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Asus VivoBook S15 hands-on review: Value VivoBooks now have touchscreen touchpads

VivoBook, the affordable alternative to the ZenBook line, now boasts Asus' ScreenPad 2.0 technology

Taiwan-based Asus got Computex 2019 off to a great start with over a dozen product announcements. The headline-grabber is definitely the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, a premium laptop that boasts not one but two 4K touchscreens. That’s not to say that its cheaper laptops aren’t of interest, though. For those on a budget, the 2019 Asus VivoBook S range is the one to watch.

I’ve had hands-on time with the new VivoBooks here at Computex in Taipei, and it’s great to see premium features such as the ScreenPad trickling down from the ZenBook Pro to the ZenBook and affordable VivoBook ranges. To get the full lowdown on the ScreenPad 2.0, plus the specifications and release date of the VivoBook S15, keep on reading.

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Asus VivoBook S15 review: Key specifications, price and release date

  • 15.6in LED-backlit 1,920 x 1,080 (FHD) display
  • 5.65in 2,160 x 1,080 (FHD+) IPS ScreenPad 2.0 display
  • Up to Intel Core i7-8565U CPU
  • Up to 16GB of RAM
  • Up to 1TB PCI-E SSD
  • Up to Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU
  • 42Wh 3-cell battery
  • Up to 802.11ax Intel Wi-Fi 6 (GIG+)
  • 357.2 x 230.3 x 18mm (WDH)
  • 1.8kg
  • UK price: TBC
  • UK release: June 2019

Asus VivoBook S15 review: Design, key features and first impressions

The 2019 VivoBook range has been pitched as the “youthful and stylish” alternative to the ZenBook. VivoBooks are also the more affordable of the two lines, due to the use of cheaper design materials and internal components. They aren’t as elegant or powerful as ZenBooks, but do offer a nice compromise for those with sub-£1,000 budgets.

The new Asus VivoBook S15 is a perfect example. It’s a tad chunkier than the latest ZenBook 15 (also unveiled at Computex 2019), but it still has some formidable internals and, like all the new ZenBooks, has been equipped with a ScreenPad 2.0 touchpad.

It has a 15.6in FHD display, and can be fitted with up to an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU backed by 16GB of RAM and dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics. It’s a potent setup that should appeal to content creators and casual gamers alike. There will also be a ZenBook S14 available with a very similar specification. Asus offers the VivoBook S15 in five “unconventional” colour finishes that are meant to appeal to young, hip consumers: “Moss Green”, “Punk Pink”, “Cobalt Blue”, “Transparent Silver” and “Gun Metal”.

The most significant design change this year is the ScreenPad 2.0. Put simply, ScreenPad 2.0 is a smartphone-sized 5.65in IPS touchscreen that doubles up as the laptop’s touchpad, and it can be used as a secondary display. For example, you can use it as a mini Spotify window, scroll through apps, or perhaps play a discreet game of Candy Crush Saga in the workplace.

Experimenting with the VivoBook S15 at Asus’ Computex Media event, I found the ScreenPad 2.0 to be rather fiddly, just as I did with the original ScreenPad seen on the 2018 ZenBook Pro. If, like me, you find the ScreenPad 2.0 isn’t to your liking, you can always disable it with a quick press of the F6 key. Asus has also made a 14in 4K ScreenPad Plus, which can be found Asus ZenBook Pro Duo I mentioned earlier. While the ScreenPad feels like a gimmick, the ScreenPad Plus feels like it has a lot of potential, especially for creatives.

Asus has been pretty generous with connectivity on the VivoBook S15. On the right edge is a proprietary power port, full-sized HDMI input, USB Type-A port, USB Type-C 3.1 port and a headphone/mic combined audio jack. Over on the left, you have two more USB Type-A ports and a microSD card reader. For a portable, affordable notebook like the Asus VivoBook S15, that’s just about perfect.

Asus VivoBook S15 review: Early verdict

While far from the showiest of Asus’ new products, the VivoBook S15 is still an appealing laptop that offers plenty of power in a portable, colourful package. The addition of ScreenPad 2.0 is a nice touch, even if I don’t necessarily get on with the feature.

Asus has not confirmed pricing details yet but has said that the VivoBook S15 and S14 will come to the UK at some point in mid-June of this year. So, once Computex 2019 is over, you’ll only need to wait a couple of weeks to get your hands on one.