- The ZenBook Pro UX580 and UX480 have embedded full-HD ScreenPads
- The ScreenPad can be used as a secondary screen or run its own apps
- Both laptops are slim and light, and have top-end specifications
The ScreenPad is a 5.5-inch full-HD IPS touchscreen in place of the usual trackpad. It works as a trackpad for Windows 10, and if it’s set to Traditonal Trackpad mode, you wouldn’t know the difference at all. That all changes when you hit F6 on the keyboard, which lets you cycle between all available options. You can use it as a secondary monitor in Extension Display mode (sic), and Windows treats it just like any external display, except that it’s positioned below the main one instead of to either side. Alternatively, you can run mini apps on it in ScreenPad mode, very much like the desktop gadgets that were once popular with Windows.
You can set the ScreenPad to act as a standard trackpad but still display a photo of your choice – justright-click on an image file in Windows Explorer and select Set as ScreenPad Background. Asus is promoting various app integrations and browser extensions – for example, you can already control YouTube video playback or manipulate objects in some Microsoft Office programs. An SDK will soon be released, so anyone can develop apps for the ScreenPad, and they’ll be distributed through the Windows Store or Asus’ own Giftbox store that’s preloaded on all its laptops.
All that aside, there are things to address on the hardware and design fronts. The ZenBook Pro UX580 and UX480 aren’t just two different size options; they have completely different designs. Both are available in the same Deep Dive Blue colour with Rose Gold trim, and just like last year, we would really like to have a neutral colour option. The 14-inch UX480 has en “ergolift hinge” which inclines the lower half slightly when opened, while the 15-inch UX580 is a simple clamshell. The larger model gets up to a six-core Intel Core i9 CPU, and a super-accurate Pantone-validated 4K screen, while the smaller one tops out with a Core i7 and full-HD screen.