The New Asus ZenBook Makes The Touchpad More Useful

Pretty much every notebook computer on the market today ships with a touchpad to move the mouse pointer around the screen. And we’ve seen those pads become larger with new materials used to make them smoother and more comfortable to use. But Asus has gone one step further with their new ASUS Zenbook Pro 15 (UX580), announced at Computex yesterday. They’ve made the touchpad into a second touchscreen display.

Apple brought the idea of a changeable display being integrated into the keyboard with the TouchBar on their latest MacBook Pro devices. To be honest, I’m a little surprised they didn’t announce a new TouchBar-enabled external keyboard this week at WWDC. But Asus have upped the ante with a 5.5-inch touchscreen, called a ScreenPad, that can run its own apps.

For example, you can be running your main app on the 15-inch 4K UHD, Pantone-validated display and have a calculator, music player, or numeric keyboard on the ScreenPad, which the company says is a Windows Precision Touchpad placed over a 5.5-inch IPS display. You can toggle the touchpad and display by pressing the F6 key.

What I’d really like to see is someone combine the Apple TouchBar and the Asus ScreenPad on one device. That could make for some really interesting user experience mods to popular apps. For example, in an image editing app, you could use the TouchBar to choose different tools and the ScreenPad to set the tool’s options, without cluttering up the screen with lots of floating palettes.

The UX580 has a pretty impressive spec sheet to go with the new ScreenPad. You can choose between a Core i5, i7 or i9 processor with up to 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB RAM.

ASUS says the ZenBook Pro 15 (UX580) will be available mid-July 2018 at a recommended price of US$2299. There’s no offical word on local pricing yet.

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