Unveiled at Computex 2018, the Asus ZenBook Pro is the new pinnacle of Asus’ premium laptop range, and it comes with an attention-grabbing new feature: a smartphone-sized touchscreen in the place of the regular touchpad. I got to grips with the two ZenBook Pro models and their so-called ScreenPads here in Taipei, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well implemented and potentially useful this apparent gimmick feature is. Unlike Apple’s limited and unhelpful MacBook Pro Touch Bar, the Asus ScreenPad doesn’t take anything useful away like physical keys. It resides exactly where the laptop’s touchpad usually does, and it works exactly as a regular touchpad does. But the ScreenPad is “the world’s first smart touchpad,” in Asus’ words, because it can also serve as a multifunctional touch-enabled display, a sort of dumbed-down smartphone that’s integrated with your Windows PC. Spanning 5.5 inches with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, the ScreenPad can be turned into your app launcher, calculator, calendar, or numeric keypad. It can also play back YouTube videos via a Chrome extension, or it can simply extend the ZenBook Pro’s main display. I tried using it in all those various ways, and it wasn’t terrible. I quickly adapted to the switching between modes — which is done by pressing F6, no need for hunting around settings and menus — and where something wasn’t obvious, it only took a little trial and error to figure it out. Perhaps the biggest confusion stems from the extender mode: that’s when I… [Read full story]
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