Asus ZenBook Professional UX580 and UX480 First Impressions
Not content material with one shock launch at its Computex 2018 ROG occasion, Asus has whipped out a second show-stopper at its essential press convention at the moment. This can be a firm that has taken nice pleasure in stunning individuals with merchandise which can be imaginative and infrequently defy categorisation, and no effort has been spared this 12 months. We now have the brand new ZenBook Professional UX580 and 480 with their attention-grabbing ScreenPad trackpads, along with yesterday’s unveiling of the ROG Phone.
At first look, the brand new ZenBook Professional fashions would possibly appear to be completely extraordinary upgrades to final 12 months’s fashions. They’re slim, have the newest from Intel, and have just a few good touches reminiscent of slim display borders and high-speed Thunderbolt three ports. Nonetheless, there’s an enormous new characteristic that nobody else has carried out earlier than, and it is certain to shock and delight many individuals. Whether or not anybody truly wants such a characteristic is one other matter solely.
The ScreenPad is a 5.5-inch full-HD IPS touchscreen rather than the standard trackpad. It really works as a trackpad for Home windows 10, and if it is set to Traditonal Trackpad mode, you would not know the distinction in any respect. That each one modifications while you hit F6 on the keyboard, which helps you to cycle between all out there choices. You need to use it as a secondary monitor in Extension Show mode (sic), and Home windows treats it identical to any exterior show, besides that it is positioned beneath the principle one as an alternative of to both aspect. Alternatively, you’ll be able to run mini apps on it in ScreenPad mode, very very like the desktop devices that have been as soon as well-liked with Home windows.
You possibly can set the ScreenPad to behave as a typical trackpad however nonetheless show a photograph of your alternative – simply right-click on a picture file in Home windows Explorer and choose Set as ScreenPad Background. Asus is selling varied app integrations and browser extensions – for instance, you’ll be able to already management YouTube video playback or manipulate objects in some Microsoft Workplace packages. An SDK will quickly be launched, so anybody can develop apps for the ScreenPad, and so they’ll be distributed by means of the Home windows Retailer or Asus’ personal Giftbox retailer that is preloaded on all its laptops.
We have been capable of spend a while with the brand new ZenBook Professional fashions in Taipei previous to its official unveiling, and whereas we’re impressed with the idea general, we encountered some curious behaviour. A few of this may very well be attributed to immature software program, however we’re additionally left with greater questions in regards to the general usability of such a tool.
The largest problem is that whereas this can be a touchscreen, you can not straight manipulate Home windows packages that you simply drag onto it, as a result of it is nonetheless working as a trackpad for each shows. It’s important to basically use it like a trackpad and slide a finger round to place a cursor over display components, moderately than tapping them straight, and the cursor may need to be dragged down from the principle display. It is counterintuitive now that we’re all used to smartphones. It may be disconcerting when one program is on the ScreenPad however you are tapping and swiping over it to manage the cursor on the principle laptop computer display.
Secondly, there’s the best way that Home windows handles a number of displays. If you’d like a video taking part in on the ScreenPad, you must drag its window down, after which make it play fullscreen. You will additionally must take care of very tiny Home windows UI components, and the hole between the 2 screens, which implies that window controls may very well be hidden. Dragging vertically in a single swipe can be a problem, as a result of the trackpad is huge, not tall. We as soon as noticed Home windows scaling on the principle display go haywire when switching out of Extension Show mode. It will maybe have been easier for individuals if video may very well be forged to the ScreenPad moderately than implementing it as a second monitor.
When working ScreenPad apps, you’ll be able to manipulate them straight, like on a smartphone. Which means trackpad performance is disabled, and you must keep in mind that. If that you must multitask, you may must faucet round to stop the app with a purpose to liberate the trackpad. We tried taking part in some music utilizing a ScreenPad app and located that it stored on taking part in with no approach to management it when the app was closed. After we switched to a distinct mode, it took means too lengthy to change again with a purpose to simply pause the music.
Clearly, as dazzling because the ScreenPad would possibly take a look at first, there are teething troubles on the conceptual degree. Asus cleverly says that it’s “elevating the bar”, however whereas Apple’s Contact Bar has comparatively much less performance, it is far more tightly targeted and there is means much less potential for frustration and confusion.
All that apart, there are issues to deal with on the and design fronts. The ZenBook Professional UX580 and UX480 aren’t simply two totally different dimension choices; they’ve utterly totally different designs. Each can be found in the identical Deep Dive Blue color with Rose Gold trim, and identical to final 12 months, we would love to have a impartial color possibility. The 14-inch UX480 has en “ergolift hinge” which inclines the decrease half barely when opened, whereas the 15-inch UX580 is an easy clamshell. The bigger mannequin will get as much as a six-core Intel Core i9 CPU, and a super-accurate Pantone-validated 4K display, whereas the smaller one tops out with a Core i7 and full-HD display.
The larger mannequin additionally has two Thunderbolt three ports to allow you to join as much as three exterior displays (plus the ScreenPad makes for 5 in whole!) whilst you solely get 10Gbps USB three.1 Sort-C with the smaller one. Nonetheless, in an attention-grabbing twist, the UX480 has an infrared digital camera for Home windows Whats up authentication, however the extra premium UX580 solely has a fingerprint sensor.
Efficiency-wise, the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti on the UX580 and GTX 1050 Max-Q on the UX480 is perhaps barely disappointing, however these are ultra-slim fashions and weigh just one.8kg and 1.6kg respectively. Frequent options embrace as much as 16GB of RAM, as much as 1TB of PCIe SSD storage, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 5.zero.
Asus is aware of that it’ll seize headlines and eyeballs with the ScreenPad, however we worry that real-world use will show to be a bit sophisticated. A secondary Customers will particularly wrestle with when to make use of it like a touchscreen versus a trackpad. Rather a lot may also rely upon software program makers, and huge assist is just not assured, contemplating that this is not an trade normal. We’ll have far more element once we get to make use of and reside with the brand new ZenBook Professional fashions over an extended time frame. If and when Asus launches them in India, we’ll have a full, detailed evaluate.
Disclosure: Asus sponsored Devices 360 correspondent’s flights and lodge for the launch occasion in Taipei.