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Computex 2019: ASUS unveils new dual-screen ZenBook laptops

While Computex officially kicked off today, ASUS was keen to get ahead of the game and held a ‘Sneak Peek' event on Sunday evening. There was a range of new products on show, but undoubtedly the dual-screen ZenBook Duo and ZenBook Pro Duo laptops were the main attraction. Leo was on hand to tell you everything you need to know.

Starting with the ZenBook Pro Duo, this is a 15.6in laptop with not one, but two screens. The primary display is a crisp 4K (3840×2160) OLED touch screen, but you'll probably notice the smaller display first. This measures 14in and sits above the keyboard, with a 3840×1100 (32:9) resolution – giving you essentially half the screen real-estate of the primary screen.

ASUS calls this ‘ScreenPad Plus', and the idea behind it is two-fold. If you're a gamer or streamer, you can use the primary screen as normal but position your stats bar or chat window on the secondary panel. Alternatively, if you're a professional user, the secondary screen would make for a natural home for your Photoshop toolbar or even video editing timeline. There is also scope to position up to three apps side-by-side in this secondary panel.

As for the rest of the hardware, processor choice comes down to the 6-core i7-9750H or Intel's i9-9980HK 8-core chip. As for graphics, it seems there is only one option here, and that is full-fat RTX 2060. Memory capacity for the model we saw wasn't specified, but there is support for up to 32GB of 2666MHz RAM. Other key features include Intel WiFi 6 (802.11ax), 1x Thunderbolt 3 connector and a 71Wh battery. Availability is slated ‘from June' but we have no word on pricing yet – but it won't come cheap!

If you're reading this and thinking, ‘the dual-screen tech looks cool but I probably don't need all of that hardware power' then you're in luck, as there's also a non-pro ZenBook Duo. This is slightly smaller, with a 14in 1920×1080 primary display and a 12.9in ScreenPad Plus secondary display. We weren't told the exact resolution of the secondary display, but assuming it has kept the same 32:9 aspect ratio as the ZenBook Pro Duo, that would make it 1920×540.

So the display is smaller and lower-resolution, and the hardware is also not quite as over-the-top. The processors are Intel's i7 U-series chips – like the i7-8565U – and while there is still dedicated graphics, this comes in the form of Nvidia's less powerful MX250 2GB chip. So it won't appeal to gamers in the same way as the Pro model, but the discrete graphics will still offer significantly increased horsepower over Intel's integrated graphics.

Rounding out our look at the laptops on show, Leo also got hands on with the ZenBook 14 and ZenBook 15. These also have two screens, but not in the same way as the Duo – here, the touchpad doubles up as a secondary screen known as ScreenPad 2.0. Both models have i7 U-series processors, with the 14in using the MX250 graphics, while the 15in has GTX 1650 Max-Q.

It wasn't just laptops at the Sneak Peek, though, as we also got a first look at the new ROG Strix power supplies, with the headline feature being the incredibly quiet operation – ASUS claims just 15dB of noise output. Leo also saw a new ROG Theta Electret gaming headset, built with two drivers per earcup – one dynamic and one electret. That contributes to a very large overall footprint, but we'll have to wait and see if the sound benefits as a result.

Lastly, ASUS also unveiled the ROG Strix XG17 portable display which connects to your laptop, or even Nintendo Switch, via USB-C. It's a 17.3in IPS panel with a blazing-fast 240Hz refresh-rate, and interestingly it is battery powered. It's very much designed for use on the go, so if you want a second screen for gaming in your hotel room, this could be just the thing – though it is likely to be very expensive.

KitGuru says: ASUS had a lot going on at its Sneak Peek event on the Sunday before Computex, but the dual-screen ZenBook Duo really grabbed our attention. Would any of you consider buying a laptop like that?

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