the right you get a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port that doubles as a charging port, a USB-A 3.2, a headphone jack, a microSD card reader, and an HDMI port; the left side houses a USB 2.0 port and a Kensington lock for extra security.  

I felt that the hinge on the laptop needed to be stiffer. While carrying the laptop around holding one end, the display kept dropping due to the loose hinges and that is a big red mark. Additionally, it’s not easy to open the lid with one finger. So rest assured, it won’t open without physical force.  

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Like most smartphones these days, the VivoBook 14 Flip also comes with a fingerprint reader on the trackpad that helps with quicker login. I grew to like the added feature in the course of my time with the laptop and I feel all laptops should offer the option of biometric login with the laptop.

The keyboard offers a 1.4mm key-travel and 18.7mm wide pitch with independent function keys, so the keyboard is all aces in my book. However, the backlight on the keyboard made it almost impossible to see the characters on the keys under lights, which is where I struggled the most. Also, I feel the touchpad should have been bigger.

An aspect that I liked about the design is what the company calls ‘ErgoLift’. This means that the keyboard gets a slight lift when the bottom of the front lid touches the base and that subsequently offers a very comfortable typing angle. I am not saying that all laptop users would like this feature, but the majority would.

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Display

The 14-inch touch screen full HD display is a vibrant one and offers decent viewing angles. It’s reasonably bright, however, I would not recommend using the laptop outdoor as the panel is reflective. Watching content and editing photos was a visual treat on this panel and the 82 percent screen to body ratio is the icing on the cake. The company has upped its game by adding its own Iris Xe Max Graphics, which is capable of accelerating workloads for smoother 3D rendering and performance.

Although, for all its positives, it’s time for you to take the rough with the smooth. I struggled while using the laptop outdoors in brightly lit environments. Despite boosting the display to peak brightness, reading texts and viewing content on the screen was a challenge. Word of advice; stay indoors as much as possible – both to avoid catching COVID and getting the best out of your display.

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Performance

In terms of performance, the Asus VivoBook 14 Flip comes with an Intel 11th gen Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB LPDDR4X 4266 RAM, and 512GB of PCIe SSD storage. This hardware setup makes it ideal for students and ones in the corporate sector. It manages to take care of some of the menial everyday tasks like emails, Zoom calls, and PowerPoint presentations but also comes with a little extra boost if you really want to put it to the test.

I was juggling between multiple Chrome and Microsoft Edge tabs, and the processor stood the test of this rigorous onslaught of one tab after another. No lag whatsoever.

For that extra boost, the VivoBook 14 comes with a dedicated Performance mode that can increase CPU performance by 20 percent versus the Standard mode. Even playing high-definition games at 60 fps wasn’t a problem. The Tiger Lake CPU does offer significant improvements in gaming performance compared to the 10th Gen CPU with UHD graphics.

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Speaking of games, I was able to play a few rounds of Valorant, and ran Batman: Arkham Knight for a considerable amount of time. While Valorant on the laptop was running on the standard definition graphics setting that the website offers, I was running Batman at 60 fps, high definition settings, with other graphic settings like motion blur and anti-aliasing on.  I kept texture resolution at normal because beyond that I would be pushing the envelope.

After my graphic-intensive sessions, I did notice that the laptop was considerably hot so I would not recommend this hardware if you are going to be spending most of the time punching on the W, A, S, D keys.

Since all that processing power is bound to take a toll on the hardware inside, Asus has bundled a dedicated cooling system inside to help cool things down. Also, if things are getting too loud because of the fan inside rotating at thousands of rotations per minute, you have the option of activating the Whisper mode to bring the noise level down to a minimum.

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Data transfers via the hybrid laptop are fast thanks to a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port which can support up to 40 Gbps data bandwidth and up to 8K display output. I was able to send a 5GB video to my portable SSD in less than 12 seconds which I feel is more than sufficient.

I wouldn’t use it as my video editing hardware, but it can certainly manage a few heavy tasks here and there.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the audio quality of the laptop. The integrated Harmon audio didn’t make me feel the need to run for headphones every time I wanted to watch content on the device. Even the mic quality is excellent. In hindsight, the 720p HD web camera is below average and struggles in low light.

I didn’t spend a lot of time using the laptop on tablet mode. It may be light, but not light enough to be lugged around like a tablet. The feedback from the digital pen is good and works well for people who would want to use it for designing and other creative projects. It’s not as seamless as the Apple Pencil but not bad either.

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Battery

I really don’t want to make a song and dance about it, but the battery life could have been better. With the 42 Whr 3-cells lithium-polymer battery, I managed to get around 4-5 hours from a full charge while running basic applications like Outlook, Word, Google Chrome. I also managed to squeeze in a few high-definition YouTube videos.

What is a bit of a relief is that the 45W fast charger bundled in the box balances things well as I was able to charge a dead laptop to 70 percent in an hour. That’s decent.  

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Should you buy it?

There is no doubt that the VivoBook has been meticulously designed to cater to your everyday needs. It checks most of the boxes but left me a bit vexed in certain departments like the loose hinge and the overtly reflective display.

At Rs 67,990, the VivoBook 14 Flip is a decent option. Considering that it competes with other hybrids like the Dell Inspiron 14 and the Lenovo IdeaPad C340 in this price segment, the VivoBook has its work cut out in terms of price and performance.

I liked the design; the overall ergonomics can give even the most premium laptops a run for their money but it’s still missing that oomph that I would want in my daily driver. High-definition multimedia editing and long gaming sessions will take a toll on the hardware and that where I feel the hybrid missed out on a few points.

If you’re not looking for a workhorse and are willing to compromise on some of the above shortcomings, then the VivoBook 14 is a good option to consider.





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