Weathering the crypto winter: Top five takeaways from Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao

binance ceo Changpeng Zhao

At a Point Zero Forum held yesterday (June 22), Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao spoke about the current cryptocurrency landscape and speculated on recovery from the market crash.

As it stands, the sentiments around crypto have been waning among mainstream investors. Blue-chip coins — such as Bitcoin and Ethereum — are down over 70 per cent from their all-time highs, and it’d seem the bear market is here to stay.

This also brings to question the fate of other blockchain-related developments such as NFTs and the metaverse. Just as traditional brands — in industries ranging from fashion to F&B — were beginning to adapt these trends, the market crash has spurred doubt about their long-term potential.

To clear up some of the uncertainty, here are our top five takeaways from Zhao’s keynote at the forum:

1. The worst of the market crash is behind us

Although projects are still suffering from the effects of the market crash, Zhao believes that the worst of the impact has been shouldered. Based on how the market has progressed since the LUNA/UST crash, he reckons that the ‘contagion’ won’t continue to spread.

Image Credit: Point Zero Forum

“At it’s peak, [LUNA’s market cap] was up to US$40 billion,” says Zhao. “Other firms that are failing now are in the single-digit billions. We’re seeing tertiary effects of the market crash, but each time, the cascade is smaller.”

Zhao adds that the current bear market isn’t the same as the ones witnessed in 2018 and 2020.

“There’s a lot more leverage in the system,” he justifies. “There are a lot of DeFi projects, lending funds to other firms in a circular fashion. In this situation, when one firm has a liquidity problem and crashes, the other firms slowly feel the pain. It doesn’t all happen in one day.”

The recovery of the crypto market is likely to take on a different form too. “I hope that the worst part is over — we’ve seen a pretty sharp drop. It’ll take a long time for the industry to recover though.”

Zhao predicts that it could be years before crypto prices recover to their previous all-time-highs.

2. Regulations will help, but won’t solve all the problems

Crypto’s ease of access has often proved to be a double-edged sword. During bull markets, it’s praised for facilitating financial inclusion.

However, when projects fail — especially ones as big as LUNA — it’s looked at as a glaring flaw. Regulators come into the spotlight for failing to protect retail investors from such volatile investments.

“I don’t think it’s that crypto hasn’t been regulated enough,” Zhao says. “We shouldn’t blame the regulators.”

He adds that companies and startups fail, even in regulated markets. “In an innovative new industry, there will be failures. We do want to seek more regulatory clarity, but it won’t solve the problem.”

Zhao shifts the attention to education instead. “We need more of that. It’s probably the best way to protect users in the long run.”

After all, it could take years or decades for regulations to shape out. “It’s an iterative process. Most regulations are focused on centralised exchanges, but now there’s also NFTs, DeFi, and the metaverse.”

What is the metaverse? We don’t really know yet. How do you expect regulators to make regulations about something that’s not even formed? They’re not going to design the ecosystem.

– Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO

3. Only the strong will survive the bear market

For all the disarray it has caused, the bear market comes with a silver lining. Now that money isn’t flowing into every hype-driven project being launched, only the ones with real value will remain standing.

“Before, there was so much noise,” says Zhao. “Anyone who could write a Solidity contract wanted to do their own project. Now, those projects have either failed or are no longer that active. The industry is still moving forward, while the stronger players get a chance to shine.”

https://twitter.com/ChainDebrief/status/1536742514941566976

The crypto ecosystem is being cleaned out, and projects will need to rely on actual business models to survive.

“If you’re only getting users because you’re using financial incentives, that’s not a real model,” Zhao says. “Eventually you’ll run out of money, and you’ll crash.”

Launching a crypto coin, by itself, doesn’t constitute a business model. “You actually need use-cases where people spend that coin, either for transaction fees on the network, paying for services, or buying NFTs, for example.”

“It comes down to very fundamental business models and building products that people want to use.”

4. High returns aren’t sustainable

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. DeFi projects are known to offer absurd interest rates through liquidity pools and yield farms. These rates don’t last forever, and investors need to be well-versed when trying to capitalise on them.

“High APYs, high returns — I don’t think they’re sustainable in the long run,” Zhao says. “New projects can give out these incentives to attract users, but only for a short time.”

Speaking about a project listed on Binance which offers an annual return of 36 per cent, Zhao says, “Binance manages risk quite carefully. I’d assume [this return] is very short-term and with a limited scope. It would not work if all 20 million of our users [decided to invest].”

This is not to say that crypto returns are entirely illegitimate. “Longer term, DeFi projects can offer eight to 10 percent. They have a real business model, where they earn money from the trading fees which people pay.”

5. Crypto is here to stay, and governments should embrace it

The industry’s not going away. The technology’s not going away,” Zhao asserts. He believes there are more use-cases now than ever before, and the space is growing despite what the trading charts say.

I think NFTs have a lot of potential. DeFi’s going strong, fundraising through ICOs is going strong. These use-cases don’t exist in traditional finance.

– Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO

For governments around the world, embracing crypto comes with a lot of benefits. “This new technology is going to give you better ways to raise money, invest, transact. It’ll introduce new business models and micropayments, and facilitate cross-border businesses.

“When these tools are available to your entrepreneurs and established businesses, your economy will become stronger. Governments don’t become strong by exerting control, they become strong by having a strong economy.”

https://twitter.com/cz_binance/status/1539655213325459459

Zhao speaks about a counter-intuitive stance — how most countries in the world want foreign direct investment (FDI) yet not all are encouraging of initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“When you have entrepreneurs raising money from people all over the world, that’s FDI. Once regulators understand that, many will want it”

Government aside, Zhao believes that banks and other traditional financial institutions need to get their foot in the door as well. If not, he likens their fate to Kodak going bankrupt because it refused to shift from film to digital cameras.

“If they don’t come here early, the crypto world will just [keep developing]. And in 10 or 20 years, there will be a big disruption.”

Featured Image Credit: Point Zero Forum

Also Read: DPM Heng on the future of crypto and fintech in S’pore: public-private cooperation is needed

Blurring the lines between work & play in a luxury event space, Colony’s The Rooms in KL

While Colony might be best known for its coworking spaces, it has also established itself as a provider of photogenic and luxurious event spaces. Just recently, our team was able to visit Castra by Colony, a rooftop glamping spot in the heart of KL. 

Located in the same Star Boulevard KLCC building are The Rooms by Colony, another one of the brand’s event spaces. 

The Rooms consist of The Tea Room and The Drawing Room. As described by Colony’s website, the space features two rooms—namely, The Tea Room and The Drawing Room—with flipped stories. 

The entrance to The Drawing Room is in the form of a secret passage, referencing the speakeasy theme found within.

The Tea Room, on the other hand, is a modern retelling of a British colonial tea room. The former room has more of a masculine style, whereas the latter has a feminine aura. 

Launched last year, the idea for The Rooms came about when Colony received enquiries for a place to hold team meetings or brainstorming sessions in a casual setting, more laidback than a formal boardroom.

“They wanted to work but also wanted their team to relax and have fun at the same time,” explained Trina Phua, Colony’s performance marketing specialist. “So that was how the first Room, The Drawing Room, was conceptualised.”

Drawn into the Drawing Room

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

Found through a discreet entrance, The Drawing Room stands as a mixing chamber meant to foster curiosity and discussions among entrepreneurs, creatives, and really just about any individual from all walks of life. 

To be a space where you can get work done as well as kick back and relax, The Drawing Room was designed to have the dual purpose of work and play. 

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

“For instance, the long table functions for dining or for sit-down meetings, while the TV and sofa seating can be used for presentations or karaoke sessions,” Trina shared. “We even included the bar area for drinks to chill out after a hard day’s work.”

Did you know: A drawing room is a room in a house where visitors may be entertained, and a historical term for what would now, in the US, be called a living room.

To achieve a grand aesthetic, the team incorporated antique-looking pieces and vintage prints and textures. The use of leather also adds to the posh, bar-like feel of the space.

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

“The masculine temperament of the brand portrayed in The Drawing Room entices guests to dance the night away behind our hidden doorway to seek freedom in the idea of the unknown,” Trina described. 

With 2,000 square feet of space, The Drawing Room seats about 40 people at a time for a reception equipped with high-definition television and complimentary high-speed WiFi. The pricing for The Drawing Room starts from RM 4,500 for half a day.

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

A time and place for tea 

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

As mentioned earlier, the team designed The Tea Room to be antithetical to The Drawing Room as a feminine counterpart to it.

“We had a lot of fun putting in all the pastel colours and the delicate prints on the floors and walls,” Trina said. “Where The Drawing Room exudes the masculine, heavy vibes, The Tea Room is all about lightness.”

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

This is reflected not just in the colour palette but also in the actual lighting of the space and even the furniture. The rattan chairs and velvet couches further emphasise the aesthetic. 

According to Trina, Colony’s ballroom is popular for weddings, so The Tea Room can often act as a bridal suite. With its high-tea concept, it also serves as a space for guests to gather around and wait for the lovely bride to appear. 

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

Other than bridal projects, guests can arrange sophisticated birthdays, elegant baby showers, bachelorette parties, or bring to life fancy tea parties depicted by fairytales.

Starting at RM2,500 for half a day, The Tea Room is around 1,000 square feet that can fit up to 25 pax.

Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

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As more events are taking place, The Rooms make for great multipurpose spaces to host said events. 

On top of the Instagram-worthy interior design, there are plenty of other amenities available from a projector and audiovisual systems to karaoke sets and portable stages. You can also cater food to the venue or engage with Colony’s partner vendors with additional charges. 

While they haven’t had many extravagant requests for The Rooms yet, the team aims to always be able to cater to guests’ needs. For example, a team member once played an actor in a surprise proposal video shoot.

“Given Colony’s first-class hospitality, it is our motto that no request is ever too great and this very much applies to all our office and event spaces,” Trina said. 

  • Learn more about Colony here.
  • Learn more about The Rooms here
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also Read: As the first OPPO phone to collab with Hasselblad, is the Find X5 Pro worth the hype?

Featured Image Credit: The Rooms by Colony

From China to S’pore: This duo built a luxury pet brand that has earned over S$166M in revenue

vetreska founders pets

Pets have always been companions to some. These adorable little creatures have won the hearts of many, and are even considered part of the family. It is no wonder some pet parents seek to provide the best for their pets, providing them lots of cool pet furniture, premium pet food and more. 

However, sourcing for pet products is no easy feat for paw parents. Lots of consideration on product quality has to be considered so that the safety and comfort of their fur friends are not compromised. As such, the range of products that best suit their needs can end up being quite limited, leading to a higher willingness among pet owners to splurge on luxurious pet products that are functional and durable. 

Understanding the concerns of such pet owners, Singaporean Donald Kng was interested in creating a “People Pet Brand”, which led to the establishment of Vetreska in 2017.

“We deliver finely made pet products that are not only beneficial and fun for pets, but also extremely relatable and joy[-]bringing for pet owners,” he says.

Making the shift from fashion to pet products

Donald Kng, co-founder of Vetreska
Donald Kng, co-founder of Vetreska / Image Credit: Vetreska

Co-founders of Vetreska, Donald and Nico Li, first met in college as freshmen at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where they pursued Fashion Merchandising Management and Advertising and Marketing Communications respectively. 

When they conducted their research in 2016, Donald shared that their initial focus — the “clean beauty” and “gender-neutral fashion” industries — did not appear as frequently as compared to pets, especially cats. 

The Chinese pet industry was growing at 30 per cent per annum, which was practically unheard of back then. Coupled with the fact that major foreign direct investment was going into China investing in the consumption market as well as consumption-focused gross domestic product growth policies in China, [it] made it an easy choice to start our company there, not to mention the sheer size of the Chinese population.

– Donald Kng, co-founder of Vetreska

The growth potential of the industry greatly piqued their interests, and got them thinking on how they can incorporate their training in fashion and retail to cater to the pet industry. They got creative, and started creating unique pet products.

vetreska
Vetreska/ Image Credit: Vetreska

“Our target audience are folks who are bored of mundane pet products and hope to add a little of life, exuberance and class to their pet-owning living environment and life. People looking to make that transition into a whole new world of fun experiences with their pets would look to see what Vetreska is offering first,” he adds.

Award-winning pet products

When pet parents source for pet products, there are concerns over whether the product is suitable for their pet, whether it’s of good quality, whether it’s safe to use and more.

Donald shares that he understands these concerns with regards to pet products, and decided to ensure that they are taken into consideration when creating Vetreska’s luxurious pet products. 

He added that he factors in functionality, relatability to customers, quality, design and trends as some of the key criteria when developing a pet product. However, he is also aware that since the pet market is highly saturated, these alone would not be enough to ‘win’.

Hence, instead of just focusing on practicality, Vetreska’s pet products also aim to stand out through product design by offering unique and imaginative pieces. 

They needed a competitive edge, so they worked on developing products that new-gen customers can relate to, as well as a solid distribution network and a clear brand value and positioning that resonates with their target audience.

Aiming to push the boundaries of imagination on pet products to present pet lovers with fun yet practical designs, Vetreska has taken product design to a whole new level. 

“Our designs often push the boundaries on what pet products can actually be,” he notes.

As seen from their products such as the Cactus Cat Scratcher, Watermelon Cat Litter Box, Bubble Pet Carrier and Cherry Cat Scratcher, Vetreska’s pet products are really one-of-a-kind.

vetreska pet products
Vetreska’s pet products / Image Credit: Vetreska

With their pet products being both inventive and practical, they have clinched the CBN 2021 Gen-Z Favourite Brands China, 36Kr Top 100 High Growth Potential Brand, Alibaba Tmall 2021 Annual Top 100, KPMG Top 50 New Chinese Brands, Equal Ocean Top 6 New Pet Brands and more.

Over the years, Vetreska has also secured collaborations with several brands, including Intercontinental, Sanrio Hello Kitty and Fiu Gallery. 

The brand remains determined to continue serving its purpose of redefining pet lifestyle by drawing inspirations from everyday lives, and incorporating them into pet products.

They broke even in less than six months

Both co-founders have invested a total of CNY$1.5 million (about S$300,000) to kickstart Vetreska, and they managed to break even in less than half a year.

Donald also noted that they’ve been “rather fortunate” on the fundraising front, as many venture capitalists have actively approached them to invest in the company.

Since its inception, Vetreska has witnessed tremendous growth. Last year, it earned over US$120 million (S$166.63 million) in revenue, and it has since set up multiple stores in Shanghai and sells to a total of 40,000 pet stores globally.

To offer paw parents an immersive experience with their fur babies, they have also set up the Vetreska Playground in areas of Shanghai, where products can be tested in person.

Vetreska Playground
Vetreska Playground / Image Credit: Vetreska

However, their success could not have been achieved without overcoming the obstacles that faced them in their early years.

I would say [the] supply chain has been the most challenging aspect over the years, simply because we had no prior knowledge and experience in pet supplies production. We overcame them the same way as many other problems in life — learning from mistakes as we went along, making new connections [and] developing new skill sets as a company.

– Donald Kng, co-founder of Vetreska

In more recent times in 2020 and 2021 at the height of Covid-19, many businesses were negatively impacted.

Despite the virus outbreak, Vetreska has doubled its annual growth domestically as China managed to contain the spread of Covid-19 after the first few months. Vetreska also ventured overseas and entered the US market at the end of 2020.

These achievements led Donald and Nico to be listed on the coveted Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list in 2020.

According to Donald, the business only really experienced the impact from the pandemic with the recent lockdowns in Shanghai. Regardless, thanks to the continuous support from their consumers and strong bond as a team, Vetreska has emerged from the tough times even stronger.

Homecoming: Vetreska expands to Singapore

Having built a successful business in China, Donald reveals that Vetreska has recently set up their regional hub here in Singapore to take it to greater heights. In fact, they are already starting hiring rounds here in the coming month.

“[I]t’s definitely both sentimental and logical for me to set up a regional headquarter here,” he says

Although the sheer size of China is very different from Singapore, Donald is confident that there are many similarities among the people. For one, he notes that Singapore’s demographic is becoming younger and more affluent, which aligns with Vetreska’s target customer profile.

Moreover, since Singapore is a global financial hub and an effectively multilingual country, he strongly believes that setting up a regional headquarter here would help juggle Vestreska’s businesses in different parts of the globe. 

Particularly, these refer to their supply chain in China, direct-to-consumer opportunities in the States and e-commerce in Southeast Asia.

“In the immediate future, we hope to see greater growth and brand building in our foray into the North American market, mirror[ing] our supply chain capabilities into Southeast Asia,” he says.

Vetreskaland
Vetreskaland / Image Credit: Vetreska

With the progression of Web 3.0, which focuses on decentralisation and user ownership, many businesses have started exploring it, and Vetreska is no exception.

According to Donald, they are currently in the midst of creating “Vetreskaland”, a metaverse in which they gamify the whole pet-owning experience for the next generation of pet-loving people.

Featured Image Credit: Vetreska

Also Read: This S’porean invested six figures to start her own pet carrier brand, broke even in 5 months

Why these serial entrepreneurs chose to move to M’sia 3 yrs ago to tackle our e-waste

In 2016, Mohamed Tarek El-Fatary, also known as Mo, represented his startup at TEDxAmsterdam Innovation Competition. The startup, by the name of Masar Smart Energy, was focused on deploying solar energy to African villages. 

The same day, he went on to win the top award in the competition. He recalled being asked: 

“Can you guarantee that these villages who are going to use your system are going to have a proper e-waste recycling system at the end of the system’s life?”

When Mo answered no, he got the response: “Then, you are solving a 25-year problem by creating a 250-year problem when your system becomes e-waste and contaminates the land and water that these villagers need to survive on.”

With that, he realised the urgency of the e-waste problem. Mo internalised this issue until he married Nahed Bedir Eletribi, a social entrepreneur with her own set of impressive accolades such as being the recipient of various innovation awards. 

Nahed and Mo illustrating ERTH’s collection boxes / Image Credit: ERTH

As the couple began to brainstorm solutions for the problem of e-waste, the news of e-waste originally destined for China making its way into Malaysia broke sometime in 2018.

So, the founders did what they had to do: they got on a plane and flew to Malaysia to help solve the problem.

Reaching Malaysian soil 

During Mo and Nahed’s visit, they found themselves in Low Yat Plaza, a shopping centre in KL specialising in electronics. 

There, they spotted a phone dealer pushing a glass cabinet full of dusty Nokia mobile phone parts. Naturally, the couple asked him where he was taking the parts. 

The dealer told them that he was cleaning his shop’s storage and was about to dump the devices. Upon hearing that, Mo asked him to hold onto the batch for another day. Meanwhile, he started looking for a recycling facility that deals with mobile phones. 

Image Credit: ERTH

According to Mo, he ended up purchasing the entire batch of phone parts for US$1,000. He took a Grab to the recycling facility he found in Klang, and actually ended up making US$2,000. 

“That’s when we understood that waste generators exist, and recycling facilities exist, but there is a missing link between them,” Mo and Nahed said. “We realised that if we create this missing link, we can unlock tremendous environmental, social, and economic value.”

With this, the couple decided to move to Malaysia and established ERTH, an authorised e-waste collection centre. 

Making Mother Earth proud

Launched in early 2019, ERTH stands for Electronic Recycling Through Heroes. But obviously, it resembles the word “earth” as well. 

The co-founders established ERTH by acquiring a pre-existing Malaysian technology company by the name of Blue Bee Technologies. They then pivoted the company to be a digital platform accelerating electronic recycling for households and businesses. 

Any household or business can book a free pickup for their unwanted electronic wastes through ERTH’s website or its WhatsApp hotline (014-2211446). 

The minimum requirement for pickups is simply one working device or three non-working devices from its list, which can be found on its website. 

Upon receiving the pickup request, a driver (who the team calls a Hero) will contact the customer and arrange the pickup accordingly. The Hero then pays a cash reward according to ERTH’s standard pricing.

The pickup service is currently only in the Klang Valley, though ERTH’s B2B service is available across peninsular Malaysia. 

Image Credit: ERTH

After the electronics reach ERTH’s warehouse, the team categorises them from grade A to C. Grade A refers to reusable, Grade B for repairable, and Grade C for recyclable. 

As a collection centre, ERTH doesn’t deal with the actual recycling of the parts. Instead, it hands over the devices to downstream channels, respective to the grade of the electronics.

“We believe that Malaysia can double its electronic recycling rate by 2030, from the current 27% to 52%,” the co-founders shared. “This would make Malaysia the top e-waste recycling nation of Southeast Asia.”

According to Mo and Nahed, the infrastructure is ready to support such a surge. The only missing component is customer awareness and willpower. 

Garnering recognition

Although e-waste could use more awareness, ERTH believes Malaysians are more knowledgeable about the topic nowadays. As an example, a Maxis video featuring ERTH has over 1.4 million views on YouTube.

The collection centre has also garnered recognition from the Malaysian government. According to ERTH’s website, the Department of Environment recognised it as a top authorised collection centre in 2021. 

The recognition has helped ERTH secure large multinational customers such as DHL, Volvo, Shell, DKSH, HongLeong, Maxis, and other names. 

ERTH is headquartered in Cyberjaya / Image Credit: ERTH

On top of this, ERTH has also received a Penjana SIM-Matching Grant as an accredited social enterprise. The team used the grant to boost the household cash rewards in early 2021. 

The organisation also received a grant from MiGHT (Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology) that it used for researching technology systems needed to raise Malaysia’s recycling rate. 

“Today, we already have the system up-and-running in partnership with Maxis, and [it] has improved our Hero network efficiency by 50%,” the co-founders shared. 

While the government’s recognition helped boost ERTH’s reputation, it goes beyond governmental initiatives to solve the e-waste problem. After all, many governments around the world are unable to deal with the e-waste problem by themselves. 

The couple said that this is because by the time e-waste reaches the municipal waste collection point, it has already been contaminated or destroyed. Thus, the value becomes low or negative. 

Image Credit: ERTH

Therefore, the solution is to intercept the devices from the consumers’ hands before they reach the waste stream. This is exactly what ERTH is doing. 

With that said, the governments have an important role to play in raising awareness about the problem and supporting players like ERTH with solid policies that help solve the problem more effectively.

Looking toward the future 

ERTH is currently in talks with several investors about expanding its services throughout Malaysia. 

As Malaysia only represents 2% of the global e-waste market, the team also hopes to help other countries through a franchise model. Such a model will allow entrepreneurs elsewhere to establish independently-run ERTH operations while using existing systems.

“In the long term, within a few decades, we would like to accelerate the e-waste recycling rate such that the majority of e-waste in the world is properly recycled and no electronic devices end up exported/dumped to other countries or in landfills anywhere in the world,” the couple said. 

While electronics have improved our lives, we must consider the impact it leaves on our environment and society. 

The next time you find some unwanted electronics, try giving ERTH a call, and let the Heroes take it from there.

  • Learn more about ERTH here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also Read: With 350+ cryptocurrencies available on Poloniex, here are 3 features it brings to the scene

Featured Image Credit: ERTH

Unleashing my multitasking abilities with ASUS’s new dual-monitor, touchscreen laptop

For one whole week, I’ve been using the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED as my main laptop at work. At first, I wasn’t sold on the secondary touchscreen sitting above the keyboard, as it seemed unnecessary for a non-artist. 

Seven days later, I definitely see its appeal. But before we get into that, let’s explore the specs for a bit. 

The main monitor is a 2.8K OLED HDR touchscreen with a 16:10 aspect ratio, 120 Hz refresh rate, and 550 nits (unit of measurement for brightness). 

Like the main monitor, the 12.7-inch ScreenPad has a 2.8K resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate.

The laptop comes with an audio jack, one USB port, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader. It is equipped with an Intel Core i7-12700H processor and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card with NVIDIA Studio drivers. 

Don’t be fooled by the image on the left, those are just vents, not USB ports

One main difference between this new Zenbook model compared to its predecessor, the Zenbook Duo, is the elevated nature of the ScreenPad. The secondary screen is now raised by 12 degrees, providing comparatively better ergonomics for the user. 

Other than the hardware, the software has received an upgrade too. The ScreenXpert 3 icon hovers around the sides of the ScreenPad. Upon clicking it, you can easily adjust the secondary screen’s brightness or access the App Navigator, amongst other features and settings. 

Although I’ve never tried the Zenbook Duo or the Zenbook Pro Duo (different from the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED, which is what I’m using right now), I know these features are rather sizable upgrades from the older models. But are the upgrades enough to make this dual-screened laptop worthwhile? 

A matter of getting used to 

Like most changes, switching over to the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED took me a while to acclimatise. The off-centred keyboard was easier to get the hang of, but the touchpad off to the side was what threw me for a loop. It felt unnatural, so I ended up using a mouse for the majority of the week. 

This laptop is around 1.7kg, which is lighter than I’m used to (to be fair, I have a pretty clunky laptop)

In a pinch, though, the touchscreen doubles as a touchpad. I activated the touchpad mode with a three-finger tap so I can access the feature conveniently. Perhaps this might be useful for lefties too who aren’t comfortable with using the pad on the right side of the laptop. 

To be fair, though, I do think the touchpad works well as an instrument for scrolling, but I’m not a big fan of it otherwise. 

The front-mounted keyboard was also challenging, as I typically rest my wrists on my laptop. With the keyboard pushed all the way into the front of the laptop, I have to either keep my wrists mid-air or rest them on the table, which can result in cramps.

On the bright side, I finally made use of the wrist rest gifted by my managing director (thanks, Sarah!). If you expect to use the Zenbook Pro Duo for long hours per day, I would definitely recommend looking into a wrist rest yourself. 

Personally, a mouse is necessary for this laptop

The keyboard being below the touchscreen also means that you can’t rest your wrists when using the screen. However, you can easily turn off the touchpad (with the help of F6) and rest your hand there instead.

Multitaskers’ saviour, or demise?

When I first dragged my messaging app down to the second screen, I realised the usefulness of it. With this setup, I can constantly keep an eye on my messages without making the rest of my screens smaller. I could also keep my emails open too. 

I have five windows open in this image

However, despite the elevated nature of the ScreenPad, you still have to lower your head to view it, which can cause strain in the neck after a while. I wish that the height of it was somehow adjustable, but it’s still better than having it not elevated at all. 

I found myself bent over quite a few times over the week before I realised I should probably sit back and switch the bottom screen to the upper one. Thankfully, you can swap screens easily with a button on top of the touchpad. It can sometimes be a little glitchy or take a few seconds, but it’s not a big deal. 

As a writer, I often have two windows open–one for my resources and references, one for my actual writing. With the addition of the second screen, this method of mine became easier than ever to utilise. 

For instance, I have the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED page open on the ScreenPad right now whilst I’m typing this on the main screen. 

I can also imagine video editors making good use of the ScreenPad by keeping their timeline or media library open below. The use cases for the second screen are extensive, that’s for sure. 

I usually have my messaging app open on the secondary screen

The laptop also provides multiple snap options. Not only does it let you conveniently make your windows full-screen on the first or second screen, it also gives you the option of making it snap to the left, right, or centre of the screen. 

With this feature, the Zenbook Pro Duo can either be a multitasker’s heaven or end up causing a nightmarish amount of tabs and windows to be open at once. 

Smooth-like-butter drawing pad 

The Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED comes with the ASUS Pen 2.0, which offers four interchangeable pen tips–2H, H, HB, and B. The 4,096-level pressure sensitivity allows users to easily control the width of the brush strokes. 

I made a painting using the Paint 3D app

The screen and pen are comparable with other drawing pads I’ve used in the past, but I do really like the matte finish on the screen which makes each stroke glide smoothly. It feels like using a gel pen on a smooth 80gsm paper, if that makes sense. 

The size of the screen and its placement probably isn’t ideal for long hours of drawing and illustration, but I’d imagine that it’ll suit hobbyists or artists on the go.

Although the ASUS Pen 2.0 does its job rather well, I wish there was a garage on the laptop itself to store the pen.

Not a gaming laptop, but it does its best

Over the weekend, I used the laptop for a gaming session by playing our office-favourite game, Genshin Impact. 

Genshin runs perfectly fine on this laptop

After a few peaceful minutes, I noticed the laptop was getting worryingly hot. Then, I realised the laptop had been on Whisper Mode. As I switched over to Performance Mode, it immediately started blasting out hot air from the sides, back, and underneath the laptop. 

I checked the computer’s heat, and it was well over 80 degrees Celsius, which is acceptable for a non-gaming laptop. (For comparison, the idle heat is around 50 degrees.)

This is the work of the ASUS IceCool Plus, a cooling system that uses two IceBlades fans. By the way, the angled nature of the ScreenPad helps keep it cool too. 

Other than the Performance Mode being rather loud, the game ran smoothly, and the temperature dropped to around 70 to 75 degrees Celsius. I eventually also turned off the ScreenPad so I could focus better on the game. 

One of my colleagues tried streaming whilst playing Valorant with the laptop. He was running Discord, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), and the game itself whilst using the laptop’s camera and microphone. 

The Zenbook Pro 14 Duo was able to tank it out at first, producing 20 to 30 frames per second (FPS). However, minutes into the game, the FPS took a major hit, resulting in only 8 to 10 frames per second, which is detrimental for a first-person shooter game. 

Still, if it had worked well, the concept is pretty interesting—using the ScreenPad to read the chat while playing on the main monitor. Yet another use case for the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED. 

-//- 

This laptop to me is a compact and portable alternative to a dual-monitor setup.

Artists and creatives will find great value in the ScreenPad that doubles as a drawing pad. It’s also great for maximalists like me who like to work with multiple windows open. 

At first, I was worried that I would neglect the ScreenPad after a bit of testing. However, it’s been a week and I still use it regularly. So if that’s your concern, I’m here to dispel it. 

The ScreenPad lifts up when you open the laptop

One thing I do neglect to use is the pen. Perhaps it’s because I’m not an artist, but I’m also an “out of sight, out of mind” person. Since there’s no garage for the pen, I don’t have the pen lying around for fear of losing it. 

According to ASUS’ website, the pricing for the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is RM8,999. There aren’t many other comparable laptops available in Malaysia, so it’s hard to tell whether this is on the pricier side or not. 

But if you’re in the market for a laptop upgrade and do have the budget for the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED, I’d recommend you give it a try in-store to get a real feel for it.

If this review has convinced you, then just make sure you’re ready to commit to a front-mounted keyboard and curious glances from passersby. 

Pros Cons
ScreenPad resolution is up to par with the main touchscreen Keyboard at the front means no area for you to rest your wrists
Elevated ScreenPad makes the second screen more comfortable than the older Zenbook Duo models Touchpad is small and uncomfortable—an external mouse is a must-have personally
Can handle multiple chunky programmes at the same time  No garage for the pen 

  • Learn more about the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED here.
  • Read other VP Verdicts we’ve written here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page

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