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The post-CES time can be slow for tech reviews, but this week we were able to check out upgraded devices from ASUS and Nikon. ASUS recently debuted the second version of the ZenBook Duo, which has a redesigned dual screen and software that takes advantage of its unique design. We also spent time with Nikon’s Z7 II, which is the successor to the Z7. This newer shooter has improved upon some core features like battery life and autofocus, and it has 4K 60p video and 5-axis stabilization.
Devindra Hardawar was pleased to see the upgrades that ASUS made to the second iteration of its ZenBook Duo laptop. The 2021 model has gotten a power boost, a rising, angled second screen and a software overhaul that takes better advantage of both displays. The new notebook has both a 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution main screen and it also boasts a 12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus which sits just above the keyboard. The ScreenPad Plus lifts up slightly as the laptop is opened and Devindra found it most useful for running apps like YouTube or Spotify in the background while he worked on the primary screen.
However, there’s a tradeoff with this feature — the cramped keyboard and trackpad. While Devindra thought the keys had a decent amount of travel and feedback, the keyboard felt uncomfortable to use without a wrist rest and the trackpad felt shoved to the right with little room for multitouch gestures. But with an 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake processor, more powerful integrated graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, a better selection of ports, and a lower $999 starting price, the notebook still snagged a Best of CES award from us.
Similarly, Steve Dent found worthwhile improvements in Nikon’s Z7 II. The successor to the Z7, this camera has better autofocus, 4K 60p video, 5-axis stabilization, a longer battery life and good image quality. Steve also liked the rugged build, saying the Z7 II is “a tank” and that he felt comfortable toting it around wherever he went. At $3,000, it’s also on the lower end of the price scale for a high-res, full-frame, mirrorless camera.
However, the upgraded Z7 II is lacking in a few areas when compared to its rivals. It doesn’t support internal 10-bit video recording, it has low-res EVF, middling shooting speeds and a display that only tilts. Steve felt it couldn’t compete with the Sony A7R IV on resolution, image quality or shooting speeds, nor could it keep up with the Canon EOS R5 in terms of autofocus and video capabilities. But the Z7 II has affordability going for it — it’s significantly cheaper than both of those other models, and it still produced sharp images, pleasing colors and worked well in a variety of photography situations.