The new Asus ZenBook 15 is the newest version of the classic ZenBooks with a new and improved dual screen setup for enhanced productivity.
This is certainly a nifty little ZenBook. The design aesthetics are as pleasing as ever and the addition of the upgraded SmartPad 2.0 make this an interesting device indeed. But is this screen just a gimmick or is the ZenBook 15 worth upgrading to? We had a little hands-on time at Computex to find out.
Powerful productivity tools in a compact frame
- Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU
- 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage
- Gigabit-class Wi-Fi 5
- USB 3.1, USB 2.0 and USB-C connections
- MicroSD card reader
- HDMI output
Although the star of Asus' show might well be the stunning Asus ZenBook Pro Duo with its full-width 4K secondary screen, the new ZenBook 15 should certainly not be overlooked.
This is a compact form factor laptop which packs some fairly serious punch thanks to an eighth generation Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. There's plenty of RAM and a fairly decent sized PCIe SSD hard drive too, all packed into a tiny frame.
The new 2019 version of the ZenBook 15 has shed some size too. It's now 12 per cent smaller than the previous model from 2017. Asus also claims it's one of the world's smallest 15-inch laptops available. At just 18.9mm thick and weighing just 1.65kg, it's certainly a diddy little thing.
This new ZenBook is designed to be compact, mobile and powerful too. Though the main focus may well be the upgraded ScreenPad 2.0 technology, the other build aspects of this laptop should not be overlooked.
The design, for example, includes that classic Zen-inspired spun-metal which gives the laptop a delightful eye-catching accent. It's not just powerful, it's also good looking and beauty is very much more than skin deep.
As well as being easy on the eye and lightweight, the new ZenBook 15 has also been designed with comfort in mind. An ErgoLift hinge design ensures it sits comfortably on the desk and gives you the perfect typing position. This also helps improve laptop cooling and audio performance too.
There's plenty of connectivity options, including the MicroSD card reader which is painfully lacking on some other laptops we've seen of late.
As it's portable, this ZenBook has been put through ultra-demanding military standard testing to ensure it can stand up to use and above. Vibration tests, drop tests and various temperature exposure testing standards have been set and broken for this machine. You can, therefore, be confident that it'll stand up to what you throw at it and you can use it pretty much anywhere.
Stunning screen and an extra one to boot
- 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3820 x 2160) NanoEdge display
- 178-degree viewing angles
- New and improved ScreenPad 2.0
- 95 per cent screen-to-body ratio with a 15.6-inch screen
- Frameless NanoEdge display with ultraslim bezels
- Screenpad supports adjustable resolution up to 2160 x 1080 with a 60Hz refresh rate
- Up to 17 hours battery life
The main screen on the new ZenBook 15 is a delight. It supports up to a 5.6-inch 4K NanoEdge display with decent viewing angles and a good colour range, but the eye is almost instantly drawn to the ScreenPad 2.0 setup. That's a trackpad that doubles as an extra screen for the sake of productivity.
We've seen this tech before on last year's ZenBook Pro 15, but now it's been improved further. This is a smartphone-like touchscreen display that can be used in a number of different ways. You can use it to play videos, pause/play/skip Spotify or simply to keep an eye on incoming message from friends.
It also theoretically works as an excellent productivity enhancer. It's compatible with apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store but also works with adaptive toolbars for things like Excel, Powerpoint and more.
The new and improved ScreenPad 2.0 design means this secondary touchscreen display uses Intel Discrete Graphics instead of the main GPU and thus drains less battery helping the device to last longer.
Asus is claiming you can get as many as 17 hours out of this compact laptop before it needs a charge too, which is quite a bold claim, but an impressive one if it's accurate.
Sweet sounds and listening capabilities
- Asus SonicMaster stereo audio system
- Harman Kardon certified speakers
- Array microphone with Cortana and Alexa voice-recognition support
As well as looking fantastic and having plenty of productive enhancing power, the new ZenBook is also capable on the audio front too. It boasts Harman Kardon certified speakers supported by the Asus SonicMaster stereo audio system to deliver a crisp and rich sound considering the size of the frame. A smart amplifier delivers louder sounds with less distortion resulting in surprisingly good audio.
The productivity support continues on into the design here too, as the ZenBook 15 also features an array microphone with both Amazon Alexa and Cortana voice-recognition support. So as well as making use of both screens to do what you need to, you can also just ask it for help.
The new Asus ZenBook 15 is certainly an interesting device. It has a lot of potential, looks great and packs a fairly decent spec too.
The secondary screen may be a gimmick for many and take some getting used to for others, but it could also be a brilliant addition to your everyday life.
Whether you use it for just watching YouTube videos or chatting with friends on the sly where your boss can't see, we won't judge.
If you're looking for a new ultra-compact, ultraportable 15-inch laptop, the new ZenBook 15 probably should be on your shortlist.
The Asus ZenBook 15 (and other variants) will be available to from June 2019, with pricing to be confirmed shortly.