Hybrid working has highlighted the need for a capable machine, no matter what you call an office these days. Certain features have become a priority, such as good quality webcams and microphones, being lightweight and portable, good battery life, and having a SIM card slot.
The Asus ExpertBook B7 Flip ticks most of those boxes and then some. It is a two-in-one business laptop with a 360° screen that flips out, providing flexibility on how you want to work. Once opened fully, you can use it in tablet mode, with the option to switch to a dedicated tablet mode with larger icons. It felt a bit heavy with prolonged use in this mode. It also supports the Asus Pen stylus, available separately.
Our B7 Flip review unit came in a navy shade that feels business-like. It is a powerful machine packed into a 1.44kg compact exterior, which is what makes it attractive. You can pop it into a bag without the bulk. For its slim design, it manages to pack in every single port you would need in a business environment.
It has 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, 2x USB-A ports, a mini Display Port, HDMI, micro HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, smart card reader, a Kensington nano security slot, and a 5G-supported SIM slot. Security includes a fingerprint sensor and a camera that supports facial recognition.
It is powered by Intel’s 11th-generation Core i7 processor, packs in 64GB of RAM with 1TB of storage, and runs on Windows 10 Pro.
The B7 Flip has a 14-inch display, which doesn’t feel too large. It has a 16:10 ratio, an anti-glare panel and a rather nifty “private view” mode. When you turn this on, the person next to you won’t be able to peek onto your screen. If you tend to work with sensitive data while on an aeroplane or at a coffee shop, this will come in handy.
It has a 720p HD webcam that is great for those people who need to attend video meetings or present virtually. Even if you don’t pair earphones to it, the built-in mic and speakers are decent.
The backlit chiclet spill-resistant keyboard is comfortable to type on for a compact design. The large trackpad features a superimposed number pad, should you ever need a dedicated one. When you’re in tablet mode in portrait orientation, the keyboard is locked so you don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting any keys.
Opting not to switch to tablet mode when you flip with screen back is a frustrating experience, because you need to navigate with your finger — in the absence of a stylus — which could result in tapping the wrong thing, because the display is optimised for keyboard and or mouse usage. I tried it and it didn’t last very long.
The B7 Flip cannot be faulted on the hardware front; it has everything you’d expect from a business laptop, including built-in cooling, which optimises overall performance, and some native features that set it apart from its competitors. It even has a user-status indicator light that you can turn on if you’re busy so colleagues will know at a glance via a red LED light on the front cover next to the ExpertBook logo.
The MyAsus application lets you easily go into settings and tweak stuff to your liking, instead of doing it natively on Windows, which can feel tricky to navigate. You can monitor power, performance, audio, visual, connectivity, input device settings and so on. The laptop can be adapted to your usage patterns, depending on how intensive they are.
It also has something called ExpertWidget that is an excellent productivity tool. This lets you create your own shortcuts using the function and number 1 to 4 keys. These can be customised for opening specific websites or files, apps, toggling WiFi or a (5G) data connection, Bluetooth, or task manager.
Once you understand and perfect how these additional features and settings work, it’s a case of making the laptop work around your needs and productivity levels.
Speaking about productivity, the battery life on the B7 Flip is above average, although it could be better for the price you’re paying. It will mostly get you through a workday, depending on how intensive your apps are. If you want to prolong it, you need to remember to do basic things like turn down the screen brightness or not use 5G all day.
The Asus ExpertBook B7 Flip is a premium laptop with nifty features built-in that improve productivity and offers some level of security and flexibility. On the hardware front, it ticks all the right boxes, with the addition of a 5G SIM slot that is ideal for hybrid working; it means one less dongle to carry around and charge.
Premium doesn’t come cheap though: expect to fork out R31 200.