Every day I see people in and out of the office. How can you spot someone that works at ASUS? I would say if they are genuine, active, and full of creativity, it is likely they are at ASUS.
These sorts of character traits are reflected in our 30 years of ASUS design. ASUS has a strong history of being innovative in design and production. Each year we have a breakthrough in some parts of the industry. Each year we set new trends. ASUS always comes out on top leading in this manner. In the past ten years, producing and consuming electronics has changed drastically. Hardware has taken a back seat to software solutions. ASUS adapted to this change and started to think from the new generation’s point of view. The outcome of this initiative? The Zenbook Pro Duo.
Today I am joined by three very talented designers who all worked on the Zenbook Pro Duo. Due to geographic restrictions, these three designers are only able to meet in person once per year. So I am lucky they spared me some of their limited time to talk about their collaboration on the Zenbook Pro Duo.
Hsi: What was the jump-off point for the Pro Duo?
Loewy: We’ve always had the goal to build a multiscreen notebook.
Wecan: The past products we design also try to incorporate screen innovation, such as the PadFone, Transformer, and TAICHI.
PadFone, Transformer, TAICHI, and ZenBook Pro with ScreenPad 2.0
Wecan: Multiscreen devices offer greater productivity. These devices require a lot of consideration for the hardware. But the software is truly the crucial part to make it all work.
Loi: Technology is evolving so fast and people are becoming more familiar with multitasking. In the workplace, it is pretty common to see people using dual or multi-monitor setups. The Zenbook Pro Duo was made as an answer to the different types of user’s needs.
Hsi: During your research, you learned a lot about different types of multi-taskers. Can you elaborate on your findings?
Loi: Before we start designing, we do a full year of global research to understand our target audience. In this case, it was multi-taskers. We wanted to see how they live, what they do, and where they work. We found four main needs from our survey of users: efficiency, screen real estate, portability, and convenience. We used actual models and sketches to initiate the conversation with users. We took first-hand feedback from the users and internalized it. Sharing it with the rest of our design team is an integral part of the process.
ZenBook Pro Duo user resarch and creative process
Hsi: One of your testers is a videographer. From what I understand, he needed to use this laptop in almost any type of environment, sometimes laying on his stomach in a cramped space. These are the sort of scenarios you need to accommodate? It seems very niche.
Loi: We have a good relationship with the testers. This helps us better understand their difficulties and we can communicate with them directly. His scenario may seem niche, but it is very valuable in helping us improve our design.
Different users have different needs, but users in the same category almost always have the same types of needs. So if just one person has a particular need, you can bet there are many other users out there who also face the same problems.
Hsi: What are the key design points for the ID and UX?
Wecan: After digesting our research and fully understanding the needs of users, we start the design process. Of course, we consider the structure of the device, then share potential design issues to solve them together.
Loewy: One big one was getting windows to drag from screen to screen, making a seamless experience. Many times when moving windows across screens it feels strange or like there is a roadblock in the way. You need to try a few times before it works the way you want it to. We fixed that on the Zenbook Pro Duo.
Hsi: I got to use this device for a couple of weeks and I found the second screen to be indispensible. It was a hard transition back to my regular laptop. I thought the new keyboard and touchpad layout would affect my typing experience, but it improved it. Not to mention it looked visually balanced.
Loewy: Once the ScreenPad Plus and keyboard position was fixed, we added an optional palm rest for users that need a bit more stability.
Loi: Once we added the second screen, a lot of options opened up:
1) More windows can be opened at the same time.
2) Touchscreens are more intuitive and easy to use. This is taken into consideration when designing.
3) Shortcut keys are also crucial for multitasking users.
Again, the fast evolution of technology affects the user’s behaviors as well. This all needs to be considered and accommodated for by the software. In the end, we build up solutions by being proactive and providing new experiences.
Hsi: The ZenBook Pro Duo’s shape and color are very nice. What was the reason for these design choices?
Loewy: Dual screens are an innovation we are very proud of. We had the opportunity to present this new technology to the public, so we wanted it to have an advanced and unique style with a good touch and feel.
Wecan: The ZenBook Pro Duo is all aluminum and the lid’s profile has some very detailed but simple linear elements.
The laptop features ErgoLift, propping up the device when the lid is opened. It allows for the device to be held in one arm when standing. It also increases airflow allowing for better heat dissipation.
Loewy: With the ZenBook Pro Duo we wanted to deliver a futuristic feeling. We offset the spun-metal finish to emphasize the revolutionary nature of the product. The color is called Celestial Blue, it conveys a sense of mystery while remaining elegant.
Wecan: Even the bottom part of the devices was nicely designed. People don’t usually pay attention to that area, but we went all out: the head dissipation holes and leather create a nice contrast with an amazing tactile feel. There are some other nice details too. Your readers will have to check it out.
Hsi: For the Pro Duo exhibition in Taipei, they created an exploded view of the Pro Duo to show the hardware and engineering of the laptop.
If you get the opportunity, you must experience first hand the ZenBook Pro Duo.