TOUCH ME! TOUCH ME! is probably what the Asus' latest ZenBook would scream as it has replaced the ultraportable's touchpad with a 5.5in touchscreen, because why the hell not.
Revealed at Computex 2018, the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 will take the top spot of the hardware firm's laptop line-up, where it hopes to grab attention with a more innovative take on traditional touchpads.
While it works like a traditional touchpad, the smartphone-esque 1920x1080 resolution screen, unimaginatively dubbed ScreenPad, has been designed to serve up multi-function options; it can turn into a numeric keypad or calculator, or switch into an app launcher.
The ScreenPad can also act as a second screen to the main display or be used to view YouTube videos - we're not sure how that would work in practice given most of our laptop uses involves fondling a touchpad rather than gawking at it, but we'll reserve judgement until we get out hands on it.
Asus also cosied up to Microsoft to work on integrating the Office suite with the ScreenPad so that Word, PowerPoint and Excel shortcuts work on it, while it's also said to sport controls for apps like Spotify. And developer kits will also be released by Asus to allow for more third-party apps to tap into the touchscreen's fledgeling potential.
Given Asus is the only major Windows laptop maker doing this, along with the rather lacklustre reception to bolstering the functionality of the Touch Bar touchscreen strip on Apple's MacBook Pros, we aren't holding out breath to see if developers rush to get making extensions and integration for the ScreenPad.
The ZenBook Pro 15 also has some pretty healthy specs to make it an appealing laptop, with eighth-gen Intel Core i9, i7 and i5 processors on offer, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of HHD or 512GB of PCIe SSD storage, and graphics courtesy of Nvidia's Geforce GTX 1050 Ti.
A good range of ports, including USB Type-A and Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 are thrown, in and battery life is rated at 10 hours.
Slated for release mid-July at a starting price of $2,299m around £1,700, the ZenBook Pro 15 will also be followed by a smaller 14in display-equipped sibling with slightly lesser specs and a reduced price tag to match.
Laptops or laptop-like devices with second screens capture the eye, much like Razer's Project Linda, but they often fail to deliver. If Asus makes the ZenBook Pro an impressive laptop as well as having a flashy feature, perhaps it could make touchscreen touchpads something worthwhile. µ
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