I think I just saw the most beautiful notebook at Computex this year. Although it went unannounced in ASUS' Computex 2013 press conference, the Zenbook Infinity garnered a lot of attention from behind its glass case. I managed to come across a fully functional system, equipped with 13.3-inch 2560 x 1440 capacitive touch IPS panel. The back of the display panel is actually covered with Gorilla Glass 3:

The Zenbook Infinity maintains ASUS' radial brushed finish, but thanks to the piece of Gorilla Glass 3 the feel is substantially improved. The combination of the metal and the glass cover results in an almost jewelry-like finish, which looks amazing in person. Photos really don't do this thing justice at all. I sincerely hope this marriage of Zenbook design and a glass finish is part of a new design direction for ASUS. If we had a best of show award, I'd totally give it to ASUS for the Zenbook Infinity.

Although it looked black at the press event, in person the Infinity actually has a blue finish to it. The keyboard and trackpad both felt great, as did the build quality of the prototype machine. The ASUS logo on the back uses the display's backlight for illumination.

The ultra high resolution panel would normally be a mixed blessing on a Windows notebook thanks to horrible DPI scaling in Windows 8 desktop mode, but I'm actually wondering if that's a problem Microsoft will address with Windows 8.1 later this year. Given the way the PC ecosystem works, I can't imagine notebook vendors and Intel putting this much effort into driving high DPI displays without proper support from Microsoft. We'll find out for certain shortly here, but I'm getting a good feeling that the solution to this problem may be close.

Internally, the Zenbook Infinity is also pretty cool. Unlike all other Haswell Ultrabooks we've seen, the ZBI is home to a 28W Haswell ULT: the Core i7-4558U. The dual-core part features Intel's Iris 5100 graphics (GT3 without Crystalwell) as well as a higher base CPU clock frequency. The result should be a very interesting combination of power efficiency and GPU performance on tap. ASUS seems to always pick the right parts to integrate into its mobile devices, and the i7-4558U is definitely an interesting one.

There's no word on when we can expect to see the Zenbook Infinity, but I'm getting the impression that many Haswell Ultrabooks are slated to arrive closer to the launch of Windows 8.1. Between the Zenbook Infinity and some of the other Haswell ULT designs I've played with at the show, I'm very excited about the state of Ultrabooks in the second half of the year.

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  • seapeople - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    In addition to using less battery life you get much faster hibernate times with 4GB RAM. And if you need more than 4GB then maybe an ultrabook isn't for you? Reply
  • JulesLandry - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    According to AsusFrance it will have 8GiB! https://twitter.com/AsusFrance/statuses/3430102136... Reply
  • Mumrik - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    But I don't want a laptop to look like jewelery. I want it to be understated, functional and well-made. Reply
  • xand - Saturday, June 08, 2013 - link

    Nicer than the Vaio Pro 13? Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Get rid of the gloss and touchscreen, make it 1680x1050 (get rid of the ASUS logo and fill that height!). I really don't care 1% about these insane res screens, I'd rather pay less and use Windows at 100% size. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, June 16, 2013 - link

    Can't wait for the 15 inch version with the gt 750m-gtx760m. It will totally be replacing my ux32vd Reply
  • JulesLandry - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Asus France confirmed on Twitter that this beauty will have 8 Gb of RAM!
    https://twitter.com/AsusFrance/statuses/3430102136...
    Reply
  • rareburgers - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    I own a zenbook prime because of the color gamut, and the IPS MATTE screen. Emphasis on MATTE.

    Glossy, touch screens are a nightmare for visual arts professionals, retouchers, etc. I'll pass on this one. Too much form over function in this society.
    Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    Form over function seems to be winning in every area at an alarming rate.

    I keep saying that form following function makes for more beautiful objects.

    Because when the form does not follow function, it is a lie for one thing and intrinsically inefficient for another, because things were added that are not necessary.

    There is plenty of room for designers who follow function, it is by no means a straight jacket squashing the freedom to design. Good designers relish working with this constraint, it is the path toward perfection and even just traversing a short way on that path is rewarding for designers and users.

    In regards to your specific complaint, it is Intel's fault, as they have made a touch display mandatory to be able to carry the name "Ultrabook". I find that to be a mistake, especially after its taken so many years to get a fair number of manufacturers to offer non-reflective displays.
    Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    2 points:

    1) Microsoft can't "fix the dpi scaling problems". Windows itself already scales just fine. The problem was caused by developer tools failing to prod software developers to make their individual applications scale well. So, while even Windows 7 scales just fine on an 1800p display, a lot of applications don't.

    2) The release schedule of Haswell systems has less to do with Windows 8.1 release than it does with Intel being forced into a staggered release, due to having to work out the USB 3.0 bug. No doubt, Intel is readying those chips first they are most eager to sell, apparently the cheaper to make HD-4x00 based models. So sadly, we have to wait for IRIS based Ultrabooks till Intel engineers verified and tested the USB fix on each CPU line.
    Reply

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