Pictures: SADC

The new ASUS ZenBook Duo UX482 generated a lot of buzz during the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021. The head-turning model received positive reviews from the tech media and even clinched the Best PC or Tablet in the Engadget Best of CES 2021 Awards. 

Intrigued by the design, I wanted to know the story behind this award-winning laptop. I had the privilege to sit down with Ding Chuen Wong, from Singapore ASUS Design Center, who is one of the key Industrial Designers working on the ZenBook Duo UX482 to find out more.

Ding Chuen sketching

Ding Chuen Wong, one of the key designers of ZenBook Duo UX482

Learning from the ZenBook Duo UX481 experience 

Ding Chuen began his design journey after the release of ZenBook Duo UX481. He and the design team started to examine the product reviews and feedback from users to pinpoint areas for improvement. They also sought advice from the designers of Zenbook Duo UX481 and Pro Duo UX581. 

Ding Chuen discusses design with Loi

Ding Chuen seeking advice from Wean Fong Loi, a designer who worked on ZenBook Duo UX481 and Pro Duo UX581

“Based on users’ experiences with the ZenBook Duo UX481, we understand what the users want,” recalls the self-assured designer. “They want small form factor yet have better viewing angle on the second screen.”

At the same time, the new model needed to continue with the strengths of the previous model. He explains, “The UX481 was successful because of the dual-screen usage scenarios – people want the multitasking experience while keeping it lightweight and portable.”

“Knowing this, we challenged ourselves to make the new Duo thinner than its predecessor.”

Side view comparison of two laptops

Side view comparison of ZenBook Duo UX481 and UX482

Listening to users’ feedback

With the challenge set, Ding Chuen and his team worked on designs that improved the second screen experience while figuring out ways to reduce the thickness. The team also placed emphasis on addressing users’ concerns on the second screen to make improvements in this new model. They noted the feedback on the angle and the brightness of the second screen.

They needed to ensure that there is a gap between the screen and the components inside the laptop. Without the gap, the screen and components could overheat easily, eventually destroying it.

Close up of sketch

By collaborating with the various stakeholders, they designed a hinge that raised the screen angle to 7 degrees. This design led to a bigger thermal vent that provided better airflow. The screen brightness can even hit 400 nits now.

Together, the improved second screen features help to maximize the overall efficiency and even achieve a four-sided frameless Nanoedge display.

Maintaining portability and a slim form factor

In this refreshed model, the new hinge design emphasized the second screen, even when the laptop is closed, which made it even thinner. The team was thrilled with the new idea. “When I first proposed this, everybody was very excited because it’s something new and drew attention to the second screen from the side,” the Senior Industrial Designer gushes.

The proposed idea went through several design iterations to what we see in the product today. The design team worked tirelessly to examine and test different ways to position the second screen and making the chassis look slicker. They did proportional studies to accentuate the second screen and protect the hinge.

Early sketch ideas of ZenBook Duo UX481

Initial sketch ideas and studies for the ZenBook Duo UX482

Working closely for a coherent design

While refreshing the design, Ding Chuen collaborated with Ponien Chen, an Industrial Designer from the Taipei team, who focused on designing ZenBook UX582. The designers had to find new ways to address the challenges while keeping the tuning fork design language of ZenBook Duo UX481 and Pro Duo UX581.

“I worked very closely with Ponien to design the laptops,” recollects Ding Chuen. “We inspired each other during the iterative design process. We had a lot of discussions on our ideas online frequently. And when I was in Taipei, we made use of Rapid Prototyping tools to make a 1:4 scale model as well as a series of soft and hard models to realize our concepts.”

Both ZenBook Duo UX482 and the ZenBook Pro Duo UX582 are similar in design. Having similar design elements that is achievable in both models is essential. Ding Chuen highlighted, “When I’m proposing design elements for the Duo, the elements are also adopted by the Pro Duo and vice versa. This means that we can create a design that works best for both models.”

By doing so, users can get the best quality in the ZenBook Duo and Pro Duo in terms of design and manufacturing.

DC at laptop doing 3D renderings

Creating 3D renderings of ZenBook Duo UX482

End of a journey?

For the new ZenBook Duo UX482, Ding Chuen and the design team were able to improve the thermal airflow and provide a better second screen experience, while making it slimmer than the ZenBook Duo UX481.

DC holding ZenBook Duo UX482 to show side view angle

This triumvirate of achievement was a result of understanding the users. “ASUS is always looking ahead to meet the future productivity and creative needs of our users,” shares Ding Chuen. “We are always hearing and getting feedback from our users.”

As the journey continues for the design team, we are certainly anticipating more innovative solutions from the design team.

Images of ZenBook Duo UX482

Learn more about ZenBook Duo UX482 here

What are your thoughts about the design? Drop them in the comments below.