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Hands On: The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition Is A Cool, Cosmic Laptop Quirk

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Among the laptops announced by Asus at CES 2022 today is a true spatial quirk, of sorts: the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition, released to mark 25 years of Asus laptops in space. (More on this step in a moment.) Its design cues are astronomically themed, and it even meets a rigorous US Space Systems Command standard for vibration resistance. Above all, it’s a powerful and attractive laptop with a bright screen that handles color and detail well. You will not find another on the planet.


Space is the place

Asus lent us a first pre-production sample of the Space edition, so we couldn’t test it formally, just handle it, use it and give our impressions. The Silver Gray Space Edition measures 0.6 x 12.2 x 8.7 inches and weighs 2.9 pounds. When the laptop is opened, the back of the display acts as a riser, tilting the rear of the chassis upward about half an inch, in what Asus calls an “ErgoLift hinge design. “.

The keyboard is backlit, but when used in a bright location, the letters on the keys were often difficult to read when I sat a few feet away. In the normal hitting position, this was no problem. In the middle of a sea of ​​gray keys, two keys are red and clearly visible: the power button and the “space” bar, the latter of which is appropriately decorated, in a fun little intergalactic game, with the icon of a planet with rings.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Space Edition features a 14-inch 16:10 OLED touchscreen display with a native 2880 x 1800 resolution for a 16:10 aspect ratio, and a claimed maximum brightness of up to 550 nits. The display has a 90Hz refresh rate and a rated response time of 0.2ms. It also offers an ultra-wide color gamut of 100% DCI-P3, is VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black certified, and is Pantone validated. The images displayed on the screen, both still and moving, were found to be bright and beautiful, with lifelike colors and crisp details.

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Space Edition comes with a 12th Generation Intel Core i9 H-Series “Alder Lake” processor and Intel Iris Xe graphics, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCI Express 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD and Wi-Fi support. -Fi 6E. On the right side of the laptop 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. The Harman Kardon laptop speakers proved to be punchy and produced good sound quality for laptop speakers.


Retro-cool design: Morse code, and more

According to Asus, the Space Edition combines decorative elements of the Russian Mir space station with writing in Morse code, which, it turns out, I can read. On the cover of the Space edition is written, in Morse characters – dots and dashes – the Latin expression AD ASTRA PER ASPERA. This expression, often used by the promoters of the space program, means to the stars, through the trials. Inside, P6300 MIR is written in Morse code to the right of the touchpad and ASUS ZENBOOK to the left of the touchpad. In 1998, two Asus Model 6300 laptops spent around 600 days aboard Mir and reportedly performed perfectly.

Asus ZenBook 14 OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The wallpaper, which has a black hole in the center image, also uses walrus to form the years 1998 and 2022. (Another fun aspect of the wallpaper is that it displays a precise, albeit unidentified, position in latitude. and Longitude: 27 07 29.3 N, 121 28 17.3E. Enter it into a web browser and you will end up at Asus Headquarters in Taipei.)

As an amateur radio operator, I happen to be a fan of Morse code (aka CW, or continuous wave). I was stunned but delighted with its use on the entire Space Edition chassis. I’ll be the first to admit that this 170-year-old technology (international Morse code was introduced in 1851) is not exactly state-of-the-art and its use in telecommunications has largely been abandoned. It is still used primarily for aviation beacons and in radio amateurs, and the US Navy and Coast Guard still use signal lamps to communicate via Morse code. In 2006, the FCC eliminated Morse code requirements for all amateur radio license classes, so while CW remains popular, this might not be so true a generation from now.

Convenient with the cosmic-themed Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

That said, unlike other codes, Morse code dots and dashes (if not their meaning) are easily recognizable by the public, and even people unfamiliar with Morse code can translate its characters using an array. . Code has an indelible place in the history of communications, evidenced by the fact that one of the earliest uses of the SOS distress call came from the death row inmate. RMS Titanic. And NASA has included grooves in the tire treads of its Curiosity Rover that spell out JPL in Morse code to help determine the rover’s exact position and movement.


A Mini-OLED screen

Exclusive to the Space Edition is its ZenVision smart display, a 3.5-inch, 256 by 64 OLED companion screen rated up to 150 nits of brightness, mounted externally on the lid. By default, when the lid is open, this screen represents a row of three portal-shaped windows through which an astronaut repeatedly falls, from left to right, against a starry background through which trails of light – meteors ? Laser rays? Space waste? – sometimes zipped. When you close the lid, the screen briefly alternates between a star and a date and time display before turning black. The screen can also be designed to display customizable messages, themes and animations.

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Convenient with the cosmic-themed Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

If you’re hoping to fly on a commercial space flight, or just need a laptop that can withstand extreme temperatures or bumps, the Space Edition is for you – it complies with SMC-S-016A test protocols. of the US Space Systems Command standard, which means it is able to withstand extreme vibration, four times the standard military-grade durability. Additionally, it is capable of operating in extreme climates, beyond military grade capabilities. The Space Edition can operate in conditions ranging from freezing temperatures of –24 degrees C (-11 degrees F) to a scorching temperature of 61 degrees C (147 degrees F).

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Asus says that due to its dual-fan cooling system, which incorporates two heat pipes, the Space Edition should stay consistently cool. If you’re on one of those overly brief suborbital flights, you’d better leave the laptop at home and look out the window instead.


A small step for OLED laptops

Besides the aforementioned boosting features, the space themed design cues are purely for aesthetic / design purposes, and this laptop will primarily appeal to space enthusiasts. It’s a good laptop that I enjoyed trying out. It has a bright and beautiful display, and some powerful specs, as well as the secondary mini-OLED display and a good sound system.

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Space Edition is expected to go on sale in Q2 2022, with specific pricing and configurations to come. It will be interesting to see how much premium you pay for its cosmic characteristics.

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