It’s possible to love a video game. To be devoted to it, to value what it does for you and how it makes you feel, and to want the best for it. Not in the same way you love a person — or at least, I hope not. But take a look at any major fan convention for video games, movies, TV, or almost anything that develops a subculture, and you can see this love is real, active, and powerful.
And of course, profitable.
And if it’s possible to love a video game, then of course it’s possible to fall out of love. To feel disconnected from what first drew you to it. To realize that it isn’t giving you everything it once did, and you can’t give it what it needs from you. Especially if what it needs is regular digital purchases in order to get a competitive advantage in gameplay.
I loved Overwatch once. I don’t anymore. How that happened is, I think, worth examining. This Dear John letter is a broad history of the game itself, and its relationship with both its own players and the company that made it.
The honeymoon phase
In 2016, Overwatch was a big deal. A Team Fortress 2-style team shooter, made by the people who brought us Starcraft and Diablo, with incredible character designs that looked like Pixar had decided to reboot G.I. Joe? Players couldn’t get enough of it. And indeed, for the first couple of years Overwatch was a 600-pound Winston of the gaming landscape, dominating game coverage, showing up constantly on Let’s Plays, and causing an excited titter with each newly-announced character and map.
Fast forward six years, and the launch of Overwatch 2 seems to have come and gone with barely a ripple. Between a contentious shift to free-to-play, serious launch problems, and a cloud of problematic exhaustion hovering over Activision Blizzard itself, the shine has come off of the orange stretchy yoga pants.
Despite being obsessed with the original game for years, slurping up every bit of lore, buying every licensed LEGO set, attending a live Overwatch League esports event, and even designing my own Overwatch keyboard, I haven’t been able to bring myself to even enter a single game of Overwatch 2. I can’t force myself to care about it, even for free. There are just too many issues, both internal and external, that make my brain actively reject the new title. I can’t help but stare at the little brick D.Va mech on my desk, and think about all the things that have gone wrong.
A roster full of missed opportunities
Without a doubt, Overwatch’s greatest strength has always been its character design. Each fighter is vibrant, distinct, and interesting. You just want to inspect every little detail, like the best action figures. (In fact, these characters do make pretty great action figures.) And despite being as widely varied as a cyborg ninja, a ballerina sniper, a robot centaur, and a hamster in a 6-foot mecha ball, the art design is so skillfully executed that all of them feel part of the same day-after-tomorrow cartoon future. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that there’s a bit of PG-13 sexiness to almost all of them, even the grizzled old veterans. Blizzard knows how the bread gets buttered.
But the designs themselves are only part of the appeal. With absolutely incredible animation (again, shades of Pixar) and skillful voice acting, the characters seem like they could walk out of a 6-on-6 deathmatch and into an anime. They kind of do: while prerendered cinematics don’t get the same gee-wow reactions they did back in the days of the original Warcraft and Starcraft, the short vignettes created to flesh out the characters and the world of Overwatch remain some of the best parts of the property.
And herein lies the problem. Overwatch has this wonderful cast of characters, brought to life with loving animation and voice acting, and you even get to inhabit them in gameplay. But when you try to dig deeper into the story surrounding the characters, you find yourself shoveling water out of a shallow puddle. Despite most of these characters having a deep backstory with the vaguely Avengers-esque Overwatch organization, the game’s story starts — and effectively ends — with Winston “reactivating” the team after years of downtime in the original intro video.
What happens next? Ostensibly, the gameplay of Overwatch 1…which never actually progresses the story. It’s so vague and ill-defined that you can play on a team filled with Overwatch “good guys,” Talon “bad guys,” and the various in-between mercenary types, and it makes sense. Because there’s no sense at all. You don’t necessarily need it for a session of team shooting, but for those of us who’ve been craving actual progression and depth for these characters, it feels like we’re all Tantalus trying to get a sip.
Every gorgeous cinematic is essentially prologue, much of which we already knew. Even the few seasonal event missions, repeated every year since launch ad nauseam, have to take place before the “reactivation” start of the story, because otherwise they don’t make sense with the paper-thin narrative of the gameplay. Every one of the dozens of comics and short stories Blizzard has given us is adding to a huge mountain of prelude, every new character has to have something they were doing before Winston presses that pivotal — and ultimately meaningless — button.
Overwatch was sold as an ever-expanding roster of fantastic characters. And it is, or at least it was, until work unceremoniously paused for the developers to create a pseudo-sequel. But even fighting games and MOBAs, whose characters barely ever go deeper than “person who fights other people,” have stories that progress and resolve to a certain degree. Overwatch doesn’t, and never has. As a fan who genuinely loves a lot of these characters, watching them remain frozen in time even as the game ostensibly progresses is something I find incredibly frustrating.
Gameplay is a moving target
Overwatch’s gameplay struggled with a bit of an identity crisis at launch. Broadly similar to Team Fortress 2, it encouraged fast-paced coordination with a team, with a secondary feature of constantly switching between its many heroes to counter the choices of the other side. But while TF2 could have huge teams and dozens of active players in its broad offense, defense, and support roles, the more varied, specialized cast in Overwatch had shades of MOBAs like League of Legends.
While the multiplayer matches never ceased to be fun, issues cropped up almost immediately. The combo of shields and turrets proved to be extremely difficult to crack without precision teamwork, especially when combined with the self-propelling cart objective. Some characters like Hanzo and Symmetra had abilities that were overpowered, making them nearly unstoppable in specific situations, while traditional shooter roles like Widowmaker’s sniper or Tracer’s scout were all but useless without a high-skill player behind them.
And of course, you had the usual problem of people missing the point of a team-based shooter: the team is more important than the shooting. Even in competitive modes, players would flock to the more viscerally fun offensive-based characters, collecting kills while tanks and supports collected dust. Again, the minute-to-minute gameplay was always fast and enjoyable, but anyone focused on actually winning games (and at least willing to try the role-based teamwork) quickly grew frustrated.
Blizzard’s answer was to continually tweak both the characters and the game’s very structure. In addition to the usual small adjustments for the sake of balance and flow, characters would receive effective redesigns from the ground up to try and address overwhelming advantages. Notable examples include axing Mercy’s full-team revival power, tweaking turret specialists Torbjorn and Bastion to force them into more mobile roles, toning down overpowered abilities from Hanzo and Roadhog, and completely redesigning Symmetra’s specialized power set not once, but twice.
On top of the constant character tweaks that players had to adjust to, Blizzard would radically change the game’s setup on more than one occasion. While initially players could load up multiple copies of each character on both teams, the game switched to selections that blocked out a character after another player had chosen them. This spelled the end of fun if tactically unsound compositions, like a team full of giant hammer-swinging Reinhardt knights and one zippy little Lucio to boost their speed and heal them up.
But a bigger change was re-arranging the division of characters from offense/defense/tank/support to just three divisions, damage/tank/healer. Because there was a roughly even split before, and because some characters were pretty borderline anyway, this suddenly meant that there were more than double the number of damage characters as either tank or healer…despite an ostensibly “even” split in the importance of those three roles. Initially the only real difference was fodder for team comp squabbles (“can we PLEASE get some healers?” asks the guy who refuses to switch off Genji), technical discussions about the meta, and lots and lots of forum battles. But as newer characters were introduced and the roster of damage choices continued to outpace tanks and supports, Blizzard created Role Queue. This would turn out to be the least popular and most problematic choice in the game’s brief history.
Forcing teams to have only one “copy” of each hero restricted player choices somewhat, but the large roster made up for it. But role queue forced players to choose damage, tank, or healer right from the start of their play session, with no way to switch out of that choice without ending (or just quitting) the current match. Predictably, ever-longer digital lines formed up behind the “damage” queue, which contained the most fun and popular characters even before two categories were smooshed into one gigantic one. With a big, frustrating barrier between players and the main content of the game, Overwatch suddenly became an exercise in patience.
While all of this was going on, Blizzard seemed more concerned with a part of the game that, well, wasn’t actually a part of the game. The Overwatch League was meant to be a bold new direction in esports, adapting city-based teams and fandoms into a system that had previously been more akin to following individual golfers or boxers climb up the ranks. Initially met with a lot of optimism among Overwatch fans, if not esports as a whole, Blizzard sank billions into establishing the league and getting investors for the dozens of city-based teams.
But as it turns out, you can’t make a game that appeals equally to the kind of .01 percent of gamers who can compete internationally, and the kind of gamers who can enjoy playing a fast-paced shooter on the Nintendo Switch. Blizzard’s gameplay tweaks and balance adjustments quickly seemed to pivot towards making OWL matches closer and more exciting, instead of trying to keep the various playable heroes on even footing for the casual and competitive modes of Overwatch itself. (You know, the thing millions of players were actively engaging in the product, instead of watching it on a Twitch stream.)
Between long wait times to play in role queue, tweaks that seemed to be made for the benefit of everyone except the game’s player base, and content updates that became more and more anemic, Overwatch gradually lost grip of the public’s attention and never got it back. The announcement of Overwatch 2, and the subsequent and indefinite wait for it to actually release, essentially spelled the end of the original game.
Broken PvE promises
Which isn’t to say that it was the death of Overwatch as a brand. Blizzard did a poor job of explaining exactly what Overwatch 2 is, aside from the fact that it isn’t a sequel in the conventional sense. But one of the most exciting features was to be an expanded focus on player-versus-environment modes, indulging players like me who wanted more story and weren’t necessarily invested in the constant competition of the opposing shooter modes.
After a few years of short and repetitive PvE missions, which as I previously said were wholly uninterested in actually progressing the story or the characters beyond the big button press, I was stoked. The initial Blizzcon 2019 presentation seemed to indicate that we’d be getting a series of grander and much more interesting single-player missions, focusing on dynamic team compositions, set-piece battles, and upgrading and expanding individual powers as they progressed, MOBA-style.
This would be a huge improvement on the first game, which offered a grand total of four missions in which you could team up to tell an actual story. (One of which, Junkenstein’s Revenge, was an entertaining but non-canon dress-up session.) The first cinematic for Overwatch 2 even drove this point home: the team is finally assembled and ready for action, ostensibly getting off the giant pause button the story had been suck on since 2016.
And yet, when Blizzard announced it was finally ready for beta testers, what it would be testing was…the standard multiplayer mode. Sure, there are tweaks: another character power reboot for Orisa, newcomer Sojourn (another offense hero, natch), and teams are now limited to five players on a side instead of six. But that highly-touted PvE content, as it turns out, will have to wait until 2023.
Let that sink in for a moment. This game, which started with what looked like an interesting setup to tell stories in a brand new Blizzard world, has to wait seven years after its initial launch date to get any kind of forward progression for those stories. And that’s assuming that Blizzard actually fulfills its promise and doesn’t give us a series of insubstantial mini-missions, as was the case with the original game.
I played through the beta, and made a few observations with friends about how it had shifted slightly. Quicker gameplay, less focus on shields with only one tank per side, an easier time breaking through choke points. But it felt like a refinement of the original game, not a true sequel or even a re-launch. Any enthusiasm I had for engaging in this universe in which I had invested so much time was, once again, put on pause.
…and everything else
The final death knell for my interest in Overwatch 2 came when it was announced that it would switch to a free-to-play setup with a battle pass system, in which players would need to either pay or grind to unlock new characters. (Those who hadn’t bought the first game, which would disappear once Overwatch 2 launched, would even have to grind to unlock some of the original cast.) With every game from Fortnite to Rocket League to Clash of Clans trying to sell me a battle pass, and then trying to get me to grind it out multiple times every year, I’d had enough.
But battle passes have quickly become an even more greedy alternative, particularly where Activision Blizzard is concerned. True, they don’t require spinning a roulette wheel to unlock their ingrained prizes. But they’ve now become a way of splitting the player base into the haves and have-nots, in which those who pay up have specific advantages in gameplay. That’s not always the case — Fortnite remains refreshingly dedicated to cosmetic-only upgrades, for example. But it’s certainly true in Overwatch, where half of the strategy is supposed to be switching your character on the fly to counter the choices of the other team and complement your own. And Activision Blizzard had recently pulled the same distasteful move in Hearthstone, where players of the popular Battlegrounds mode now have to pay real money to get the best chance of pulling the hero they actually want to use.
After years of grinding for lootboxes and somehow still missing out on some of the best skins in the game, Overwatch players are no strangers to dealing with Activision Blizzard’s greed. The manipulative battle pass system was the straw that broke the hover-payload for me. I had been growing increasingly frustrated with the company due to its behind-the-scenes problems.
During all of that, key Blizzard leadership including Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan have left the company. Without turning this article into a laundry list of complaints against Activision Blizzard, it seems to be a deeply troubled company that doesn’t treat its employees with even basic dignity. Its responses to these controversies have been the usual corporate dross, and have done almost nothing to indicate that it’s interested in actual change.
So with all of that running through my mind, I felt weirdly relieved trying to get into a game of Overwatch 2 on launch day, and being met with a queue of 40,000 people that never seemed to get any shorter. The situation stayed the same for three days, and each time the game stubbornly refused to load, I almost felt happy to go do something else.
Blizzard said it was a DDOS attack. I say it was a blessing, an excuse to close the launcher and find another game to fill my time. It’s possible to actually get into matches now, despite an ongoing host of issues — perhaps not surprising from a company that seems to be actively battling its own QA department. But my experience with Overwatch 2 is still limited to about an hour of the beta.
Overwatch isn’t the same game it was in 2016. That’s no indictment: a multiplayer game actively courting an audience of millions should change, especially if it sells itself on remaining new and interesting. But for every improvement the Overwatch developers have made, it seems like they’ve also taken a step back, especially in terms of avaricious monetization. And Blizzard certainly isn’t the same developer it was in 2016…or at least, it isn’t the developer we thought it was, unburdened by a host of illuminating peeks behind the curtain.
Maybe I’ll re-engage with this once-wonderful property when it launches some story content next year, and becomes more than “Overwatch 1.5.” Maybe some time apart will be good for both of us. Or maybe I’ll skim the gaming news headlines and see if Activision Blizzard has decided to treat its employees better, perhaps under the stern gaze of its new owner and the guiding hand of absolutely anyone except Bobby Kotick.
Or maybe I’ll forget all about it between now and then. Maybe most of Overwatch’s original fans will, too. I shouldn’t be tempted to return to a place that I know is bad for me, just because I can remember when it wasn’t. Maybe I’ll let this overly long article serve as the final breakup for a game I used to genuinely love. At this point I’m reminded of perhaps the most famous breakup line in history: Frankly, Overwatch, I don’t give a damn.
When it comes to finding the right monitor deal, there’s a lot to consider. From screen size and resolution to refresh rate and connectivity options, it’s easy to get lost. That’s where the team at PCWorld comes in. Whether you’re on the hunt for a monitor for the home office or a 4K workstation for photo editing, there’s a wide array of options for you to choose from. The monitor deals highlighted below hit a number of different price points as well as screen sizes and resolutions.
Gaming monitor deals
There’s nothing more annoying than playing a competitive game on a monitor that lags. When every second matters, you need something that can keep up with the flow. That’s where gaming monitors come in. Their high refresh rates are designed to make your game look as smooth as possible.
Lenovo G27-20, 27-inch 1080p display/144Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/AMD FreeSync, $229.99 (17% off at Lenovo)
Lenovo Legion Y25g-30, 24-inch 1080p display/360Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/Nvidia G-Sync, $499.99 (28% off at Lenovo)
Lenovo G34w-10, 34-inch 1440p curved display/144Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/AMD FreeSync, $349.99 (30% off at Lenovo)
Samsung Odyssey G5, 27-inch 1440p display/165Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/FreeSync Premium (AMD Adaptive Sync), $269.99 (27% off at Best Buy)
Gigabyte M27Q-Pro, 27-inch 1440p display/170Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/FreeSync Premium (AMD Adaptive Sync), $299.99 (25% off at Newegg)
The Lenovo Legion Y25g-30’s 360Hz refresh rate is just plain ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible. This monitor will surely provide the ultimate gaming experience.
Are you a content creator? If so, you should consider picking up a 4K monitor. These monitors are perfect for video editing thanks to their high resolution displays. They’re also a good pick for movie buffs. There’s nothing quite like watching your favorite flick on a 4K display, where the details are ultra-sharp.
ThinkVision P32p-20, 31.5-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/16:9 aspect ratio/4ms response time, $499 (51% off at Lenovo)
Dell 32, 31.5-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/16:9 aspect ratio/5ms response time, $759.99 (20% off at Dell)
Dell S2722QC, 27-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/4ms response time, $279.99 (35% off at Best Buy)
Online retailers like Best Buy and Walmart have good discounts, that’s for sure. However, we’d recommend widening your net and buying directly from the manufacturers. Lenovo, for example, is currently having a Cyber Week sale. You can pick up a monitor or laptop for up to 78% off, which is nothing to sneeze at. Dell’s offering a similar sale in which you can save up to 60% and get free shipping.
What should I look for in a good gaming monitor?
When it comes to gaming monitors, refresh rate is important. The refresh rate is how fast a monitor can pull up an image on screen. The faster the fresh rate, the smoother your game will look. For competitive first-person shooters, where every second counts, we’d recommend 144Hz as the minimum rate. Anything higher is good enough for the eSports realm.
Resolution is another important feature to consider. Much like the refresh rate, the higher the number, the better. The resolution has a direct impact on image and video quality. 1080p is the best resolution for 24 inch monitors. For 27 inch monitors, 1440p is ideal.
Response time is a big one, too. Response time is how long it takes for a pixel to change color. A monitor with a 1ms (millisecond) response time, for example, is going to be faster than a monitor with a 5ms response time. This directly impacts how a monitor handles motion.
What about the size? Well, it depends on the distance from the screen. 24 inches is a good option if you’re about three feet from the screen, as it’s small enough to see everything without having to move your head around. 27 inches is better if you’re further than three feet away from the screen.
What should I look for in a good workstation monitor?
4K monitors produce ultra-sharp sharp images and video, so bigger is better in this case. In order to see all those tiny details, we’d suggest springing for a 31 inch monitor (at the very least). You need room for all those delicious pixels. That’s why 4K monitors are perfect for photo or video editors. Watching movies on these monitors is a delightful experience as well.
What size monitor should I buy?
In terms of monitor size, 27-inches is the most common. That’s a good size for a home office. For gaming monitors, 24 or 27 inches is best. You don’t want to be swinging your head around too much in the middle of a fast-paced match. Plus, a larger screen may cause eye strain if you’re sitting too close so it’s better to go smaller. For 4K monitors, go with a 31 inch. 4K resolution brings next-level visuals, so you definitely want to go bigger.
Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in tech and pop culture. She has written for high traffic websites such as Polygon, Kotaku, StarWars.com, and Nerdist. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.
Stunning primary display and easy to see secondary display
Excellent I/O options and wireless connectivity
CPU / GPU power meets the needs of content creators
The battery life is lacking for a productivity laptop
The trackpad is small and awkwardly placed
Rear orientated ports can be hard to reach
With stunning and ergonomic dual displays and a capable CPU/GPU combination, the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is an ideal companion for content creators that like to work unencumbered.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED
Asus’ dual screen Zenbook Duo laptops are like pandora’s boxes for content creators, offering a whole new productivity experience for those brave enough to give their unique two-display configurations a try. We’ve seen some good ones since they debuted at CES back in 2019, but none that quite offer the balance of power and ergonomics available in this newly minted 14-inch Zenbook Duo model.
It wins the day because of its powerful new 12th-generation processor, a more visible ScreenPad Plus, and a taller, brighter 120Hz OLED primary display that offers superlative visuals from every angle. To cap it off, a spate of thoughtful software upgrades optimizes the ScreenPad Plus operation, making workflow more seamless than before.
Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED specifications:
The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is available in configurations up to Intel Core i9-12900H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. Our review unit has the following specifications:
CPU: Intel Core i7-12700H
RAM: 16GB DDR5 / 4800 MHz
GPU: Intel Iris Xe graphics and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Displays: Primary: 14.5-inch, 2.8K (2880 x 1800) touch-sensitive OLED, 120 Hz refresh rate, 100% DCI-P3 color gamut; Secondary: 12.7-inch (2880 x 864) touch-sensitive, IPS-level, 120Hz panel, 100% DCI-p3 color gamut
Networking: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2
Dimensions: 12.74 x 8.85 x 0.70 inches
Weight: 3.86 lbs (1.75kg)
Color: Tech Black
Battery capacity: 76Wh
Design and build
The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo, like last year’s 14-inch Zenbook Duo features not one but two displays – a 14.5 primary display and a 12.7-inch secondary (ScreenPad Plus) display that’s planted neatly above the keyboard. Measuring 12.74 x 8.85 x 0.70 inches, its proportions are reasonably compact and thin. That said, its 0.70-inch-thick chassis and 3.86 pound weight doesn’t quite qualify it as an Ultrabook.
There are some year-on-year design upgrades which make the 2022 Zenbook Pro 14 Duo better than its predecessor. The most obvious is that the secondary display now tilts up at 12 degrees from the laptop’s base instead of just 7 degrees before. Ergonomically, that makes it a lot easier to see, as you won’t have to crane your neck in an unnatural way to get work done.
Such a tall tilt is achieved by replacing the 2021 Zenbook Duo’s Ergolift hinges with new AAS Ultra hinge mechanisms – a process that required a rejig of some of the internal components. Going to all that trouble has provided a thermal payoff too. Asus say, the internal hardware gets a 38 percent increased airflow – hence the moniker, AAS, which stands for: Active Aerodynamic System.
Newly placed air vents also work to cool the laptop. Gone are the vents that force hot air upwards onto the primary display. They’re replaced by a neat row that blow hot air out the left-hand side. Asus has camouflaged these to look like USB-A ports, so unless hands are placed in front of them, they will go unnoticed.
There are upgrades to primary display too. It benefits from a larger 92 percent screen-to-body ratio and a taller 16:10 aspect ratio, which replaces the 16:9 aspect ratio we saw last year. It’s also notably brighter and by all accounts looks superb from any angle you view it from.
For the style conscious, this year’s 14-inch Zenbook Duo makes an ideal work accessory. It appears sleek and sophisticated no matter what kind of lighting you’re sitting under, and its Tech Black magnesium-aluminum alloy finish blends it seamlessly into just about any kind of work environment.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Additionally, flipping the lid down reveals a simple but compelling Asus ‘A’ logo that reflects just about every color back at you under bright lights, so expect your Zenbook Duo to get plenty of envious looks in boardroom meetings.
Keyboard and trackpad
Although once again quite slim, the Zenbook Duo’s keyboard feels balanced and comfortable. It does a decent job of making use of all the available space in the chassis. The keys also feel large, and they have a generous 18.5 mm pitch between them.
They have convenient dish-shaped depressions to prevent your fingertips slipping off. The dish-shaped depressions plus the 1.4 mm vertical travel allowed me to achieve a high level of accuracy while writing my reviews.
The standout keys are in the very top row. These include the Fn keys and some extra productivity shortcuts. Useful examples include a key to turn the ScreenPad Plus on and off, one to take instant screenshots and another to switch the webcam on or off.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
I found the ErgoSense trackpad wasn’t as user friendly as the keyboard. It felt a little cramped, being just a small rectangle to work on. Its right hand-side positioning also makes it awkward for lefties.
On the other hand, its surface felt comfortable, thanks to a smooth hydrophobic PVD coating. The trackpad also supports multitouch gesturing in Windows, which was useful for accessing my desktop through the piles of windows that I always have open.
As well as being taller and brighter (I measured 547-nits brightness by my Lux meter) than before, the primary 14.5-inch OLED HDR touchscreen produces vibrant, richly saturated color images, and deep blacks that seemingly sink into the display. That’s thanks to the panel’s 100 percent DCI-P3 color gamut and VESA DisplayHDR True Black rating that enables a 1 million to 1 contrast ratio.
I was particularly impressed by the color accuracy in photos I clicked on. Incidentally, Asus say the OLED panel is Pantone validated, which is a big win for designers and graphic artists that need that deep level color accuracy.
As a new addition this year, you can also customize the color gamut for different tasks via the Splendid page in the MyASUS software app. The various color modes include, an sRGB mode for creating web content and browsing, a DCI-P3 mode for cinema content and a Display P3 mode for movie grade color. However, switching between them didn’t show up that much difference.
More obvious was how glaringly smooth the 120Hz OLED panel appeared while playing videos. Micro stuttering was absent. Frames were also incredibly sharp when compared to a number of new release gaming laptops in the office. Consequently, if you’re wondering whether this laptop’s primary display is superior to a 165 Hz IPS-level panel with a comparative resolution, the answer is a resounding yes.
The addition of the AAS hinges has allowed the power input, HDMI and MicroSD card reader to be moved to the back side this year – a placement that does require you to uncomfortably lean over the laptop at times. The I/O options are top-notch, however. In addition to the above, you also get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB-A 3.2 Gen2 port and a 3.5 mm audio port.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Power users that want to speed up productivity will undoubtedly put the Thunderbolt 4 ports to good use. Each port allows you to transfer files at up to 40Gb/s, or to provide output to up to two 4K displays or a single 8K display.
The Zenbook Duo also sports Bluetooth 5.2, and dual band Wi-Fi 6E. The latter is made even better by a few sweetener technologies – Wi-Fi Stabilizer acts to prevent electromagnetic signal interference, while a technology called SmartConnect works to provide the best possible Wi-Fi signal in your environment.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Although difficult to qualitatively measure, just anecdotally my wi-fi signal seemed a little more reliable than my work laptop, so kudos to Asus for adding these extra wi-fi improvements.
Webcam and audio
The Zenbook Duo packs a HD Webcam with Windows Hello compatibility. Testing it out revealed reasonably crisp images, but occasionally the AI did tend to overcook faces, which appeared a little plastic. On the plus side, pictures look exceptionally bright in low light conditions, which saves you the hassle of always having to turn on overhead lights.
The laptop’s dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support do a decent job of keeping the audio sounding clear and crisp and noticeably louder than some laptops of a similar size. I was also impressed by how little distortion they produced at the laptop’s higher volume levels.
Considering my review unit’s Intel Core-i7-12700H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU configuration, I pulled comparisons from the PCWorld stable of productivity laptops as well our list of gaming rigs. One notebook in particular, the MSI Katana GF76, featured the same GPU/CPU combination as my review unit.
I began by running the PCMark 10 Overall benchmark, which is good indicator of a laptop’s suitability for the modern office environment; as it runs this benchmark simulates a range of tasks like word processing and video chats and then calculates an overall score based on the outcomes. Here, two AMD Ryzen powered productivity laptops had a slight edge on the Zenbook Duo that was otherwise a strong performer in this test.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Next, I examined the competency of the laptop’s CPU with Maxon’s Cinebench R20 Single-Threaded benchmark that targets just a single Core of our laptop’s CPU. In this benchmark the Zenbook Duo excelled, hitting a high score of 692. This proves it has ample power for everyday tasks like running apps and programs.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Still in Maxon’s Cinebench R20 app, I ran the Multi-Threaded benchmark, which flexes all cores of a laptop’s processor. Again, the Zenbook Duo topped our list of comparisons, fielding a score of 5,585. CPU-intensive tasks like video editing and encoding require a laptop to utilize multiple CPU cores, therefore this result shows the Zenbook Duo is well suited to these tasks.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
In the free HandBrake utility, I set the Zenbook Duo to encode a 30GB MKV file to MP4 using the Android Tablet preset. This test measured its ability to perform a CPU-intensive task before it became too hot and had to throttle performance. In the results, note how the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED finishes quicker than the MSI Katana GF76.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
What do all these results mean? Looking them over, it’s clear that the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED provides adequate processing power for content creators working in programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Photoshop. Its upper end score in PCMark 10 Overall also means it will be quick and snappy in productivity apps like Microsoft Excel and Word.
The HandBrake result, however, is particularly encouraging. This suggests the Zenbook Duo’s innovate AAS facilitated aerodynamic design could in fact provide thermal advantages over some larger laptops with comparable Intel or Ryzen processors, like the MSI Katana GF76, in CPU-intensive tasks. That makes it a rarity among 14-inch productivity laptops.
Since their launch, Asus’s Zenbook Duo laptops have occupied a middle ground for graphics performance, carving out a niche above most productivity laptops, but slightly below high-end gaming laptops. That feels about where the latest model sits too, based on the results of my benchmarking.
Regardless, the results that play out below show that the Zenbook Duo is equipped with enough grunt to perform capably in applications that involve 3D rendering, and although not a gaming laptop, it can even produce decent frame rates in moderately demanding 3D games.
To gauge the general graphics performance of my Zenbook’s RTX 3050 Ti GPU I used the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark. As you can see in the graph below, the Zenbook Duo placed second only to the MSI Katana GF76, outperforming most comparisons, including some with RTX 3050 Ti discrete graphics cards.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
For the Rise of the Tomb Raider game benchmark comparison chart, I chose to pit the Zenbook Duo against gaming laptops. It proved only slightly off the pace of that comparison list.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
While the Zenbook Duo’s hardware and graphics performance more closely resembles a gaming laptop than a productivity laptop, so too does its battery life, which proved to be somewhat lacking.
To test the battery life, I ran the laptop down from 100 percent charge to standby by playing a 4K Hollywood movie on repeat. In this test, I commonly find productivity laptops with 76Wh batteries can last between nine to 13 hours, but the Zenbook Duo only lasted seven hours, which means you can only expect it to last approximately four hours for battery-taxing tasks like 3D rendering or gaming.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Consequently, you’ll want to be around an outlet after your morning coffee break if you want to keep it powered up for a full working day.
Should you buy it?
The Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is a well-tuned instrument for content creators, excelling at a range of general office tasks as well as tasks that require a little more grunt like encoding and 3D rendering. The big attraction is the laptop’s dual displays. They’re the best ones we’ve used in an Asus Zenbook Duo laptop to date with a spate of year-on-year improvements that make the visuals more striking and the cross-screen integration easier than ever before.
Five years after CEO Elon Musk officially unveiled his Semi, Tesla’s electrified tractor trailer, the company delivered its first official production vehicle to Pepsi on Thursday during its “Semi Delivery Event” held at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. The beverage maker has ordered 100 of the vehicles in total.
First shown off in 2017, the Tesla Semi originally was set to retail for $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300- and 500-mile versions, respectively. Those prices are significantly higher than the $60k a standard diesel cab runs but Tesla estimates that its vehicles can operate 20 percent more efficiently (2kWh per mile, Musk revealed Thursday), and save up to $250,000 over the million-mile life of the Semi.
Each rig is “designed like a bullet,” Musk said at the vehicle’s unveiling, and would come equipped with a massive 1MW battery pack. This reportedly offers a 20-second 0-60, which is impressive given that these vehicles are towing up to 80,000 pounds at a time, and a spent-to-80 percent charge time of just 30 minutes. The Semis are also outfitted with Enhanced Autopilot capabilities, as well as jackknife-mitigation systems, blind-spot sensors and data-logging for fleet management.
As reservations opened in 2017, Musk said at the time, deliveries would begin two short years later, in 2019. By April 2020, Tesla had officially pushed that delivery date back to 2021, citing production delays and supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just two months after that, in May of 2020, Musk sent a company-wide email reading, “It’s time to go all out and bring the Tesla Semi to volume production. It’s been in limited production so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design,” as seen by CNBC. In the same email he confirmed that production would take place in Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory.
Cut to July, 2021, and the new delivery date has been pushed again, this time to 2022, citing both the ongoing global processor shortage and its own pandemic-limited battery production capability for the new 4680 style cells as contributing factors.
“We believe we remain on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021,” Musk said during the company’s Q2, 2021 investor call. “The pace of the respective production ramps will be influenced by the successful introduction of many new product and manufacturing technologies, ongoing supply-chain-related challenges and regional permitting.”
“To better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022,” he continued. Beginning in May of this year, Tesla started actively taking reservations again for a $20,000 deposit. “And first deliveries are now,” Musk said on Thursday before welcoming Kirk Tanner, CEO PepsiCo Beverages North America, and Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods North America, on stage for high fives and handshakes.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.
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