Taiwanese technology titan ASUS launched a range of cool, interesting and desirable technologies at Computex 2019 in Taiwan.
This includes a new and futuristic motherboard, new external USB-C powered portable screens (with one including full 10-point touch screen support that works on Androids and Windows computers), new dual screen notebooks featuring ScreenPad 2.0 and the even more impressive ZenBook Pro Duo ScreenPad Plus.
ASUS also has a range of smartphones under the ZenFone brand, but these are not sold in Australia. What we will see later this year is a ROG or Republic of Gamers second-gen Android smartphone to launch, set to take on high-end models from all brands including the Razer gaming Android phone, but more details on that later.
ASUS shares a sneak peek of its 2019 Computex Announcements on Sunday 26 May
Asus "Wiser Together" Computex 2019 Keynote video, where more surprises were unveiled:
We have to start with the twin types of dual screen notebooks, the first range of ZenBooks and VivoBooks offering what is known as ScreenPad 2.0, and then the ZenBook Pro Duo and ZenBook Duo range with ScreenPad Plus. ScreenPad 2.0 is not as impressive as ScreenPad Plus, but it will feature on more ZenBooks and will be more affordable, so here's a video to show you how it works – plenty more videos below of ScreenPad Plus below that you'll want to see!
Unlimit your creative vision – ZenBook 13/14/15 | ASUS (with Screenpad 2.0)
ScreenPad 2.0 is an update on last year's ScreenPad 1.0, which saw select ZenBook models replace the touch-only touchpad seen on notebooks most often under the keyboard with a touchpad that is also a screen.
In 2019, this has been upgraded to ScreenPad 2.0, with a larger touchpad and screen surface, a higher resolution screen and better performance while using less battery life.
A press on the logo in the corner of the ScreenPad and the touch mousing surface lights up, turning into a very useable second screen, able to show any app you want, be it music playback controls, or quick access to the ribbon commands from Office, Word, Excel and more.
It's customisable and instead of having its own App Store as was the case last year, it is now open to apps from the Windows Store, making life much easier for developers that want to create dedicated apps to the touchpad screen areas, although you can just drag any app into the space.
ASUS has launched ScreenPad 2.0 across the ZenBook range, and has introduced it to some VivBook models too, making the technology much more accessible and affordable.
But what if you wanted a much larger screen spanning the width of your notebook, and augmenting the top main screen with a second screen that could display up to three apps side by side, or display web pages or documents or spreadsheets with a much greater vertical space, as well as having that space be a fully touchable and proper stylus compatible area, with the same for the main screen?
That's where the ZenBook Pro Duo 15.6-inch and the ZenBook Duo 14-inch come in, each featuring a secondary display above the keyboard, like an Apple Touch Bar but on seriously huge amounts of steroids to become actual displays capable of running apps, programs and displaying whatever you want.
Need to have three apps open at the same time on the secondary display - such as a calendar, contacts and map while the main screen is where you're booking a hotel room?
Want a browser page that spans both screens so you can see more of the page you're looking at, at the same time? Or a Word document, or Excel spreadsheet?
Want to switch the apps on the main screen down to the secondary screen while moving those on the secondary screen up to the top?
Want the Start Menu and taskbar to appear on the second screen? Want to use 10-point multitouch and a stylus on both screens?
It's all possible, and in the footprint of a standard notebook computer, rather than have a screen to the side as you currently have to do with more traditional dual or more screens?
Of course, the second screen isn't as large as the main screen, but it's the biggest inbuilt second screen you've ever seen in traditional notebook dimensions, and it's definitely impressive - even though it will cost a pretty penny to buy one when it arrives in Q3 2019.
In Australian dollars, the 15.6-inch ZenBook Pro Duo is supposed to start at $4999, complete with 9th-gen Intel Core i9 processor and more, but the price will depend on the specs you choose.
There is a more detailed media release that I'll publish about these two dual-screen models, but to quote from Asus itself, here's what they have to say:
15.6-inch ZenBook Pro Duo (UX581)
"ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo (UX581) is a groundbreaking ultraportable laptop featuring the new ASUS ScreenPad Plus, a revolutionary full-width secondary touchscreen that expands and enhances the interactive capabilities offered by the original ScreenPad.
"ScreenPad Plus offers endless creative possibilities for content creators, allowing productivity-enhancing workflows and easy multitasking. It integrates seamlessly with the primary display, and the integrated ScreenXpert software includes a wide selection of useful apps, tools and utilities that allow users to easily enjoy the efficiency benefits of ScreenPad Plus.
"ZenBook Pro Duo delivers extreme performance for effortless creativity with up to 9th Generation Intel Core processors, up to 32GB RAM, an NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 2060, ultrafast storage with an up to 1TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD, and seamless connectivity with Wi Fi 6 with Gig+ (802.11ax) and Thunderbolt 3.
"ZenBook Pro Duo features a stunning 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) OLED HDR touchscreen for breathtaking visuals, a 4K (3840 x 1100) ScreenPad Plus and an ASUS NumberPad dual-function touchpad. The display is a frameless four-sided ASUS NanoEdge design, with ultraslim bezels for immersive visuals and an ultracompact form factor."
14-inch ZenBook Duo (UX481)
"For creative professionals requiring a smaller second-screen form factor, the 14-inch ZenBook Duo is the perfect choice. It supports the same great ScreenPad Plus features as ZenBook Pro Duo, but in a lighter and smaller chassis. Powered by up to an Intel Core i7 processor and GeForce MX250 graphics, it has an FHD NanoEdge display and an FHD ScreenPad Plus.
Here are two official ASUS videos on the new Zenbooks with dual screens:
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo – The laptop of tomorrow | ASUS
ASUS ScreenPad Plus Quick Introduction | ASUS
So, what else were the main highlights of the SUS Computex 2019 launch?
Well, part of the new Asus branding is a stylised "A" monogram, which looks a bit like the Star Trek communicator and insignia, but which is supposed to be "a monogram signifying ASUS values and history created by ASUS Design Center to celebrate the [30th] anniversary as well as unique designs that embody the ASUS focus on refined aesthetics, outstanding performance and delivering exceptional user experiences.
"The foundation of the “A” monogram is a representation of the Chinese symbol for people and shows the humanitarian side of ASUS. The top part creates an arrow shape signifying the ASUS ability to overcome obstacles and ascend industry norms, and the overall shape when flipped resembles a heart, which speaks to the heartfelt affection and endearment for life".
ASUS chairman Jonney Shih said: "ASUS is honoured to have been serving the hardcore tech community, enthusiast, gamers, creators, and tasteful consumers for the last 30 years.
"I am tremendously excited and proud that we have stayed true to our relentless engineering origin on this incredible journey — one that has made us wiser and stronger together. We aspire to continue to create the most ubiquitous, intelligent, heartfelt, and joyful smart life for everyone for decades to come."
Then there's the ASUS ZenBook Edition 30, a 30th and limited edition notebook computer. Billed as featuring "a luxurious design with a genuine leather lid cover and an 18-karat rose gold plated logo and exclusively equipped with a complete set of premium accessories", we are told that "it is also the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop featuring a 95% screen-to-body ratio, Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce MX250 discrete graphics.
ZenBook Edition 30 (UX334FL)
ASUS states: "The limited-edition ASUS ZenBook Edition 30 is a unique celebration of 30 years of ASUS innovation. It draws on the ASUS heritage but is designed with an eye on the future and features the finest leather craftsmanship as a mark of our confidence.
"ZenBook Edition 30 brings a futuristic twist to that classic look, with a lid encased in luxurious Pearl White genuine Italian leather for a pure, bold style statement. It is exclusively equipped with a complete set of premium accessories, including a Pearl White mouse, a leather-look box and mouse pad and a genuine-leather sleeve. It's a very special collection for a very special laptop.
"The combination of performance and mobility is a defining feature of the ZenBook series, and ZenBook Edition 30 features a full complement of high-performance components including up to 8th Generation Intel Core i7 quad-core CPUs, NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics, 16GB RAM, ultrafast PCIe SSDs and gigabit-class Wi-Fi.
"A four-sided frameless NanoEdge display, with a 95% screen-to-body ratio gives it the world's most compact footprint in its class. ZenBook Edition 30 also comes with the new ScreenPad 2.0, upgrading the traditional laptop experience with an interactive secondary screen that enhances productivity and multitasking."
New Portable 10-point Touch Screen Monitor
Now we get to the ZenScreen Touch (MB16AMT) — a very cool second monitor that I was told would cost less than US$400 — and which was fantastic to use when I tried the unit out with an Android phone, a PC and even a Mac (although Macs don't yet support anything beyond a single touch point – or at least, for now)/ .
Here's a video – details below.
ASUS ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT Portable Monitor -Tap into Productivity | ASUS
We're told that "ASUS ZenScreen Touch is a 900 gram and 9mm light portable monitor with a large 7800 mAh battery designed to take mobile productivity to new heights.
"Its responsive 10-point touch screen supports swipe, scroll, drag and pinch gestures for effortless and intuitive interactivity to help users get tasks done more efficiently. The IPS display also supports the innovative ZenScreen Touch app, which enables the display and control of apps from Android phones for a large-screen productivity boost.
"In addition to providing a more comfortable view of any content, this large scale is perfect for tackling complex tasks, such as editing documents, photos, and videos, making it faster and easier to get them done while away from home or the office.
"ZenScreen Touch also features hybrid-signal USB Type-C and Type-A connectivity, which enables both the video signal and power to be supplied over a single cable, simplifying connectivity and providing a more streamlined and clutter-free usage experience.
"Along with micro-HDMI support, ZenScreen Touch can display content from a wide range of portable devices, such as laptops, smartphones, cameras, and consoles, providing an expansive view for the best work and entertainment experiences on the go."
Next up are two flagship motherboards.
We start with the Prime X299 Edition 30
ASUS explains: "The origin of ASUS Prime series motherboards date back to 1989 with the launch of ISA-386C, the first ASUS motherboard and a defining step along the path to becoming the world's leading motherboard brand.
"The Prime X299 Edition 30 motherboard honors this legacy of innovation and performance with a wealth of features and accessible tuning options designed to make building a cutting-edge system within everyone's reach.
"Prime X299 Edition 30 supports the latest Intel Core X-series high-end desktop processors, which feature high core counts to deliver tremendous performance for prosumers and content creators. The motherboard features a new flagship 16-stage power solution and enhanced cooling that enable the latest processors to achieve their full performance potential.
"Two M.2 slots with passive heat sinks enable ultrafast, unthrottled data transfers, and dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and accompanying DisplayPort inputs give content creators an easy way to connect chains of external storage and displays. Built-in 5G Aquantia Ethernet, Intel Gigabit LAN and Wi-Fi 6 ensure high-performance, lag-free wired and wireless networking.
"Prime X299 Edition 30 also features a 2-inch LiveDash OLED that displays vital system stats, such as clock speeds, temperatures and voltages for easy performance monitoring. It can also display custom text and images for users who want to personalise their build.
"A second LiveDash display is included in the new Smart Control Console, an external module that connects via USB and comes with a stand that sits neatly on top of typical monitors. In addition to displaying system information, Smart Control Console offers convenient voice and hand-gesture control."
This is followed by "Prime Utopia"
"The Prime Utopia is an early prototype of the ASUS vision and aspirations for future high-end desktop motherboards. It’s engineered with a range of cooling enhancements to unleash the full potential of next-gen high-core-count processors and high-performance system components, and has a host of innovations that take customisation and control to the next level.
"One of the most salient features is the convention-breaking placement of PCIe slots at the back of the board for improved thermal management. The layout frees up prime estate on the front of the board for more expansion cards and M.2 drives, and enables heat from next-gen CPU, graphics cards, and M.2 drives to be optimally managed for throttle-free performance.
"In addition to optimising thermal zones for high-performance components, Prime Utopia also features integrated water cooling that helps dispel the heat generated when fue'ling high core count processors. Keeping the CPU cool with custom water-cooling loops is made easier by the introduction of the proprietary, patent-pending Hydra Cortex fan header.
"The Hydra Cortex header can be connected and control up to four fans individually, simplifying cable routing to water cooling radiators. ASUS is currently working with partners to develop fans that are compatible with this new technology.
"Recogniaing that many high-end-desktop users have different needs, Prime Utopia features an innovative modular rear I/O and offers a selection of modules for users to choose their preferred compliment of ports and connectivity.
"It also comes with a 7-inch full-colour OLED panel with touch-control. The panel can be connected via cable or Wi-Fi, enabling flexible placement directly on the desktop for users to modify BIOS settings, control fan speeds, turn the system on or off, or monitor real-time system stats."
More to come!
The writer travelled to Computex 2019 as a guest of ASUS Australia.