Review: Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA

N ew hybrid laptops are even more common than cookery shows these days, but Asus’ ZenBook Flip UX360CA really does stand out from the crowd. The first thing you notice is its gorgeous metal chassis. With its spun metal finish, slim 13.9mm profile and 360-degree hinge, it looks stunning. In comparison, the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 seems positively clunky.

The Asus’ chassis brings a welcome aura of durability to the UX360CA as well. Combined with an equally sturdy pair of hinges, the UX360CA feels like it could withstand thousands of flips and contortions – which is, after all, the point.

As a laptop display, the UX360CA’s 13.3in Full HD IPS panel is one of the best I’ve seen at this price. I admit its sRGB colour gamut coverage of 83.3% could be better – its red representation is a little lacking, meaning photos won’t reproduce perfectly – but only photographers are likely to notice problems. Likewise, its contrast ratio of 1,097:1 is highly respectable, and a maximum brightness of 298cd/m2 means it’s just about viewable in the sun.

The chiclet keyboard is a little spongy, with not much key travel, and while it’s notably superior to that of the Miix 700 (see p42), I wouldn’t want to use it for extended periods of time. The touchpad, on the other hand, proved the perfect size for my chunky fingers, performing all of Windows’ multitouch actions with ease.

The UX360CA comes in a variety of configurations. Starting at $1,399 for the basic Core m3 model on test here, you’ll also find more expensive versions with Core m5 and Core i5-6200 processors, as well as a range of supporting configurations that stretch up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. 

My review model came with a dual-core 900MHz Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Not surprisingly, this particular configuration struggled with our rigorous 4K multimedia benchmarks, producing a slow score of 20 overall. Coders, video editors and graphic designers should look elsewhere. 

For more general use, though, the UX360CA should be perfectly fine, and its integrated Intel HD Graphics 515 chip means that even light gaming will be possible. In Dirt Showdown, for instance, I managed a respectable 50.6fps on Low at 1,280 x 720, and Minecraft never dipped below 30fps on its default settings.

Battery life is respectable too. Running for 7hrs 52mins in our continuous video playback test, with brightness set to 170cd/m2, it’s far better than the Dell Inspiron 13 5000’s paltry 5hrs 26mins. 

With its chassis measuring just a shade under 14mm thick, Asus has squeezed a surprising number of connections into the UX360CA, including two full-sized USB 3 ports. Any thinner and there wouldn’t be enough room for them on the base of the laptop.  Also present is a USB Type-C port, a full-sized SD card reader, a micro-HDMI port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll need to use its 802.11ac Wi-Fi to get online, with no space for an Ethernet connector. 

A gorgeous design and excellent battery life mean the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA is a great alternative to more expensive 2-in-1 hybrids such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 and Dell Inspiron 13 5000. The beautifully made chassis is one of its biggest highlights, helping to set it apart from similarly priced laptops that are usually made out of plastic. 

Yes, its overall performance is poor compared to its laptop peers: you can buy the same kind of speed from Asus’ own UX305CA for $1,299, after all. If you’re looking to save money and aren’t worried about the 360-degree hinge, then the UX305CA remains the mid-range laptop of choice. But if you want a little more versatility, the ZenBook Flip UX360CA is an excellent buy. 

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