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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  • GTRagnarok - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Looks very nice, but Asus needs to do like Samsung and make the bezels much smaller. Reply
  • Check101 - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Please Please Please Please Please ASUS... Please offer this with the same resolution IPS Matte display... or just give me a matte display option.

    I am a proud owner of a Zenbook Prime UX31A, and the screen is the whole reason I bought it 8 months ago. (Although I love the speakers as well...)

    I don't want a touch panel. I'll live with a non-touch Windows 8 and learn keyboard and mouse shortcuts. I don't want a glossy display. I may take a glossy display if reports say it is not as reflective as normal. But I will be one of the first customers if the screen in this product line stays the best of the best.

    Pretty much the only products keeping me from recommending a Mac (hardware wise) as a better experience are the Razer Blade or the Zenbook... I hope it stays that way...
    Reply
  • boeush - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    THIS is what passes for "most beautiful notebook"?? [note the word 'notebook', no 'ultrabook'] (I'm starting to wonder, whether Anand might be on ASUS' payroll...) Personally, I see a lot of flaws, for a notebook design. Here's three observations just about the screen alone:

    First, not sure what the point is of that lower screen edge propping up that end of the laptop higher. Ergonomics dictate that the keyboard should slope away from the arm, that is down, not up.

    Second, what's the point of that huge resolution in a 13.3 inch display? This isn't a smartphone, nor is this a tablet. Nobody is going to hold that screen 5 inches in front of their nose. On a screen this size and intended for this form factor, the ultra-high resolution is a waste of money, battery power, and CPU/GPU cycles. Maybe on a 17 inch screen it would make more sense, but even there I'm doubtful.

    Lastly, what's with the enormous bezel around the screen? Is that considered either "beautiful" or in any way useful, these days? I'd rather have edge-to-edge screen, to maximize use of available real estate. The huge bezel would only make sense if the screen were detachable for use as a stand-alone tablet...

    Now, as far as general notebook design goes: with a 28 W CPU (never mind the rest of the system/display power budget), and ultra-thin form factor, what's the expected battery life on this thing? (I very much doubt there's any room for even a 90 Wh battery in that package...) Wouldn't be much point in an "ultra-portable" that can't last longer than a couple of hours off the mains. Personally, I'd rather have it twice as thick and heavy, but last 3x as long on battery...
    Reply
  • seapeople - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    I've said this for years now: Give me the ULV parts and state of the art power saving technology in the same footprint as of old, and fill the rest with battery. Then you have a machine that can get real work done, handle the occasional game, and give you 15+ hour battery life when you need it.

    The response I always get to this is "6 hours is all you need to get through an 8 hour day anyway". SMH.
    Reply
  • nehway0912 - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    So ASUS is using panels from Sharp for this one it seems (based on the display code). I wonder if this is using IGZO technology or just normal LTPS one. Reply
  • WestHej - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    When the leap motion is integrated (they have a partnership with ASUS I believe), then I guess they can ditch the glossy screen. This would make the perfect portable notebook for me! Reply
  • cditty - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    I will buy this as soon as it comes out. This looks like exactly what I have been waiting for. I have been hanging with my Macbook Pro (running Windows, as that is where all my work apps are). I had committed to not upgrade until Haswell (for the battery). This is a gorgeous laptop. Reply
  • peterfares - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    4GB RAM? Are you fucking kidding me? Reply
  • Zeratul56 - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Do you need much more than that? My 8 gig win 8 laptop is only using 1.4 right now. Adding more ram uses more battery life. This is not a high voltage part nor is it equipped with a discrete GPU so adding more memory would not be incredibly useful. You would be wasting battery life more often than you would ever use more than 4 gigs.

    There are plenty of laptops with more RAM available, this one is designed to be ultra portable not ultra high performance.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    Yes, you do need more than 4GiB. Especially since it has an integrated GPU that doesn't suck - it'll be chewing on system RAM for GPU use. 4GiB is pitiful. Reply

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