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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  • MartinT - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    So I guess Intel thoroughly broke notebook ergonomics by mandating touchscreens (and hence reflective surfaces) on Haswell Ultrabooks.

    This is just sad, Asus was doing so well with their matte Zenbook Primes.
  • redmist77 - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    Bring it on. Matte screens look horrible.
  • Inteli - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    I feel the exact opposite. I love matte screens and hate glossy.
  • eallan - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    I used to agree and was a die-hard matte fan. Owning a rMBP completely changed my POV though. I still hate those glass covered double-glarey old MBP style displays though, but I'm done with grainy matte.
  • DERSS - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Matter screen dissipate all of the incoming lights that fall onto the screen equally in all directions, and this is why you do not see strong mirror effect there.

    However, along with this process, matte screens kill blacks and wash out colours *everywhere*, *all the time*, *at all angles*. Glossy screens reflect incoming light to a certain point and you can almost always find an angle so you would not see reflections, but rather high-contrast, deep black picture.

    Glossy screens are the only choice for people who work with colour, by the way, as this is the only variant how you can get accurate colours.
  • rareburgers - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    This is insanely misinformed. Working professionals need matte screens for accurate colors. Glossy screens are NOT the choice for people who work with color. Do you know anything about retouching, photography, graphic design? Glossy is terrible, it puts strain on the eyes and distorts images and there are constant reflection issues to deal with. I'm really floored that you would put such a ridiculous piece of misinformation on the internet, you might as well have said t he sun revolves around the earth.
  • blearghhh - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    I used to to graphics and retouching. And pretty much everyone who did that kind of stuff worked with the lights out specifically for that reason. That was back in the days of CRT screens, which were of course glossy. The really good retouchers had their own specially darkened offices to do that kind of work.

    Of course, it's all kind of moot in this discussion since nobody who is actually a serious professional retoucher at the level that it matters about all that kind of stuff is going to be doing it on a 13" laptop.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    Really? I guess your memory is a little hazy because I recall people using CRTs with diffusing coating or light filters for image editing on CRTs.

    Also, high-end monitors E.G. Dell UltraSharps. are always matte. Maybe they do things differently in your country (where ever that is).
  • pixelstuff - Saturday, August 3, 2013 - link

    I'm pretty sure there's not a single high end desktop display (those in the $1,000 and up range) with a glossy screen.
  • JPForums - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    I've always found matte to look better, especially outside.
    Glossy is only tolerable to me when I can setup in a location that prevents all of the reflections.

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