I've lost the count of the number of times I've attended a major technical exhibition like IFA, and found myself having to ask about the product I'm looking at is the new or previous model. Tech companies publish too many products to many products. But there is no problem with Asus's new ZenBooks, which is dramatic, fun, wonderful less than its predecessors. The key to everything? Drastically reduced facades that make the former large 13-inch ZenBook a small laptop while the new 14-inch ZenBook has a footprint smaller than the previous 13-inch model. It's a lost triumph of a generation upgrade.
ZenBooks (minus some other qualifiers like Pro or Flip) are basically Asus medium sized laptops. Their raison d'être balances a high-end appearance with obtainable pricing. They start at $ 899, although the bottom spec comes with a bad 4GB of RAM so I would definitely recommend upgrading the memory and maybe the storage onboard, which you can never get enough of either. In addition, most of the major improvements in the new ZenBooks universal across the line include ZenBook 1
First and foremost, the new display is now glossy instead of matte and surrounded by just a few millimeters of edging on all sides, it adds an improvement in brightness, color and contrast along with the great advantage of making the whole machine so much more portable. Asus still manages to fit an HD [Top] webcam on the screen flanked by infrared cameras that make a 3D image of your face for Windows Hello authentication. I like the ErgoLift hinge, which is subtle than it's on ZenBook S, but it still lifts on the back of the keyboard at some degrees and slightly shrinks the screen while ensuring a more ergonomic writing position.
Asus brings Intels 8-core Core processors to work on their new ZenBook line, with the maximum specifications, including a quad-core Core i7, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q graphics (on ZenBook 15), 16GB of RAM and PCIe- storage. The company also holds almost all ports in its previous generation in place, just nixing a USB-A port and unfortunately the SD card reader. The new ZenBooks can only read microSD memory cards, even though they maintain two USB-A and a USB-C port, the latter can also be used to charge the carrier.
A less obvious upgrade than the screen is made to the ZenBook keyboard. It is less plastic than before, with a metallic appearance and it has a backlight for the first time. I enjoyed my time writing on it. The trackpad also works well, but Asus has managed to snap an extra gimmick into it by letting it be used as an optional disc on ZenBook 13 and 14. It can work in two-use mode so you can both navigate the Windows interface and print numbers when needed.
If it's not already clear, I'm impressed with the leap Asus has made from its former laptop computer, which now looks desperately dated. The metal construction that surrounds the new ZenBooks is robust and soothing, the keyboard and screen are of good quality, and the port and spec options are respectable. I wanted to see a thinner aspect ratio, as the 16: 9 1080p panels you can come across the ZenBook line are better suited to watching movies than getting the job, but I think that a consumer age might prefer to prioritize light entertainment anyway. Only the 15-inch ZenBook has a resolution upgrade option that goes up to 4K resolution, allowing the smaller laptops to have Full HD only.
Asus says it wants its new ZenBook laptops on sale next month, with prices starting at $ 899.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge