When legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of French fashion house Chanel, was alive, his shows had themes that transported audiences to a different world. For the Fall 2017 collection, Lagerfeld took his audience into space with a 35-meter high rocket launched during the show’s finale at the Grand Palais. Reviewing the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition, I had the same feeling of being sucked into the vision of creating a world that explored the idea of space travel, with Elton John’s “Rocket Man” playing in background. I’ve been using the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition for a few days, and here’s my take on the collectible that’s more than a laptop.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: Design and aesthetics
Everything from its design to its packaging is inspired by the space journey of the Asus P6300 laptop computer for use on the Mir space station in 1997. The ZenBook 14x OLED Space Edition is a true icon of laptop design and, thanks to its exceptional aesthetics and build quality, it has become even more special. It’s a very cool, futuristic and classic laptop at the same time. It’s colored in a finish called “zero-G titanium”, while the lid and palm rests are finished with Mir station and Morse code designs with arc lines that resemble a spaceship. Morse code translates to “Ad Astra Per Aspera”, or through the difficulties of the stars. The laptop feels exceptionally well built. It has an all-aluminum body that feels sturdy with no flex in the screen or keyboard. Asus claims the Space Edition complies with “U.S. Space Systems Command Standard SMC-S-016A test protocols” and can operate in “extreme climates.”
As a journalist and traveler, I want to be able to travel as light as possible. The ZenBook 14X Space Edition is a travel-friendly machine. While it’s not fanless like the MacBook Air M1, it slips easily into my tote bag, and its small power adapter makes it less of a hassle when I really need to be productive on the road. The device is compact and smaller than I thought, weighing only 1.31 kg. I love the feel of the laptop whether I’m sitting at my desk or keeping it on my lap. When the laptop is open, the back of the screen lifts a bit, thanks to a unique hinge design. The company calls it Ergolift and tilts the keyboard at 5.5 degrees, which is supposed to be more comfortable for long periods of typing.
On the right side of the laptop are an HDMI port and two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and on the left are a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A) port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also a 720p webcam, which is very average in nature. It’s grainy and not great. The laptop’s Harman Kardon speakers, on the other hand, are excellent. They get very loud with minimal compression at maximum volume.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a small 3.5-inch OLED screen on the lid, which displays various space-themed animations. It looks fantastic and is also functional. By default, when the lid is open, the screen displays a row of three portal-shaped windows where we see an astronaut walking through it, from left to right, against a backdrop of dreamy stars. But I find the secondary display more useful when the lid is closed, as the laptop’s ZenVision smart display shows the date and time as well as the battery level. I’m told the secondary screen can be used to display custom messages, different themes, and animations. It’s more of a cosmetic thing, but I like the little touches here and there. It’s a reminder of your good taste and appreciation for unique things.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: screen and keyboard
The laptop has a 14-inch OLED touchscreen (2880×1800 resolution) that displays crisp images and text. The screen is both bright and offers excellent contrast levels with much deeper blacks than any other laptop screen I’ve seen. The black Knight looked spectacular, with a beautiful true-to-life image that I miss when viewing on the MacBook Air M1. Its 16:10 aspect ratio offers more vertical space than a standard 16:9 screen, which means less scrolling. If you’re done scrolling through long articles and spreadsheets, you’ll really like the display on the ZenBook 14X Space Edition. The laptop also supports a 90Hz refresh rate, which means the screen is great for watching fast-moving movies or games. It is VESA DisplayHDR 500 certified and Pantone validated and covers 100% of the P3 color gamut.
As a writer, I’m finicky with keyboards. The keyboard on this laptop is solid. I have written and edited so many articles. I expect a great typing experience from this laptop considering the cost of the device. And I’m happy to say that the keyboard doesn’t disappoint. The keys offer good travel and are pleasant to type on. In a sea of boring, similar keyboard layouts, Asus has done something different here. The power button (which doubles as a fingerprint reader) and “space” bar are painted copper (rather), with the icon of a ringed planet. The touchpad, on the other hand, is smooth and responsive, even if it feels a little off at times. The fun thing about the touchpad is NumberPad 2.0. So if you tap a small icon in the top corner of the touchpad, an LED number pad will appear. I’ve used this kind of feature on other laptops from Asus and found it handy.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: performance and battery
Inside, the Space Edition comes with 12th Gen Intel H-series processors with Intel Xe graphics, up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and up to 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen4 SSD. Support for Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 is there. This is a capable laptop, although it’s not designed for gaming. In my tests, the laptop performed very well as a daily driver. I could open dozens of Chrome tabs and apps with little to no lag. I’ve run the system through my daily workloads which include a dozen Chrome tabs with Zoom/Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, Apple Music, WhatsApp Web, and YouTube. The laptop gets a little warm and I only heard the fans when I pressed the ZenBook hard. Notepad is powerful enough for light productivity tasks, like formatting words or checking email. It can even handle demanding tasks, like rendering videos.
The ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition’s battery is a mixed bag. You can get a 6-hour workday on a full charge if you’re only doing light productivity tasks, but it’ll be slightly shorter if you’re watching a lot of videos and editing photos. Battery life varies greatly depending on your usage. But I have to point out that I haven’t seen any drastic change in battery life on a 12th gen laptop compared to the 11th gen one.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: should you buy it or skip it?
At Rs 169,900, the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition is best described in two words: timeless and classic. There’s a joy in owning a device that has nostalgic appeal – and the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition is that. It has a captivating element that attracts enthusiasts and purists alike, similar to a luxury Swiss watch. And its price says it all. More than its specs and features, I think this notebook is for collectors and someone who is really interested in space exploration. It’s a sleek, highly functional design and the space-themed prints should appeal to collectors and creative professionals alike.