Asus VivoBook, the most affordable series of ultra-portable notebooks, has just received a refresh at Computex 2019. As it goes with yearly refresh cycle, Asus VivoBook 2019 has received new Intel 9th generation processors along with improvements in design and the introduction of ScreenPad 2.0 to this segment. Addition of new processors and tweaks to the design are not new for new generations of products. However, the addition of the ScreenPad 2.0 is a significant move for Asus.
This is because not many companies actually add such newly developed technology in its low-end laptops. Though, the company clarified it’s move stating that it wants to bring the latest technology that it is working on to the masses and adding that to all its laptop lineups across the board is an interesting way to go about it.
Just about a day before the launch of the Asus VivoBook series along with the new Asus ZenBook series and the top of the line Asus ZenBook Duo Pro, I got some time with the VivoBook S14. Here are my initial impressions of the Asus VivoBook S14.
ScreenPad 2.0; innovation for the common man
If you have already read my first impressions for the Asus ZenBook Duo Pro and the Asus ZenBook 13 then this first section will not come as any surprise to you. In fact, I will forgive you for thinking that it sounds familiar to the rest of the two Impressions. If you haven’t, you should check them after reading this to get the idea of the complete picture that Asus is trying to present this year at Computex 2019. I would want to address this as it ties into what I think Asus VivoBook is meant to do.
The top of the line Asus ZenBook Duo Pro is all about the craziest that Asus can pull off and it actually has. Talking about the Asus ZenBook 2019 series, Asus is trying to rope in users who don’t really have the money for the ZenBook Duo series, but still want a capable system with a touch of future. This is the type of customer that is not really habitual to such fancy looking features but they won’t be surprised to get one standout feature on their new machine as the price point is still higher. However, such a feature on a considerable low-end device is a whole another ballgame.
Introduction of the ScreenPad 2.0 on the VivoBook series is as much a calculated move to make the technology and vision of the future of computing as it is betting on its innovation. In my limited time with the technology, I think I can be sure that this feature is not really a gimmick or something for show and it has some real uses for almost everyone out there. This will be great for people for are habitual of using two monitors and it will introduce a lot of new users with the concept of secondary displays. Using secondary displays is in itself a habit that once integrated, it hard to go back to the old ways of a single screen.
Talking about the screen itself, it is a secondary display that is integrated in the touchpad of the area, and Asus has improved the second generation in more meaningful was as compared to the first generation that it showcased last year. The second generation comes with better resolution (with an option to adjust it), more brightness, and better screen refresh rate with the option to crank it down. The new generation has also introduced battery saver mode for the ScreenPad to conserve as much power as possible. Similar to the ScreenPad 2.0 in the ZenBook lineup, Asus has added its ScreenXpert software along with the secondary screen. The software comes with native apps like ‘Handwriting’, ‘Quick Key’, ‘Slide Xpert’, ‘Doc Xpert’, ‘Sheet Xpert’, and ‘App Deals’ but it thankfully it is not locked to such apps and works as a traditional secondary display.
Asus VivoBook S14 design and dash of new Colors
The company has made some changes to the design of the laptop by introducing its new “ErgoLift” hinge design that lifts the keyboard by 3.5 degrees from the hinge area. This improves the typing experience on the laptop for the users. Beyond this, the laptop comes with thin bezels as part of its “NanoEdge” display and usual Asus design cues. However, one significant thing that I noticed was the increased number of color options for users.
As reported in the launch post, the company will offer the VivoBook laptops in five colors including Moss Green, Punk Pink, Cobalt Blue, Transparent Silver, and Gun Metal. Talking about the color, we can only see the color on the top side of the laptop, or rather the back side of the display instead of the whole laptop immersing in these colors. The company is calling this finish as “color-blocking” which looks different than the previous VivoBook laptops.
Refreshed internals on the Asus VivoBook S14
We have already covered the specifications of the laptop but to recap, the Asus VivoBook S14 sports a 14-inch LED-backlit panel with 16:9 aspect ratio, FHD resolution, with NanoEdge for narrow bezels. Buyers can get up to Intel Core i7-8565U processor with Quad-core CPU clocked at 1.8GHz and turbo speeds of up to 4.6GHz with Nvidia GeForce MX250 that features 2GB DDR5 VRAM. The ultra-portable laptop will be available in different storage and RAM combinations of up to 1TB PCIe SSD and up to 16GB LPDDR3 RAM.
Asus has also added Wi-Fi 6, along with Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, one USB Type-C 3.1 port with USB 3.1 Gen 2 protocol, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 with Type-A port, one USB 2.0 port, one HDMI slot, one combo audio socket, and a microSD card reader in terms of connectivity. The VivoBook S14 features a full-size keyboard with 1.4mm key travel, the integrated number pad on the keyboard (only available on Transparent Silver models), Windows Precision Touchpad and palm rejection.
Other features include Asus SonicMaster tech with surround sound and smart amplifier tech, Harman Kardon certified audio system, Asus Tru2Life Video, Asus AudioWizard, and Asus Splendid software features. It is powered by a 47Wh 2-cell lithium-polymer battery with support for the fast charge to up to 60 percent in 49 minutes.
Asus VivoBook S14 looks like a rare piece of technology where the company behind the new technology, in this case, Asus, is completely behind the vision that it has showcased to the world. There is no place for doubt or second guess here and the company has gone all out with three different product lineups with new technology in an attempt to push the envelope. VivoBook S14 along with the VivoBook S15 is meant to the masses and there does not seem to be much difference in the ScreenPad 2.0 that this lineup gets when compared to the ZenBook series.
The laptop and the ScreenPad technology really is impressive and surprisingly useful in my limited testing. But, we will have to wait for the complete review to give any verdict on the ScreenPad 2.0 technology and just wait for the market to respond to the inclusion of a secondary mini display on their laptop.