It’s been more than two years since Microsoft dangled us with Windows 10X and the Surface Neo. If the Neo is still not officially dead (it would not be the only Neo to be resurrected), Windows has however evolved. Today, other Windows PC makers are working on dual screen laptops that offer different versions of Microsoft’s concept.
Indeed, with a Core i9 processor and a powerful integrated graphics processor Nvidia RTX, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo offers the kind of muscle one expects from a modern workstation. However, it would only be a simple workstation if it did not have the feature that is lacking in other mobile PCs intended for creative professionals: a second screen.
This display, the ScreenPad +, is a high-resolution OLED touchscreen that sits between the main screen and the keyboard, across the width of the device. Despite its odd appearance, it has offered the most significant differentiating feature on a laptop in years. A feature that easily overshadows the arrival of Yoga or Surface type 2-in-1s.
The foot for timelines and musical tracks
On a laptop like the Duo Pro, which is designed to accommodate applications with multiple palettes or pop-up interface components, the ScreenPad + offers a convenient solution for offloading the interface. Adobe’s Premiere Pro is a good example, since it is possible to extract the panel from the timeline and move it to the ScreenPad +. Its short and wide shape is ideal for working with timelines or music tracks in digital audio workstation software.
But even for those working with less dynamic forms of media, the ScreenPad + comes in handy. Editors who search online, for example, can take advantage of the main screen to group multiple web pages together, while still keeping a few paragraphs visible in a word processor on the second screen. Students can also include a note-taking app on the lower screen. And those who don’t need the power of the ZenBook Pro Duo can choose the smaller and less expensive 14-inch ZenBook Duo.
The ScreenPad + doesn’t offer as much additional working space as a second full-size screen placed next to the laptop. But what it lacks in terms of display area, it makes up for with its design and functional integration. It is easy for any Windows application that supports multiple windows to find use in ScreenPad +. Asus has also developed windowing enhancements that allow multiple windows to be docked on the second screen.
Handling the trackpad may not be welcomed by left-handers
Such utility must be justified; the additional screen forces the most significant ergonomic layout change since early PowerBooks pushed the keyboard up from the bottom of the clamshell to accommodate the trackball (and, later, the trackpad). Taking advantage of the width of the machine, the ZenBook Pro Duo moves the trackpad to the right of the keyboard and adds an optional illuminated keyboard.
However, handling the trackpad may not be welcomed by left-handers.
And other improvements are possible. First, even with Asus’ smart hinge that elevates its ScreenPad + when you open the laptop, the viewing angle is still a bit low for extended work. Asus offers an additional stand that attaches to the bottom of the laptop to elevate it further, as well as a palm rest designed to compensate for the lack of elevation in front of the keyboard. But these accessories make the experience more painful.
While the viewing angle could be improved, a lower ScreenPad-like display would cause problems on smaller laptops. That said, as the screen ratios of laptops revert to larger aspect ratios like 16:10 and 3: 2, the inclusion of a second screen (whose size falls between the Touch Bar Apple’s (now discontinued) and the ScreenPad +) would be worth reducing the size of the trackpad which has reached a point of diminishing returns.
Source : “ZDNet.com”
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