ASUS surprised the whole laptop industry with their introduction of the Screenpad with their ZenBook Pro series. Recently launched in the Philippines, this ingenious method replaces a long and traditional part of a laptop by giving it a new life through a screen.
With us is the ZenBook Pro 15 Core i9-8950HK variant with NVIDIA GTX 1050ti 4GB DDR5 graphics to match ultimate laptops such as 15-inch Macbooks with graphics.
With an attempt to “kick the bar” or the touch bar aside, the screenpad is a unique offering of ASUS in giving consumers a step ahead of the pack. But is it enough to wow or convince you to buy it?
The ZenBook Pro 15 is any other ZenBook iteration we have seen recently, but the factor it will stand out is the illuminated touchpad which houses the Screenpad. Its encased in a frosted glass while the mini screenpad is bright and vibrant, it feels like any other ZenBook touchpad.
Display wise, the ZenBook Pro 15 is stunning in detail. We love how accurate and yet bouncy the colors are, giving maximum impressions for color savvy geeks like me. Color reproduction is spot-on, though brightness can still improve as some harsh bright environments as it can hinder the screen. But, we think the screen brightness is challenged as its a touchscreen display.
As with our complaint with previous ZenBooks, the metallic spun finish might sound amusing but we find it now a fatigue in “impressiveness” and still captures a lot of fingerprint marks. Personally, we prefer the glass cover in the ZenBook Infinity UX301 series around 4 years ago. At least in the ZenBook Pro series, ASUS could have done something special to add flare as a “Pro” series.
The overall weight of the ZenBook Pro 15 is at 1.88kg, yes it’s on the heavy side. But we aren’t complaining about a laptop with such powerful specifications. The good thing it comes with a carrying sleeve out of the box.
Ports are good with the following IO
- 2 x Type-C™ USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Thunderbolt™ 3)
- 2 x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x Combo audio jack
- 1 x MicroSD card slot
It puzzles us why ASUS decided into a MicroSD storage whereas most cameras today are using SD size with high performance. Quite counter-intuitive for video/photo content creators…Aside from this, this is the only gripe we can give to the input/output ports of the ZenBook Pro 15.
Getting the big elephant to be acknowledged is a big deal, is the Screenpad useful? The answer is actually subjective as I will explain in three points.
- Selected apps are still limited – Screenpad is supporting apps like Microsoft Office, Spotify and the internal multimedia apps like music player, launcher, calculator, and calendar. While this isn’t much yet, you’ll love the Screenpad if you’re a Microsoft Office addict as you can quickly access settings from Paragraph, Font Style, and even colors without leaving where you are.
- Screenpad as the second screen is great – If you like watching videos with your phone while using the laptop, then we think you can be a target of the Screenpad. Additionally, the secondary screen is great for scripts, transcribing notes, or even in extended mode to always have a secondary screen handy.
- If you don’t like opening a lot of apps – Always accessing your calculator? How about music? even using the screenpad as a launcher for your most used applications is a great way to declutter your desktop or even organize your files.
Though flexible for Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, we encountered a dilemma that commands implemented by the screenpad can’t be undone through a simple ctrl+z.
Despite using an Intel Core i9 processor, the ZenBook Pro 15 we have is an engineering unit. Thus the final performance for the CPU and GPU are still yet to be tested, but we still put our standard benchmark for you to see.
Overall, we think our unit is just in its early stages reasoning why its throttled in some scores. But in real world using the ZenBook Pro 15, we didn’t feel any lag dragging in heavy apps like big image editing or premire pro editing. The 512GB PCIE storage is blazing fast enough to open everything in a snap, unless you’re an impatient one…then you need a desktop with top specs in our opinion.
Battery / Adapter
The UX580 claims to have up to 9.5 hours of battery life, but in our experience, the best we could stretch out is almost 5 hours with the screenpad activated and above 6 hours with the screenpad disabled. Given the powerful specifications of our unit, we think this is normal for a Core i9 laptop with dedicated GTX 1050ti NVIDIA graphics.
We still cringe every time we see the power adapter of ASUS especially for devices like this one. For a 19.5V – 7.7A / 150V adapter, we think ASUS could have improved on this factor in pushing the definition of premium and portability for a ZenBook. But it does it job with a rapid full charge in less than 1 hour and 30 minutes even while using it.
We will get it out of our system, given the spacious body of the ZenBook Pro 15, it has one of the most powerful speaker systems we listened on a laptop. It has two Harman Kardon speakers beneath but resonates in the keyboard as well. Volume is loud with proper clarity for voice, instruments and even just the right bass effect as its warm enough as compared to other laptops.
Overall, the speakers standalone can supply good audio in a small room or a group of 3 people. The idea of editing videos in a flash, like same day edit workload.
We can honestly say that you will consider the screenpad if you have professions that would really utilize the screenpad in extended view purposes. Currently, the software compatible with the screenpad is limited but ASUS is now making ways to expand its capabilities soon.
Performance wise, we think the ZenBook Pro 15 won’t let you down especially for content creation both photo and video. It’s both a gaming capable powerhouse for some good demanding titles, and serious productivity like graphics designing, video editing, and even programming.
What we love
- High notch speed especially loading applications
- sRGB compliant screen with good color reproduction
- Screenpad is useful via dual-screen especially when watching
- Fast Charging
What are just okay
- Weight is expected
- Fingerprint Magnet body
- ZenBook look is getting normal
- Battery Life is average
What we don’t love
- Commands via Screenpad can’t be undone with a ctrl+z function
- Micro SD card reader is counterproductive for content creators
- Fan noise and temperature management can still improve
- The charger is bulky as compared to its nearest competitor
Price wise the ZenBook Pro 15 leaves the ZenBook to its highest price in history, but its something that is very justifiable in our opinion. Currently, there are two variants powered by Intel Core i7-8750H at Php109,995 (512GB PCI-E SSD) and Php119,995 (1TB PCI-E SSD). Purchasing at this range is a MacBook Pro with touch bar, but this one is already with discreet GTX 1050Ti graphics and a similar concept navigation (Screenpad).
If you are a serious content creator, we think either the ZenBook Pro 14 or 15 will fulfill your content-centric needs. For now, the screenpad might be limited, but we think ASUS is into something that will boom in the future. That’s why we are awarding the ZenBook Pro 15 UX580 our 100% Satisfying Premium Laptop award, we’re sure that the screenpad will be a good addition into your arsenal as a content creator.