Last year’s ZenBook Pro wasn’t a very good laptop, but we found ourselves pleasantly surprised with its key selling point. The ScreenPad, a smartphone-like screen that replaced the traditional trackpad, turned out to be less of a gimmick than one might have expected, and so Asus is going all in on the idea for its 2019 lineup of mainstream laptops.
Basically, the ScreenPad 2.0 on the new ZenBook S works a lot more like a smartphone. Asus has revamped the interface with Android-style menu buttons and icons, and it’s easier to switch in and out of regular trackpad mode than before.
I spent a while using the ScreenPad 2.0 and found it to be mostly pretty cool. I doubt I’d use it most of the time, but there are certain use cases where I’d be glad it was there, and it was always responsive to the touch. Most importantly, though, it’s just a much better traditional trackpad than what you see on most Windows laptops. If turning trackpads into smartphones is what it takes for Windows to get great trackpads, I’m here for it.
The 2019 ZenBook S lineup comes in 13-, 14-, and 15-inch sizes. All feature up to Intel Core i7 processors, but the 15-inch model can have an Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU while the smaller versions only go up to an MX250.
One of the biggest complaints we had with the ZenBook Pro was its terrible battery life. Asus says the ScreenPad 2.0 has been redesigned along with the laptop’s software to improve this — the original implementation required the discrete GPU to be fired up far more often. Asus is claiming 2.5 times better battery life with the ZenBook S with 9 hours of endurance when the ScreenPad is turned on, which we’ll believe when we see for ourselves.
The ScreenPad 2.0 is also making its way to the VivoBook range, Asus’ lower-cost laptop line (pictured above). The 2019 models have 13- and 15-inch options, both supporting up to Core i7 processors and MX250 graphics.
Here’s what one of them looks like playing Windows 10 bloatware classic Candy Crush Saga on the ScreenPad:
If that’s what you’re into.
No pricing or availability details as yet for any of these Asus laptops, as is typical for the company’s Computex announcements.