Ultrabooks got off to a very rough start. The initial designs failed to impress, but the second generation based on Ivy Bridge seem to be a lot better. We noticed significant improvement in our review of the ultra high-resolution Zenbook Prime, but there's a new problem: Windows 8 is due out before the end of the year, and it will definitely work best with touch enabled tablet/hybrid-notebook solutions.

In anticipation of Windows 8, ASUS announced its Tablet series as well as the Ivy Bridge based Transformer Book. The Zenbook Prime isn't going to be left behind however, as ASUS introduced a touch enabled version of the 11-inch Zenbook Prime (UX21A) at Computex. 
The specs are identical to the UX21A we previewed last month, just with a 10-finger touch enabled display. It's also nice to see that the poorly animated brightness controls from the Windows 7 software build are now gone and replaced with native looking widgets in Windows 8. These touches are really non-negotiable in the battle to keep users from migrating to Apple.

Availability of the Touch Enabled Zenbook Prime (and other ASUS Windows 8 systems) be timed to coincide with the Windows 8 launch, which at this point is expected to be sometime in late Q3 or early Q4. 

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  • vectorm12 - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    Manufacturers as well as Microsoft really need to wake up and smell what they are shoveling.

    Who in their right mind would want to use a touchenabled laptop in this form?

    Despite Microsoft's apparent disregard for efficient interaction with a traditional computer I can't think of a single situation where having a touchscreen on a standard notebook would be a good idea from a usage point of view.

    Given the technical merits of Windows 8 there's not a whole lot of reasons to upgrade from Windows 7 either. All in all I think Microsoft are forgetting what got them to where they are in the first place.
  • DV8_MKD - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    You have obviously never tried a touch enabled laptop. Since i got my Asus Transformer with the keyboard dock i can't go back. I'm not talking about the OS here, but when i try to use my old Win 7 laptop i keep trying to touch the screen. I can't wait to try Win 8 on a tablet/laptop.
  • Impulses - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    I have a TF too and the only reason I reach across to the display when it's docked are because Android lends itself better to touch input or the touch pad is annoying me... When I have a mouse hooked up and the tablet docked (rare at home but more common on the road) I never really reach for the screen.
  • r3loaded - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    The idea is not that you use touch constantly as you would on a tablet, but use it in tandem with your existing keyboard and mouse.

    Since I installed Windows 8 on my computers, there have been several times where I've instinctively reached for the screen instead of mousing to the control simply because it seems so natural to do so. You soon automatically start using the input device that is most appropriate for the scenario.
  • This Guy - Friday, June 8, 2012 - link

    I have a win 7 convertable and I wont buy another laptop without a touch screen now. Yes it has it's flaws, but it works just like I thought a computer should work 15 years ago when I first used one.
  • karlostomy - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    Anand, not sure I agree with some of your comments in this article.

    Here's a sample:
    "Ultrabooks got off to a very rough start. The initial designs failed to impress"

    Not sure I agree. While sales could have been better for SB Ultrabooks, it's not like they were bad, at all. Dell reports that their UB sales were actually better than expected.
    Initial UB designs were pretty good, except for screen resolution.
    That much is certain.

    Here's another gem:
    "These touches are really non-negotiable in the battle to keep users from migrating to Apple."

    Not sure I agree with that either. In the recent March quarter, Apple has posted declining PC/tablet growth figures - ceding the crown of PC share market leader to HP.

    I do agree Apple makes some nice looking and well engineered products.
    However, I value your site as providing objective and impartial reading.

    Why contaminate that with seemingly unnecessary Mac fan rhetoric?
  • Impulses - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    You know, I usually think this sort of complaint on AT is baseless, but here I agree. We're talking about a laptop with a touch screen, until Apple puts out a similar device I don't think there's any basis to bring them into the conversation.

    Honestly, half of these new Win 8 devices are completely new form factors that go way beyond what Apple's doing right now... The rhetoric just goes a little too far here, maybe Anand is TOO submerged in the Apple ecosystem and it's time to come up for air (no pun intended).

    I agree that Win RT devices, tablets specifically, should be compared straight up against Apple (and Android) devices... Anything else that breaks the mold and works off some hybrid concept with Win 8 is in it's own category and absolutely nobody is gonna be cross shopping it vs an iPad or an Air (particularly if we're talking x86 hardware).
  • Conficio - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    I hope a lifetime supply of gloves and a convenient compartment for those (in the laptop) is included in the package.

    I clean my screen at least once a week w/o touching it. I can't see myself dirtying it with my greasy fingers so I need to clean it every ten minutes. ;-)

    I guess the next patent that deserves my royalty payments is one that makes a surface repellent of all we carry on our fingers.
  • Impulses - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    Yeah I'm not sure I really see the point of this... In models that unhook from the keyboard and convert to a tablet it's obviously a boon, but on a traditional laptop it just seems gimmicky.

    Some of the replies above mention using the touch screen on a docked Transformer... I have one too, and the only reasons I do that are because Android just lends itself better to touch input or the smallish touchpad on the keyboard dock is annoying me... When I have a mouse hooked up I NEVER reach up and touch the tablet (while docked).

    I guess if the added cost is under $100 they might as well pitch it and see what the market says, that seems to be ASUS approach to every new form factor, but I just don't see the benefit.

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