Earlier today at Computex 2018, local firm Asus revealed a new ZenBook featuring a touchscreen display in place of the mouse trackpad. The ScreenPad offers professionals a configurable toolbar and app launcher within an extended display module that doubles as a traditional mouse cursor control.

As you might expect of a pro-level ZenBook, the high performance specs include a 15.6 inch "NanoEdge" 4K UHD touchscreen display panel that supports 100 percent of Adobe's RGB color space (Full HD variant also available), Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory and Intel Core i9-8950HK, i7-8760H and i5-8300H processor options supported by up to 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 1 TB of SSD storage.

But it's the ScreenPad that's the headline-grabber here. Rather than mimic Apple and put a Touch Bar clone above the keyboard, Asus has opted to swap out the traditional laptop trackpad for a second display. The 5.5-inch Full HD IPS screen retains support for Microsoft Precision Touchpad, but has a toolbar that can be configured by the user, a configurable app launcher and the ability to mirror a smartphone courtesy of the Asus Sync app.

It can serve as a main screen extension – allowing users to drag down a chat window, for example, or a social media feed – and can handle up to four finger gestures. You could even use it as a below keyboard number pad. Though Asus has included support for popular software like Microsoft Office and apps such as YouTube and Spotify, the company plans to release a ScreenPad SDK in the coming months to encourage third party development.

Elsewhere, the ZenBook Pro 15 has Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support, USB 3.0 Type A, HDMI 1.4, a microSD card slot, a Harmon Kardon-certified audio system and a 71 Wh, 8-cell Li-Pol battery for up to 9.5 hours of usage between charges.

The ZenBook Pro 15 is due for release next month for a starting price of US$2,299.

Product page: ZenBook Pro 15

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