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Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:30:00 -0400

ZenBook Pro 15 review (2018): The touchscreen touchpad is no gimmick

With the ZenBook Pro, ASUS is finally starting to out-innovate Apple. Mostly, that's because of the ScreenPad, a display that's tucked beneath the ZenBook Pro's trackpad. It's a similar concept to the MacBook Pro's TouchBar, but it can actually be used as a tiny second monitor for basic multitasking. That's potentially much more useful than some LCD function keys. The ScreenPad isn't quite perfect, but it's one of the most intriguing twists on modern laptop designs that we've seen. It's just too bad the ZenBook Pro's battery life holds it back.


We've seen similar attempts at throwing a screen into a touchpad as far back as 2010, when Acer introduced the Aspire Ethos. But that trackpad was slow and clunky. The ZenBook Pro 15 takes the concept to another level: The ScreenPad is a 5.5-inch 1080p display underneath a glass covering. When it's off, it looks and feels like a typical smooth trackpad. But when it's on, it makes the ZenBook Pro look truly distinct.

The ZenBook Pro has been competing with Apple's MacBook Pro for years, right down to the unibody aluminum case. But ASUS is getting better at building hardware. This laptop feels absolutely solid and sturdy, without any of the worrying flex I saw on the ZenBook 3 a few years ago. And at 4.1 pounds, it's only a tad heavier than the 15-inch MacBook Pro.


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