ASUS’s Zenbook Series has long been their answer to the premium laptop segment where the company put their best foot forward in terms of design and even performance. This year’s Zenbook Pro refresh does just that.
The Zenbook Pro is equipped with top of the line processors from the Intel Core i5 to the hexacore (6-core) Core i9. It will be available in two variants: the Zenbook Pro 15 and the Zenbook Pro 14. The most of difference between the two is their size.
ScreenPad: The Touch Bar on Steroids
The hallmark feature of the ASUS Zenbook Pro series is the new ScreenPad. ASUS has done away with the conventional touchpad in favour for what they are calling the “ScreenPad”. The ScreenPad is a hybrid touchpad and screen which brings a whole new level of multitasking and productivity to the Zenbook Pro series.
The new ScreenPad is a 5.5-inch Super IPS+ display with FullHD 1080p resolution. It retains its size for both size variants of the Zenbook Pro. It has a wide viewing angle of 178° and is glass covered to prevent fingerprints and smudging.
The ScreenPad is able to act as a second screen; allowing users to extend their desktop or multitask with videos, notes or other material appearing on the ScreenPad. However, the utility of the ScreenPad doesn’t end there. The screen pad comes with its own launcher with a slew of applications that allow better, quicker control of programs. These programs can be linked to Windows-dependent programs such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Chrome or they can be independent apps which users can download from the Windows Store.
The ScreenPad is also a way for the user to express their individuality. Users are able to set the background of the ScreenPad according to their whims and fancies similar to how they would customise the wallpaper of their desktop.
At launch, the ZenBook Pro’s ScreenPad will be able to take advantage of 13 apps. This includes the ScreenPad Toolbar, Launcher, Office, Numkey, Calendar, Calculator and handwriting. ASUS expects more apps to join the ecosystem after launch. The company has made the Software Development Kit (SDK) available for developers to create more apps for the ScreenPad.
According to ASUS, the ScreenPad does consume a little more battery power. This comes as no surprise as it is a capacitive touchscreen. That said, the company recommends turning it off if longer battery life is required.
With the main feature of the Zenbook Pro out of the way, let take a closer look at the new laptops. ASUS touts that the Zenbook Pro series is made for tech enthusiasts, graphics designers, professionals and creatives; what that simply means is that the Zenbook Pro needs to pack quite the punch when it comes to specifications.
ASUS Zenbook Pro 15
The bigger and more powerful of the two Zenbook Pros announced today is the Zenbook Pro 15. The larger 15-inch big brother of the Zenbook Pro series will come with top of the line Intel Core i processors ranging from the i5 to the recently announced Core i9 hexacore (6-core) processor. The processor is paired with up to 16GB of RAM and a combination of either 1TB or 512GB SSD and 512GB or 256GB SATA3 SSD. This combination alone guarantees quick, smooth performance. ASUS is also including a discrete graphics processor with either the NVIDIA GeForce 1050 or 1050Ti Max-Q.
On the display front, the Zenbook Pro 15 comes with a 15.6-inch backlit 4K UHD LED screen with a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. If 4K UHD resolution is too much, you’ll be able to opt for the lower resolution FullHD 1080p version. The mainstay of the displays for ASUS is the colour accuracy of the laptop which has a Delta value of less than 2 and covers 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut. The 4K display is touch capable while the FullHD one comes with an option without touch input.
On the connectivity front, the Zenbook Pro 15 comes with a network card capable of dual-band 802.11ac connectivity. It also has support for Bluetooth 5.0. The laptop also comes with two USB Type-C ports with support for the newer USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard, 2 USB Type-A with 3.1 Gen 2 support, one HDMI, one combo audio port and a microSD card slot.
The audio system on the Zenbook Pro 15 is the ASUS SonicMaster Stereo audio system with surround sound and smart amplifier. It’s harman/kardon certified. The laptop also has a VGA webcam and a fingerprint sensor with Windows Hello support.
The Zenbook Pro 15 runs on a 71Wh, 8-cell lithium polymer battery. ASUS claims that the notebook will have up to 9.5 hours of battery life. Of course, using the SCreen pad will result in shorter battery life.
Zenbook Pro 14
The Zenbook Pro 14 inherits most of its big brother’s DNA. The main difference between the two is a smaller 14-inch LED-backlit display with FullHD resolution. It also has thinner bezels coming in at only 5.2mm compared to the 7.3mm of the 15.
On the processor end, the 14 comes with either an i5 or an i7 processor with either 8GB, 12GB or 16GB of 2400Mhz DDR4 RAM. It also uses Intel Optane memory with up to 1TB of storage.
The Zenbook Pro 14 also comes with a smaller number of ports with only one USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2, one USB Type-A 3.1 Gen 2, one USB 2.0, one HDMI and one combo audio jack. It also lacks the fingerprint sensor of the 15 but compensates with an infrared webcam with Windows Hello support.
The 14 also has a smaller 70Wh, 4-cell lithium polymer battery.
Pricing & Availability
The Zenbook Pro series will be available worldwide in August 2018.
The Zenbook Pro 15 will retail from USD$1,299 (RM5,159.18) to USD$2,299 (RM9130.84). The smaller 14, on the other hand, will be retailing from USD$949 (RM3,769) to USD$1,499 (RM5,953.35).
Also published on Medium.