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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  • peterfares - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    My Lenovo X230 tablet, Dell XT3 tablet, and HP EliteBook 2740p tablet all have matte glass touchscreens. Reply
  • whyso - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Matte coating gets worn away when you touch it constantly. Reply
  • Sufo - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    yeah, perhaps the real solution is a very finely sandblasted glass layer, or one of those halfway house matte/gloss coatings Reply
  • OoklaTheMok - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    The Lenovo X1 Carbon has a matte touchscreen Reply
  • mikeymop - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    I dont think I've ever seen a capacitive plastic touchscreen. I'm convinced you need the glass to conduct your fingers. Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    No one is forcing ASUS to put in a touchscreen into this laptop, however they won't be able to call it an Ultrabook and they get no co-marketing money from Intel. Reply
  • zoxo - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Reflective screen is not a requirement for touch... at all. Matte works perfectly fine. Hell I had a notebook in 2004 that had an active digitizer and was matte. You can even buy matte screen protector films for touch phones without affecting touch functionality the slightest. Reply
  • deeps6x - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    You are so very right MartinT. Screw you Intel and your useless touchscreen mandate. I frickin' hate glossy coatings on laptops. Matte rules. Matte makes sense. Matte isn't annoying.

    Everyone from Intel should be FORCED to use the touchscreen and have their touchpad removed.
    Reply
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    I wonder how much Microsoft paid Intel to cram that mandate in there. Reply
  • Homeles - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    I think the matte vs. glossy war ended over 6 years ago. Someone's bitter.

    I almost guarantee that the Haswell Zenbook line would have featured touchscreens regardless of Intel's requirements.
    Reply

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