Asus has just announced its new lightweight ZenBook notebook series at Computex 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan. As part of the series, Asus is rolling out a number of models for notebook in three different screen sizes launched under the names Asus ZenBook 13, ZenBook 14, and ZenBook 15. These notebooks come with the latest 9th gen Intel processors with options of up to Core i7-8565U Processors along with an option of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q with up to 4GB GDDR5 VRAM.
The primary specifications of the Asus ZenBook 2019 lineup clearly indicate that the company is aiming at professionals who want a sleek machine that is beautiful as well as powerful. Likely offering a good MacBook alternative on Windows side of things. Talking about the device, a day before the announcement, I got the chance to spend some time with the Asus ZenBook 13 UX334 to get a feel about what Asus is offering in the premium segment of ultraportable notebooks. So, without waiting any longer, let’s dive into the first impressions of the Asus ZenBook 13 UX334.
Improved ScreenPad 2.0 on the Asus ZenBook 13
Similar to the Asus ZenBook Duo Pro, the highlight of the Asus ZenBook 13 (or ZenBook 14 and even ZenBook 15 in extension) is the improved ScreenPad 2.0 technology that puts a secondary display in the TouchPad area of the laptop. Comparing the second generation of the technology, Asus has improved the technology in ways that is significant to improve the user experience. The improvements include better resolution and a brighter screen.
When compared to the first generation, the second generation ScreenPad comes with a number of settings including brightness controls, ability to change the background and toggle battery saver mode along with options to change resolution and refresh rate. Talking about the resolution, users have an option to choose between two resolutions, one for a higher resolution that is meant for better content delivery) and an option to lower the resolution (for things not as important).
Asus has also introduced variable screen refresh rate with the option to choose between 50Hz (better battery life) and 60Hz (better image quality). Similar to last year, the ScreenPad also comes with an option to turn the touchpad into a dedicated number pad. The company has also added dedicated ScreenXpert software along with ScreenPad 2.0 to improve the user experience. As part of the software, the ZenBook 13 also comes with handy software like ‘Handwriting’, ‘Quick Key’, ‘Slide Xpert’, ‘Doc Xpert’, ‘Sheet Xpert’, and ‘App Deals’ apps.
As noted with the Asus ZenBook Duo Pro, it is a great thing that Asus has not locked the secondary display to dedicated apps and instead, users can simply drag and drop anything they want on the screen. This ensures that Asus is not dependent on developers for the success of its dual-screen featuring laptop future. An idea that I am completely sold out on after using the ScreenPad 2.0 and the ScreenPadPlus. Adding this feature in the ZenBook 13 (and 14 and 15 in extension) means that the company wants the professionals to adopt this feature which will push major software makers to develop useful custom interfaces aiming the secondary display, which in turn will make this more mainstream.
Asus ZenBook 13 updated design and hardware
As it goes with the launch of a new generation of a notebook, Asus has improved the design of ZenBook series while updating the hardware to the latest that one can get in a laptop right now. We have already covered the changes in our launch post. However, to recap, the Asus ZenBook 13 2019 comes with a 13.3-inch display with narrow bezels because of the NanoEdge display along with FHD+ resolution and 178-degree side-view technology for wider and better display angles. The display also comes with 72 percent coverage for the NTSC color space.
As mentioned above, the laptop can be configured with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor along with Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM along with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 and up to 16GB LPDDR3 graphics. Other features include up to 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port with Type-C connector, a USB Gen 2 port with Type A connector, a USB 2.0 port with Type A connector, an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and an audio combo socket. Talking about the second screen, we get 5.65-inch Super IPS display with FHD+ resolution. The touchpad is covered with glass and comes with precision Windows drivers for good performance.
The Asus SonicMaster stereo audio system on the laptop is tuned by Harman Kardon and sports an array microphone for Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa support. The laptop also comes with a 3D IR camera on the front which is likely for Windows Hello support but we didn’t get to test it. Asus ZenBook 13 comes with a 50Wh three-cell battery where the company claims that the laptop will provide you to 14 hours of backup, something which is likely to be less than the claimed numbers in the real world. The company will also provide a 65W charger along with the laptop to keep things running.
Addition of the ScreenPad 2.0 on the ZenBook 13 (and the entire high-end ZenBook series) is a defining move for Asus. The company has showcased what the future is and put its money where its mouth is. There are no two ways about showcasing the future and them not really doing anything with the claims. Asus has improved on its technology with actual products which implement this new technology instead of mere claims like some other companies. With the Asus ZenBook Duo and ZenBook Duo Pro holding the ultra high-end spectrum of the market, it is up to the ZenBook series to take on the rather middle of (read high-end) of the market.
The company actually thinks that this is the future of laptops before the next frontier. We must give credit to a company that tries to innovate in a somewhat stagnating market and then actually back its claims with real products without any actual excuses. The ZenBook series along with ZenBook Duo on the ultra high-end and the VivoBook on the low-end could be the beginning of a much-needed change, and a wake-up call for other laptop makers.