When legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, was alive, his shows used to have themes that transported audiences to a different world. For the Fall 2017 collection, Lagerfeld took his audience to space with a 35-meter tall rocket that launched during the show’s finale at the Grand Palais. While reviewing the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition, I had a similar 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 the background. I used the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition for a few days, and here’s what I think about the collector’s item that’s more than a laptop.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: Design and aesthetics
From its design to packaging, everything is inspired by the Asus P6300 laptop’s trip to space 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 aesthetic and build quality, it has become even more special. It’s a very cool looking laptop- futuristic and classic at the same time. It’s coloured in a finish called “zero-G titanium”, while the lid and wrist rests are finished with patterns of the Mir station and Morse code with arc lines which look like a spaceship. The Morse code translates to “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” or through the hardships to the stars. The notebook feels exceptionally well-built. It has a full aluminum body that feels sturdy, with no flex in the screen or the keyboard deck. Asus says the Space Edition complies with the “US Space Systems Command Standard SMC-S-016A testing protocols” and can operate in “extreme climates”.
As a journalist and a traveller, I want to be able to pack as light as possible. The ZenBook 14X Space Edition is a travel-friendly machine. Although not fanless like the MacBook Air M1, it easily fits in my tote bag and its small power adapter makes it less painful to travel when I really need to be productive on the road. The device is compact and smaller than I thought, weighing just 1.31kg. I like the feel of the laptop, whether I am sitting at my desk or keeping it on my lap. When the laptop is open, the back of the screen rises a bit, thanks to a unique hinge-design. The company calls it Ergolift, and it angles the keyboard at 5.5 degrees, which is supposed to be more comfortable during longer periods of typing.
On the laptop’s right side is an HDMI port and two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and on the left is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A) port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s a 720p webcam as well, 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 have noticed it but there’s a tiny 3.5-inch OLED display on the lid, which displays various space-themed animations. It looks fantastic and is functional as well. By default when the lid is open, the screen shows a row of three portal-like windows where an astronaut is seen crossing it, left to right, against the backdrop of dreamy stars. But I find the secondary screen is most useful when the lid is closed, as the laptop’s ZenVision smart screen displays the date and time as well as battery level. I am told the secondary screen can be used to show customised messages, different themes and animations. It’s more of a cosmetic thing- but I like the small touches here and there. It’s a reminder of your good taste and appreciation of unique things.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: Display and keyboard
The notebook has a 14-inch OLED touch screen (2880x 1800 resolution) that displays sharp images and text. The screen is both bright and offers excellent levels of contrast with much deeper blacks than any other laptop display I’ve seen. The Dark Knight looked spectacular, with a beautiful, true-to-life picture that I miss while watching on the MacBook Air M1. Its 16:10 aspect ratio provides more vertical space than a standard 16:9 display, which means less scrolling. If you are done with scrolling through long articles and spreadsheets, you will really like the display on the ZenBook 14X Space Edition. The laptop also supports a 90Hz refresh rate, meaning the display is ideal for viewing fast-moving movies or gaming. It’s certified as VESA DisplayHDR 500 and Pantone validated and covers 100% of the P3 colour gamut.
As a writer, I do get finicky about keyboards. The keyboard on this notebook is solid. I have written and edited so many articles. I expect a great typing experience on this notebook, considering the cost of the device. And I am happy to say the keyboard doesn’t disappoint. The keys offer good travel and feel good to type on. In a sea of boring and similar-looking keyboard layouts, Asus has done something different here. The power button (which doubles as a fingerprint scanner) and the “space” bar are painted copper(ish), with the icon of a ringed planet. The Touchpad, meanwhile, is smooth and responsive, though sometimes it feels a bit off. The fun thing about the touchpad is NumberPad 2.0. So if you type a small icon on the top corner of the touchpad, an LED number pad appears. I have used this type of functionality on Asus’ other laptops and found it convenient.
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 high-performance laptop, although not designed for gaming. In my testing, the laptop worked just fine as my daily driver. I could open dozens of Chrome tabs and apps with little to no slowdown. I ran 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 does get a bit warm and I could hear the fans only when I pushed the ZenBook hard. The notebook is powerful enough for light productivity tasks, like word formatting or checking emails. It can even handle demanding tasks, like rendering videos.
The battery on the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition is a mixed bag. You can get through a 6-hour workday on a full charge if you are only doing light productivity tasks, but it’ll be slightly shorter if you play a lot of videos and edit photos. Battery life varies greatly depending on your usage. But I must point out that I haven’t seen any sweeping change in terms of battery life on a 12th Gen notebook vs 11th gen one.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition review: Should you buy or skip it?
At Rs 169,900, the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition is best described in two words: timeless and classic. There is a joy in owning a device that has a nostalgic appeal – and the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition is the one. 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 intended for collectors and someone who is really interested in space exploration. It is sleek, highly functional design and the space-themed engravings should appeal to collectors and creative pros.