What kind of sick freak needs this gaming laptop's massive, tilting Touch Bar?

Me. I am the freak who needs it.

When the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo was announced in the fall of last year, people were both skeptical and intrigued by its dual-screen form factor. Asus moved the keyboard down and used the remaining space at the top to add a second 4K display. YouTubers and creative types were drawn to it because it provided real utility: you could, for example, move an Adobe Premiere timeline down into that window, or keep Slack there, leaving your main screen free for whatever work you’re doing.

The only problem was that you needed to sort of lean over the keyboard deck to really see this second display. Now, just a handful of months later, Asus has announced a follow-up called the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, and it is even crazier than the original. Naturally Asus has bumped the specs a bit: it now features Intel’s 10th generation CPUs and Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Super, but the real star of the show is what Asus is calling the ROG ScreenPad.

The ScreenPad is a 14.1-inch UHD touchscreen display, but this time when you open the Zephyrus Duo 15, the ScreenPad mechanically lifts 13 degrees to make it easier to see. This is exactly what the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo needed, and it’s great to see Asus taking consumer feedback and iterating its design so quickly.

Speaking of design, Asus gave the Zephyrus Duo 15 a very professional look (for a gaming laptop.) There aren’t any brightly colored accents or flashing lights: the functional design might be eye catching, but the trim is quite muted. And that’s what’s interesting about what Asus is doing here: they’re essentially using gaming laptop parts to make a mobile workstation-adjacent laptop like Lenovo’s Thinkpad P1 Gen 2 or Dell’s Precision series, but flipping the form factor on its head. And as someone who was actually considering buying the Zenbook Pro Duo (last year’s model) as a main work computer, this combination of very high-end consumer parts, an innovating form factor, and a professional industrial design has me wondering if the Razer Blade Stealth GTX I ended up getting was really the right choice.

Asus states in its press release that we should expect the Zephyrus Duo 15 in late Q2 of this year, presumably because of manufacturing issues related to the ongoing pandemic. A price hasn’t yet been provided, but considering the Zenbook Pro Duo lists for around $2,499, I would expect the new Zephyrus Duo 15 to arrive with a similarly premium price.