Asus’ attempt at a foldable PC is more of a showcase for the new form factor, but even the company admits it.
The ZenBook 17 Fold OLED unveiled Thursday in India can do something other notebooks cannot: bend in half or fold out to the size of a 17-inch monitor. The foldable laptop costs Rs 329,990, a high price for a notebook while the overall PC market has declined due to high inflation and broader economic concerns.
Arnold Su, Business Head, Consumer and Gaming PC, System Business Group, Asus India, sees a similar market trajectory for foldable laptops as for foldable phones. “If you go back to the foldable phone segment four years back, it was a niche product category, but gradually the market has expanded,” Su told indianexpress.com in an interview.
Although Su admitted that sales volumes for the ZenBook 17 Fold will be low, he said there are customers who can afford a folding laptop and want to experience a device with a unique form factor. Asus is targeting frequent flyers, CEOs and enthusiasts with the ZenBook 17 Fold. “Market acceptance will determine the second and third generation of foldable laptops, but we anticipate this will be possible if the panel industry is able to lower costs,” Su said.
Because it uses a folding screen, the ZenBook 17 Fold can turn into a variety of devices, including a landscape 17-inch all-in-one PC if you use the built-in kickstand and put the included keyboard in front of it. When folded, it gets the size of a 12.5-inch clamshell laptop, and at 1.5 kg, the device weighs less than a MacBook Pro 14.
Foldable laptops are new to the market, with Lenovo the first major PC company to commercially launch its ThinkPad X Fold in 2020 after years of teasing. Asus may not be the first with a foldable laptop, but its ZenBook 17 Fold makes some improvements and offers significant upgrades over Lenovo’s version. New to Asus’ foldable laptop is a larger 17.3-inch screen, which is an OLED-type under plastic but looks and feels great. And inside, the specs are also solid with a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 U-series CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
Asus’ attempt at a foldable PC is more of a showcase for the new form factor, but even the company admits it. The foldable form factor still has many technical challenges that have yet to be ironed out, but Su said they are at least trying something new to push the needle and offer a new experience that a traditional laptop cannot.
Su said a lot of work went into developing the ZenBook 17 Fold. “There were a lot of technical challenges, especially on the hinge side,” he said.
Taiwan-based Asus, the world’s fifth-largest PC maker by volume, is not shy about trying out new laptop shapes. Over the years, the company has put its faith in dual-screen laptops that look like regular notebooks on the outside but have a secondary panel inside for multitasking. “When we launched the first dual-screen laptop, we didn’t know how consumers would accept it. Now, more than four years later, we have a laptop with two screens under a lakh. We see that foldable laptops have a similar story to the Duo,” Su said. Samsung is the largest supplier of foldable phones, a category it created itself. The South Korean giant is estimated to ship more than 10 million foldable phones this year. Currently, the foldable laptop segment is still a niche of the overall notebook market, with Lenovo and Asus the only two players targeting affluent buyers.
- Asus India exec believes the foldable laptop market circuit will follow that of foldable phones
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