Announced in early 2016, the Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA is part of the ever-growing group of devices powered by an Intel Core M processor. And with its touchscreen display which can be flipped around by 360 degrees, the UX360CA also fits in nicely in the diverse family of 2-in-1 devices with Windows 10. With this in mind, it should be clear what Asus (cl)aims to offer: A thin and light convertible for mobile productivity as well as media consumption, which – thanks to the Core M processor – offers extraordinary long battery life (Asus claims up to 10 hours) and a fanless, quiet experience. I’ve been able to use out the device for some days in order to check whether those promises actually hold true in real life. And at least after the unboxing, I came away quite impressed by the device in various aspects. Now we’re here with a full review and tons of impressions!
Check out the video review as well:
Design and Build Quality
The Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA is a very premium and elegant device available in two different color options: ‘Icicle Gold’ or ‘Mineral Grey’. We received the ‘Mineral Grey’ model, which in my opinion looks just stunning! With its concentric circles on the top, the UX360CA perfectly matches Asus design language in the Zenbook family. In my opinion those circles look very elegant and definitely are – although a minor one – a differentiator to other notebooks from other manufacturers. Thanks to the thinness of 13 mm and the nicely rounded edges, the convertible also looks very nice from the side. But the device does not only look good, it also feels good: Made of aluminum, the device feels very premium in the hand. Given the moderate price of only $799 for the 512 GB version, it definitely feels much more premium than you might expect. The UX360CA’s hinge does feel very sturdy as well and according to Asus it’s tortured-tested for over 20’000 open/close cycles. With its weight of 1.3 kg, this Zenbook Flip also is very portable which I appreciate very much. In terms of ports, Asus did include two USB 3.0 ports, one USB type C port, a micro HDMI port (Asus includes an adapter for a full-sized HDMI port), a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack as well as a micro SDXC card reader. Additionally, you find on the left side of the device a power button, which is too small and too thin for my liking, and a volume rocker. Since the volume rocker is meant mainly for the use in tablet mode, the layout is “wrong” in notebook mode meaning that if you press the lower part of the rocker you actually increase the volume. I guess Asus expects users to either use the system control in the taskbar or the keyboard shortcut when in notebook mode – I for one though prefer to use the volume rocker when there is one on the device. On the UX360CA though, it takes a bit of time to get used to it.
Modes: Laptop, Tablet, Tent and Presentation mode
The obvious advantage of the UX360CA compared with traditional notebooks is of course its 360 degrees hinge. Thanks to this hinge you can use the device in four different modes: First of all, there’s the traditional laptop mode in which I used the device the most. My second most used mode was presentation mode, which is quite nice for watching YouTube videos or browsing the web. I barely used the device in tablet or tent mode: Even though the convertible is very light (1.3 kg) it’s just too heavy for a tablet and the tent mode did not really offer me any advantage over the presentation mode. At the end of the day, I expected to change modes more frequently but I actually used the device about 80-90 % of the time in notebook mode. Nevertheless, I appreciate having the possibility of switching modes and I definitely think that this is an important advantage over “normal” laptops – even when you use it most of the time in notebook mode.
As a blogger and student, I heavily rely on a well-functioning keyboard – it’s just not fun to write (extended) articles and essays on a bad keyboard. Luckily, with the Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA you’re getting an excellent keyboard. Despite the thinness of the device, Asus managed to include a keyboard with enough key travel and well-sized keys. The keys themselves also feel quite nice, although they could be a little less slippery in my opinion. Also if you press hard, the keyboard does bend ever so slightly (see Unboxing video). Sadly, the keyboard isn’t backlit.
One thin I don’t really like on my personal Asus notebook – the UX32LN – is the touchpad. Not only is the surface to little smooth, but the integrated buttons don’t feel very good either and they make just a terribly loud “click” tone. On the UX360CA though, Asus did use a very good touchpad: It’s reasonably big, the surface is comfortably smooth and all the important Windows 10 touchpad gestures work perfectly well. Furthermore, the integrated buttons are much better than on my UX32LN – although they’re still a bit too loud for me.
Regarding the display, Asus has two different versions up for sale: Either you can get a 1080p screen or a display with QHD+ resolution (3200 x 1800 pixels) while both versions have got a touchscreen (otherwise the whole 360 degrees thing wouldn’t make that much sense, right? 😉 ). The model we’ve been using for the last couple of days did have the Full HD panel – therefore all comments made in this section are valid for those models only.
As mentioned above, our model did “only”come with a Full HD panel. While I think 1080p is definitely acceptable for a 13.3 incher, I would have loved to get the QHD+ version because since I own the Surface Pro 4 I’m just used to very high-res screens and almost every other laptop screen does look unsharp in comparison – and the one of the UX360CA is no exception. But don’t get me wrong: The screen isn’t bad in terms of resolution, actually not at all. My problem, so to speak, is just that I’m spoiled by my Pro 4. And on the other hand, the 1080p version is very likely to offer longer battery life which is quite important as well – and for some might even be more important than having a crystal clear display. At the end of the day, it’s up to every one to decide individually what he/she does care about more.
In terms of brightness I’m very pleased with the Zenbook Flip UX360CA and I don’t have any major complains though I was a bit surprised that it doesn’t have an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adaption. But since I rarely use this function on laptops – due to the fact that it doesn’t work very effectively in my opinion – this wasn’t a huge bummer for me personally.
Also here I’m slightly spoiled by my experience with the Surface Pro 4 which in my opinion does have one of the best displays you can find on any laptop/tablet. Therefore, I immediately noticed that the blacks and whites seem to be a bit off (even more so when compared with the Pro 4’s screen). Once again, this complaining on a very high level and when you don’t always have another screen next to you in comparison you won’t be disappointed by the UX360CA’s screen in terms of colors.
In terms of viewing angles, the 13.3″ Full HD panel isn’t outstandingly good but it isn’t bad either. While there are definitely better displays available for laptops regarding angle stability the Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA does an acceptable job here. As is the case for all glossy touchscreen displays, also the one of this device does suffer from reflections. At the end of the day, I think you will very rarely run into a problem with the UX360CA regarding viewing angles.
As already mentioned a couple of times, the Zenbook Flip UX360CA does come with a 13.3″ (16:9) screen, which in my opinion hits the sweet spot for a laptop: You’ve got enough “space” to work on while you still get a portable device which you can easily use on the go.
Asus promises up to 10 hours of battery life and while we never achieved this value, the UX360CA definitely impressed me a lot in terms of battery life. Thanks to the battery-saving Core M3 processor and the 1080p resolution, you can get a very long usage time out of one charge. So if you’re looking for a device about which you don’t have to worry in terms of battery life, it’s well worth taking a look at the Zenbook Flip UX360CA. In terms of charging time, the device isn’t to bad either: Charging it fully takes about 2 hours. Furthermore, the device features an led light which either shines orange (while charging) or green (when the device is fully charged). While I do like this feature, I don’t quite get why Asus did put it on the left side of the device while the charging port sits on the right side of the device. For me this just doesn’t seem logical but at the end of the day this can certainly be categorized as First World Problem.
The two speakers of the UX360CA are placed on the bottom of the keyboard part and therefore are very good when you place the device on a table since the sound can resonate. In other modes or when using the device on your lap, the position of the speakers isn’t always ideal – especially in tablet mode since they are pointing away from you. But since they can get fairly loud this isn’t really a huge problem. Nevertheless, placing them next to the display – like on the Surface Pro 4 – would have undoubtedly been better (for all of the four modes) although I think this is probably not possible (or very hard to do) on a notebook where all the important components are in the base. In terms of quality, the speakers definitely are acceptable.
While the camera might not be that important for many people on a laptop, it’s definitely good to have a decent front camera which you can rely on, e.g. for Skype sessions. While the 720p HD camera on the device definitely doesn’t offer great video/picture quality, it should be perfectly fine for Skype. Nevertheless, I think it’s about time that Asus (and other manufacturers) start to use better camera modules for their notebook offerings.
The Asus Zenbook UX 360CA does of course run Windows 10 (Build 10586.494). Our review unit did come with Windows 10 Home but there are also configurations with Windows 10 Pro available. Unlike Samsung with their Galaxy TabPro S (check out our review here), Asus did choose to pre-install some third-party software. As someone who wants to have a Windows experience which is as a clean as possible from the first moment you turn on the device, I’m not a huge fan of this practise. Most annoyingly is of course the presence of the McAfee LifeSave suite (of course a version restricted to some days), which already after you’ve completed the setup of Windows does bother you with stupid pop-ups. Furthermore, Asus did pre-install a Dropbox tool which allows you to sign up for 25 GB of free storage – limited to 6 months of course. This on the other hand doesn’t bother me as much, although I’d still prefer to not have it installed on the device. Especially given that Asus has an own service called Asus WebStorage which offers cloud storage and there’s also OneDrive I think this could confuse customers. Additionally, there’s also a program from FarStone called “TotalRecoveryPro” installed (of course also only a trial version). Other than that there are also some applications from Asus installed, including Asus LiveUpdate.
At the end of the day, it’s sad to see so much bloatware on a device but other than that I don’t have any complains at all regarding software: Windows 10 works just perfectly fine on the Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA.
Being powered by an Intel Core M3 6Y30 (there are also Core M5 and Core M7 versions available) of Intel’s Skylake generation, the UX360CA definitely isn’t the most powerful notebook out there. But that’s also not what this device tries to achieve: On the contrary, it wants to provide you with enough power for all the daily tasks at home as well as on the go and offer you good battery life so that you can make use of this power as long as possible. With this in mind, the Asus Zenbook UX360CA does impress a lot: For me Core M processors are the best compromise between power and long battery life. And the best is yet to come: Thanks to its fanless design, you can work without being distracted by a spinning fan which for me probably was the single most important aspect of the device! It’s just a joy to have a completely silent experience! I do get this experience with my Core i5 Surface Pro 4 also most of the time – but not always. And whenever the fan kicks in on my Pro 4, it bothers me. Also the Core M3 offers me enough power for almost everything I have to do – I’ve already stated this in my Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review.
At the end of the day, the Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA really impressed me! For a relatively low price of $799 for the 512 GB you get a premium-feeling and nicely designed Windows 10 convertible which – thanks to the different modes – is great to use in almost every situation. Although, I mainly used the device in notebook I appreciated having the ability to flip the screen around – and even in notebook mode the touchscreen comes in handy, e.g. for closing windows. Furthermore, you get a very good keyboard and a touchpad which not only does have a nice smooth surface but also supports all the Windows 10 touchpad gestures. In terms of display, you might not get the sharpest display out there and also not the most vibrant but it’s still a pleasant experience. And thanks to the “low” resolution of 1080p, the battery life on this device extremely good. The speakers – while not ideally positioned – still are of decent quality. The camera on the front isn’t really great but should still be good enough for Skype sessions. On the software side of things I have to complain the most: Not because Windows 10 doesn’t run well on the UX360CA, but because Asus pre-installed tons of bloatware – in this aspect Samsung does much better with their TabPro S. Performance with the Core M3 is sufficient for most (daily) tasks and the completely silent operation is just a wonderful experience.
So all in all, the device really impresses in almost every aspect and if you’re in the market for a new convertible, it’s definitely worth checking out the Zenbook Flip UX360CA!