Our biggest beef with most 2-in-1s is their short battery life. Thanks to its efficient Core m3 processor, the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA (starting at $699, reviewed at $749) lasted a very strong 10 hours on our battery test. This fanless 3-pound convertible also runs super-quiet and sports a colorful 13-inch display you can use in laptop or tablet mode. The UX360CA isn't very speedy, but overall, it's a good value.
Asus' ZenBook Flip has an attractive aluminum design that's dark gray with a hint of purple (the company calls it mineral gray). Asus' logo is printed on the lid surrounded by faint concentric circles. It looks nice, but Asus has used this color and general design on several of its ZenBooks for a while now.
Lifting the lid reveals the 1080p touch screen, island-style keyboard and a spacious touchpad. I appreciated the use of premium materials, though, as the ZenBook Flip's chassis is built entirely from aluminum.
The ZenBook Flip is light and portable at 3 pounds, 12.6 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches. The 3.5-pound Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (12.7.x.8.8 x 0.8 inches) and the 3.4-pound Yoga 710 (12.7 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches) are slightly heavier. At 2.4 pounds, the HP Spectre x360 13t (12.8 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches) is a true featherweight.
As a 2-in-1, the ZenBook Flip can be used in four different modes: a laptop, a tablet (fold the keyboard behind the screen), a stand (place the keyboard upside down with the screen up) and a tent (an upside-down V).
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The ZenBook's sides are lined with just enough ports to support your most important peripherals. On the left side is a USB 3.0 port and an SD card reader, while the right side is home to USB 3.0 and Type-C ports, a micro HDMI and a headphone jack.
The 1080p touch screen on the ZenBook Flip produces vivid colors and has wide viewing angles. When I watched the trailer for Passengers, dark red bottles on shelves behind the spaceship's bar popped against a beige wall, and the ship's blue thrusters really stood out against the blackness of space. The screen had a slightly warm tint, which made actors Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence look a bit orange. Despite the reflective quality of its touch screen, I could see the picture clearly at 75 degrees from the center of the screen.
The vibrant display on the ZenBook Flip reproduces an excellent 102 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which surpasses the 95 percent ultraportable category average. The Spectre's display was even more vivid (111 percent), but the Yoga 710 (96 percent) and the Inspiron 13 (63 percent) fared worse.The ZenBook Flip's panel has a 0.7 Delta-E color accuracy score (0 is better). It falls far below the average (2.1), but is better than the Spectre (1) and the Yoga 710 (1.1). The Inspiron 13 is even more precise at 0.5.The screen's average brightness was 298 nits, just short of the 300-nit average. The Spectre was even brighter at 308 nits, while the Inspiron 13 (244 nits) and the Yoga 710 (288 nits) were both dimmer.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The cheap plastic keyboard on the ZenBook Flip feels like a step down in quality, compared with the rest of the laptop. Even worse, the chassis buckled when I typed with the required 59 grams of force. Still, the keys were responsive, and I typed at 106 words per minute (just below my average range of 107 " 110 wpm) and with an error rate of 3 percent (a tad higher than my usual 2 percent).
The 4.1 x 2.8-inch touchpad provides plenty of room for Windows 10 gestures, and I was able to swipe and scroll with aplomb. It was accurate and never stuck, so I had no problem browsing the web.
I wouldn't listen to music on the ZenBook Flip at anything other than maximum volume. When I listened to Adele's "River Lea," I filled a small conference room with sound when I made it as loud as possible. I could make out Adele's powerful voice booming from the speakers and detected the tambourines and drums easily. However, I had a hard time distinguishing the organs and guitars when listening on the ZenBook Flip.
I opened up the ICEpower AudioWizard app, but found that none of the pre-programmed equalizers made a positive difference, so I chose to leave it on the default music setting.
The ZenBook Flip I reviewed included a 0.9-GHz Intel Core m3-6Y30 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Despite its low clock speed, the convertible was able to multitask without breaking too much of a sweat. I had 20 tabs open in Google Chrome, one of which was streaming a 1080p episode of Last Week Tonight on YouTube, before I noticed a bit of lag when scrolling. When it came to our synthetic benchmark tests, the Core m3 CPU couldn't stand up to the Core i processors you usually find in this price range.
On the Geekbench 3 overall performance test, the ZenBook Flip notched a score of 4,804, falling below the ultraportable category average of 5,457. The Yoga 710 (5,965, Core i5-6200U), the Inspiron 13 (6,458, Core i5-6200U) and the Spectre (6,829, Core i7-6500U) all performed better.
The ZenBook Flip took 30 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of mixed-media files, a rate of 169.6 megabytes per second. That's faster than the category average (156.7MBps), the Yoga 710 (130.5 MBps) and the Inspiron 13 (154.2 MBps). Only the Spectre (173.4MBps) had a faster SSD.
It took the ZenBook Flip 6 minutes to complete our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro, in which it paired 20,000 names and addresses. That's faster than the average of 6:30. But the ZenBook Flip lagged behind the Spectre (4:02), the Yoga 710 (4:31) and the Inspiron 13 (4:54).
The integrated Intel HD Graphics 515 GPU in the ZenBook Flip isn't meant for heavy gaming, so hold off on that copy of Forza Horizon 3. The notebook earned a score of 52,374 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, just surpassing the category average of 51,412. The Inspiron 13 and the Spectre, both with Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU, were better at 61,252 and 62,054, respectively. The Yoga 710's discrete Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU was the strongest with a score of 80,223.
The ZenBook Flip lasts far longer than other 13-inch 2-in-1s on a charge, enduring 9 hours and 58 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which continuously browses the web over Wi-Fi. The ultraportable average is 8:02, with the Yoga 710 (8:55) and the Spectre (8:26) at least an hour behind the Asus. The Inspiron 13 had the worst battery life of the group, and conked out after 7:06.
The 720p webcam on the ZenBook Flip takes spectacularly fuzzy photos. In a selfie I snapped at my desk, my entire face was covered in visible pixels. To make matters worse, the light blue stripes on my shirt appeared gray and my eyes (also blue) appeared to have little color at all. The colors got slightly better when I moved to a more lighted area, but the fuzziness remained.
The ZenBook Flip has a fanless design that stayed nice and cool when we put it up against our heat test. After streaming more than 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, the bottom of the laptop reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit, the center of the keyboard hit 83 degrees and the touchpad measured a cool 79 degrees. Each of these measurements are below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees.
Software and Warranty
There's barely any extra software on the ZenBook Flip. The most notable app is the Splendid Utility, which lets users adjust the screen to reduce blue light or make hues more intense. Standard Windows 10 bloatware is also on board: Twitter, Flipboard and Candy Crush Soda Saga are pinned in their usual places in the start menu.
Asus sells the ZenBook Flip UX360CA with a one-year warranty. See how Asus fared on our Best and Worst Brands ranking and Tech Support Showdown.
Our review unit cost $749 and comes with a 0.9-GHz Intel Core m3-6Y30 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. For $699, you can get the exact same computer, just with a smaller 256GB SSD.
The Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA is a lightweight notebook that trades performance for a quiet, fanless design. It has a vivid display that you can customize to your liking, and you won't spend too much time uninstalling junk from your machine. The best part about this 2-in-1 is its long battery life.
Other convertibles in this price range have ditched the prospect of going fanless in favor of more performance. If you can deal with some fan noise, the $799, 14-inch Lenovo Yoga 710 is more powerful, though you'll have to give up some battery life. If you have some extra scratch set aside, the HP Spectre x360 13t (starting at $899) is the nicest-looking convertible we've tested so far, with a beautiful display and powerful speakers.
But if you value pin-drop silence and endurance, the ZenBook Flip UX360CA is worth your money.