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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  • jabber - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Yes hopefully this will start a trend from all the makers to pull their fingers out and start actually making properly and attractively designed products that people will actually want to part money with.

    The Likes of Acer/Toshiba/Lenovo/Fujitsu etc. have all got very lazy in all their product ranges except for the odd top of the range limited edition boutique edition.

    The mainstream designs need a firm kick up the backside.

    Maybe Anand should do an expose on these manufacturers bottom of the range laptops, the kind they sell a lot off in the megastores. Some of them like Toshiba are truly shocking quality.

    Not to mention the bloatware.
    Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    When you're making a computer for $450, why bother. The margins are too thin on that computer to make anything worthwhile. Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    There are some reasonably-priced reasonable looking laptops around if you look. The ASUS S line for example. If people stopped buying the garbage ones they would stop making them. Reply
  • seapeople - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Agreed. I still don't understand why people are so weird about screens though. Just recently someone asked me if there's anything they should look for when they buy a new laptop, and the conversation went something like:

    Me: "Well, you liked your new Ipad display, and complimented your work laptop screen due to it's upgraded resolution. So I suggest looking for an upgraded IPS and higher resolution screen."

    Them: "No, I don't care about anything like that."

    Me: "But you specifically told me that your new work laptop screen looks nicer than your last one and you can get more done on it. The screen is why."

    Them: *Eyes glaze over* "Maybe that's important for you, don't see why I would need to pay money on the screen."
    Reply
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    "Maybe Anand should do an expose on these manufacturers bottom of the range laptops, the kind they sell a lot off in the megastores. Some of them like Toshiba are truly shocking quality."

    Seconded. I want to see a review of craptops!
    Reply
  • Kepe - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Thirded!(?) I want to see that too. Get the cheapest laptops from all makers you can and see how they're built. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Strangely I want to see that too. Fourth'ed. I wonder if any 400 dollar Wal-Mart specials are actually decent devices. Reply
  • Old_ITGuy - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    I would like to see that review also. The question management asks constantly is "why should I pay $1,200.00 when I can go to <local computer superstore> and get one for $450.00. And then the technical explanation puts them to sleep in 3 milliseconds. These craptops are only very rarely properly reviewed. I do understand that you only have so much time and resources for reviews and you like to review devices that are promising, but it is helpful to see what the shortcomings of these devices really are. This type of review would help people to make informed decisions about exactly where on the price/performance/features curve they want to buy. Reply
  • pixelstuff - Saturday, August 03, 2013 - link

    Sixthed.

    I need more ammo for arguments around why buy a $1,200 laptop instead of the $450 one. And when the argument fails I would like to know the very best of the $450 category to recommend as a the only option.
    Reply
  • Homeles - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Laptop aesthetic quality has been going up considerably since Intel's ultrabook initiative began. Reply

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