We’ve been invited to try out the shiny new releases from Asus for their Q4 release timeline and that’s plenty to gloss over. The Zenbook set that was available included everything from the launch:
The Zenbook S with an ergo-lift hinge that raises the device by over 5 degrees and which is, for me, the true spiritual successor of all the previous Zenbooks.
This model is the most unique among the bunch, a true successor of the old Zenbook designs and this one coming in as the thinnest and lightest with as much power as can be packed into a frame that is quite frankly unbelievable. It was such that we thought we were holding a dummy unit until it was charged with a USB C and turned on.
What some users might find to be a negative with this design is that there really isn’t a lot of connectivity options; apart from all the wireless ones, there are only three USB C ports, two of which are equipped with the Thunderbolt standard. That’s plenty compared to some other releases and with Thunderbolt, the usability is extended towards eGPUs and external monitors.
I found the screen display to be quite nice, though I’d prefer less of the interface scaling zoom that was implemented within the demo unit. Typing required very light taps which means that the key travel is quite short. It’s definitely much shorter than that on the new Zenbooks and is a different typing experience altogether – faster at least for touch typists.
The Zenbook 13 / 14 / 15 all with ergo-lift hinges, the 14 and 15 equipped with a numpad that, as if by magic, appears over the trackpad and all of them sporting an all-new design language that is more robust than sleek but with nano-edge bezels that are even on all sides.
Emphasized during the launch was the delivery of as much I/O as possible while maintaining the thin frame design and that is exactly what we have with the new set of Zenbooks. Only the 15″ model one-ups all the others with the inclusion of a full sized SD card slot.
There is also a rose gold strip at the part where the base meets the screen – housing the speakers for the larger units while mostly aesthetic for the 13-incher. It does a great job making the user feel that the screen is actually not attached to the base of the device like some sort of trick when using the Zenbook.
The Zenbook Pro 14 / 15 both equipped with the revolutionary new ScreenPad.
This pairing is the easiest to identify among the latest releases, screenpad notwithstanding. The 14-inch model also has the rose gold strip but with a more tapering and pointed profile from the side. The 15-inch Zenbook Pro does not have either the strip or the ergo-lift hinge. Instead it has a gold trim that goes all around the perimeter of the frame taking pointers from the older Zenbook Deluxe line.
There’re also slightly better I/O options on the Pro 15 having two Thunderbolt ports, a full sized HDMI port, two SuperSpeed USB 3 ports, a microSD card slot, and a combo jack to round it up… it’s just one more than the Pro 14 so you won’t be missing out a lot.
The ScreenPad though is where it’s at! It has its own toggle switch on F6 which cycles through 4 operational modes: ScreenPad mode, Extension Display mode, Traditional Touchpad mode, and a disabled mode for when you plain don’t want to use it.
There’s an entire array of apps for it within the Windows interface which includes full integration with Microsoft Office programs apart from all its other basic functionalities such as media control – Spotify, Numpad, Calculator, Calendar, ScreenPad Settings, among others.
Admittedly, using this takes a little getting used to especially when it’s on extended display performing two roles at the same time. It is also a full 1080p panel fully matte so colors on it wouldn’t be as vibrant as the ones on the main screen. The configuration is top to bottom but the funny thing is, neither Intel nor the Nvidia display configurators can see it… Windows Settings can though so there’s not a problem there, hitting “identify” would provide you with information which is which.
It is important to note that the ScreenPad continues to work like a trackpad despite the extended display configuration, not like a touch screen monitor because then that would require you to work with really small icons. Using the Zenbook Pro this way definitely benefits with a mouse rather than with the ScreenPad alone.
It works, no two ways around it, whichever mode it is at… if it works over an extended period of time is something to be experienced, but with Asus’ knowledge of touchscreens on their mobile device lineup there’s hardly any doubt that it would pass.
There’s plenty more information with the ROG lineup, another exciting set of devices right there, stay tuned for those next.