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I challenge you to find a better-looking laptop for under $1,000 than this

The Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED has one of the nicest screens I've seen on a laptop, and there's more to love underneath the hood.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer
Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Just when you think you've seen it all, you come across a laptop that leaves you speechless with the only word that leaves your mouth being a single "Wow". That was my honest reaction upon opening the $999 ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED for the first time. 

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It has, by far, the nicest OLED screen that I have seen all year. Some have come close to this level of visual quality; however, this laptop stands far above the rest, in my opinion.

View at Best Buy

When I first turned on the device, I was met with a blast of the richest golden yellow I'd ever seen. I was taken aback by how gorgeous it looked. This richness is the direct result of multiple factors. You see, the Zenbook 14 Flip covers the entirety of the DCI-P3 color gamut with a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. 

That number is notable because it gives the 14-inch display the ability to replicate the level of detail our eyes can see in real life. I swear, the output is so clear I could see the individual pixels on the screen. They look like fish scales packed tightly.

As you can imagine, watching content on this laptop is second to none. The vibrancy it delivers is fantastic. But of course, you can't enjoy a good movie without a good sound, and this computer certainly has the pipes. Audio brand Harman Kardon provides powerful speakers and its performance is further boosted by Dolby Atmos. The result is an immersive bubble of sound engulfing you.

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I tested the laptop by watching a few episodes of the Netflix anime Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, a show that is all about excessive, colorful gore. The rainbow array of bodily fluids from the zombies flooded my eyes with its saturated hues. The backgrounds looked vibrant. 

Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

And the speakers delivered details that I hadn't noticed before. For example, I heard zombies glurging in the back that I didn't know were there. A truck barreling down a street in a scene sounded like it was coming from outside. And the jangling of a piece of samurai armor sounded realistic.

Of course, there is more to the Zenbook 14 Flip beside the screen. The keyboard is nice and spacious, taking up a large amount of the entire bottom half. The trackpad may be a little small for some people. It doesn't have a lot of height to do, but it is pretty wide. As its name suggests, the touchscreen can completely be flipped all the way back, turning your laptop into a tablet. Something I found interesting is that the hinges connecting the two halves don't feel fragile. Quite the opposite, in fact: they're sturdy. 

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As cool as the Zenbook 14's flexibility may be, I am worried about possible damage. Having the screen folded back places the keyboard on the outside, so you'll want to be careful with what's around the laptop when you do flip things around. The casing is made from aluminum, giving it a strong, lightweight form factor -- it weighs a little over three pounds. I even found myself bouncing it on my arms a few times.

Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Regarding internal hardware, the Zenbook 14 Flip won't be winning any awards. Inside is a 13th-generation Intel Core i5-1340P processor alongside an Iris Xe graphics card. RAM is set at 16GB, which is good enough for most casual tasks and some demanding ones. 

For an everyday work and entertainment laptop, this configuration is fine. It gets the job done. I don't really recommend it for most creative endeavors. The screen would be great for drawing or work requiring accurate colors, but I don't see the laptop being useful for rendering high-level 3D graphics or video editing. It just doesn't have the hardware for it.

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It's not all bad, however. The storage size is 512GB, which is a good quantity for a work laptop. Battery life lasts about eight to eight-and-a-half hours before you need to grab the charger, so it'll get you through the day. It even comes with a decent amount of ports: one USB-A, two USB-C inputs, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack. I fully expected ASUS to install just a single USB-C port for charging and call it a day, so I'm pleasantly surprised the company decided to include the five.

ZDNET's buying advice

If you're looking for a partner laptop for business or entertainment, I don't think you can do any better than this machine. I genuinely enjoyed my week's time with the computer, and I would definitely recommend it to others in my life. 

There's only one configuration of the laptop; no other models are available. It costs $999 -- a fitting amount considering what you're getting. At that price, it outclasses other ultraportable laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, which has a slightly worse screen and fewer ports. I challenge anyone to find me a $1,000 computer that has the same value as this. 

I sincerely believe the Zenbook 14 Flip has the potential to be my favorite laptop of the year. At the very least, it's in the top 5. I loved it that much.

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