Asus has unveiled a wide variety of new laptops at CES 2022, from high-end gaming models to ultraportables and even a premium, futuristic folding-screen design. The company is pushed OLED displays in many of its new models, and the ZenBook 14X series offers portability as well as up-to-date specifications. Despite not being able to travel to CES and see these products in person, we have with us one of the company's brand new models, the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition. Here's a quick first look.
The Space Edition is, as its name suggests, a special edition of the ZenBook 14X. It's designed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of an Asus laptop being sent into space in 1997, to serve aboard the Mir space station for 600 days. It comes in a specially designed package with a depiction of Mir as well as space-inspired imagery. The laptop itself and its USB Type-C charger are enclosed within separate boxes within the main shipping package – the charger's box unfolds into a stand that can be used to prop the unit up on a table.
Apart from the packaging, a few space-themed tokens and stickers are included in the package. You can see the primary feature of this laptop through a cutout in the inner box – the 3.5-inch monochrome OLED screen on the outside of the lid. The “space capsule” design includes a message in morse code: Ad astra per aspera, meaning “through hardships, to the stars”.
When you turn on the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition for the first time, you'll see a predictably space-themed animation playing on the external screen. You can customise this through the preloaded Asus software – there are a few additional animation options, and you can choose your own custom text as well.
This might seem like a novelty but it will hopefully be put to good use for things like notifications and status updates so you don't have to open the lid of your laptop to see what's going on. Right now, it seems like an extension of the Anime Matrix screen on Asus' Zephyrus G-series laptops which exists largely for novelty value. Interestingly this isn't the first time we're seeing an external display from Asus – the company led a short-lived charge with its W5Fe laptop back in 2007, to take advantage of Windows Vista's SideShow functionality.
The external screen measures 3.5 inches diagonally, and has a resolution of 256x64 and 150nit maximum brightness
The space theme continues on the inside, with orange accents on the keyboard and more “space capsule” design on the wrist rest area. The 14-inch 4K 16:10 90Hz HDR OLED touchscreen definitely grabs attention, and seems extremely crisp and vibrant. Asus has certainly checked a lot of boxes, and also lists 100 percent DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage as well as Pantone certification.
On the inside, you get one of Intel's new 12th Gen ‘Alder Lake' mobile CPUs, with Core i9, Core i7, and Core i5 options listed. There's up to 32GB of LPDDR5 which isn't upgradeable, and up to a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD. Other specifications include Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. The battery capacity is 63Wh.
There are quite a few ports on the sides. On the left, you'll see an HDMI 2.0 output and two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports. On the right is a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port, 3.5mm audio jack, and microSD slot. This slot is unfortunately right in line with the laptop's vents and it might be possible to get them mixed up. As expected, this laptop runs Windows 11 out of the box.
This laptop has a full-sized HDMI port, microSD slot, USB Type-A, and Thunderbolt ports
Weighing 1.3kg and measuring 15.9mm thick, the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition is right in line with today's mainstream laptops. It can sit perched at an angle on the unfolded adapter box, but this isn't the most reassuringly sturdy mount. When flat on a table, Asus' ErgoLift hinge design lifts the rear a little so that the base is angled for more comfortable typing and better airflow.
The ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition will undoubtedly command a premium price. Asus says it will launch in India later in 2022 and be widely available. If you're looking for a laptop that will stand out anywhere, this would certainly fit the bill, but we'll wait till we have more information before deciding whether the extra display and design flair are worth choosing this model over its more conventional siblings.