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Asus ZenBook Pro Duo reimagines dual screens

Asus’s ZenBook Pro Duo implements the dual-screen concept very differently: instead of side-by-side, the extra screen sits beneath the main screen. BRYAN TURNER tried out the laptop.

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Asus’s strong ZenBook line, aimed at creatives, has added a powerful laptop to the game: the dual-screen ZenBook Pro Duo. This machine shows some of the most thoughtful design on the market, including a new type of dual-screen layout that makes a lot of sense. 

When closed it looks like any other laptop and has a concentric circle design etched into aluminium. The laptop feels sturdy on the base as well as the screen, and looks like it could withstand a drop. It’s 24mm thick and weighs around 2.5kg, so it seems pretty thick until one looks at the internals of this machine. 

We had the Intel Core i7-9750H processor configuration but can come with an Intel Core i9-9980HK configuration. Both configurations come with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM. This makes this laptop more of a high-performance desktop with laptop features rather than a high-performance laptop. 

When opening up this computer, we were greeted with a large 15.6” 4K (3840×2160) OLED panel and another 14” (3840 x 1100) 4K UHD display below that, called the ScreenPad Plus. Both screens are touchscreens, 100% DCI-P3, and are brighter than most laptops. As a result, the keyboard and trackpad have been shifted below the second screen. The lowered keyboard takes some getting used to, but is totally worth it for the second display.

The ScreenPad Plus comes with a set of its own apps, including Spotify, handwriting mode, and a few other quick settings. It comes with a stylus called the Asus Pen, which allows for 1024 pressure levels and rejects one’s palm, making it very useful for apps like Adobe Illustrator. The top screen supports that pen too, but writing feels far more natural on the ScreenPad Plus.

An ErgoLift hinge raises the computer up at an angle, to make the lowered keyboard more comfortable to type on, as well as aid the cooling system. It’s at a small 4.5 degrees tilt with this hinge that makes a huge difference in typing comfort.

On the left side, a USB-A port, a regular size HDMI 2.0 port and a proprietary charging jack. On the right side, it features a USB-A 3.1 port, Thunderbolt 3, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Both sides feature air outlet ports. 

We tested Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p, with the RTX 2060, and set the game to its highest preset graphics settings. The game’s frame counter was used. It hovered between 70 and 75 frames per second (fps) with 10 minutes of gameplay, which is really good compared to most desktop computers. 

The processor is a 6-Core 9th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU (i7-9750H), which provides snappy performance. We noted a start-up time from shutdown to desktop around 7 seconds. This was made possible by a combination of the fast processor and solid-state drive in the computer. This also makes opening programmes lightning fast.

Now for the trackpad. The off-centre trackpad placement feels a bit weird, even though we know why it’s placed that way. We found ourselves using an external mouse and using it in a very handy NumPad mode. The trackpad is extremely precise otherwise. 

The laptop’s battery is 71 Wh, which may seem large, but it needs to power two big screens and heavy processors. As a result, it’s difficult to get more than 6 hours of productivity out of the machine. We played Rise of the Tomb Raider with both screens on for about 1 hour before we needed to charge it. 

It will be available for about R48,000 (depending on when one buys it) in the Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM configuration, putting it up there with the high-performance laptops in terms of price.

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Leak reveals Huawei P40 Pro

A high-resolution render of the Huawei P40 Pro, released by Evan ‘Evleaks’ Blass, shows that it will probably include five rear lenses, two front lenses, and a ceramic build. BRYAN TURNER investigates

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The highly-anticipated Huawei P40 Pro is set to be unveiled in Paris in late-March. Many rumours surround its hardware build as well as its software capabilities since Huawei lost the rights to preload Google Apps on the phone.

From the leak, it seems the P40 Pro will feature a near-bezelless screen, like the Mate 30 Pro, which debuted late last year. The screen drops the notch, in favour of a dual-camera cut-out, similar to the Samsung Note 10+. The leak also shows there are small buttons on the side of the device for volume control and locking the device. This is an interesting step back from the buttonless Mate 30 Pro.

The most impressive aspect is the seven cameras which this device will house, five on the back and two on the front. The rear camera system seems to showcase a slight bump, and features a new type of periscope-style telephoto camera. This is expected to provide an 18-240mm equivalence between ultrawide and telephoto. The device is also expected to provide a whopping 13x optical zoom, thanks to the periscope camera.

The build is expected to be glass on the front and back, both of which are curved for ergonomics. From the render, it showcases classy design using ceramics. On the bottom, there’s a USB Type-C port with a speaker grill. And there’s no surprises about the absence of a headphone jack, which hasn’t featured for a while now.

The only real question-mark hanging over this device is: what about Google apps? Huawei is currently touring Europe, showing off the power its smartphones still have without having Google apps installed. Hopefully, they will fill that education gap before the release date of the P40 Pro, less than two months away.

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Canon announces Robotic Camera System

True remote control photography is now possible, thanks to a Canon Robotic Camera System called the CR-S700R.

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Canon has announced a remote control system for still image shooting, to be available in February 2020. Sports photography and news media use remote photography extensively to capture still images from various viewpoints or angles that cannot be achieved with conventional photography methods. The Robotic Camera System CR-S700R is a release driven by the needs of professional photographers to operate cameras remotely for still images.

The system revolves around a remote pan head that can be used to remotely control and shoot still images using an EOS camera. The system includes a small and lightweight gateway box, an IP camera controller called the CR-G100.

The Camera Remote Application CR-A100 (not included in the package) enables users to control multiple cameras from a PC, display live view images, and remotely trigger a camera or simultaneously shoot with multiple cameras.

The remote pan head uses a centre-type rotational axis that makes the optical axis of the camera perpendicular to the rotational axis of the remote pan head, enabling smooth remote operations like zooming, panning, tilting, and rolling. Ideally suited to follow subjects that move at high speed during sporting events, the remote pan head benefits from a compact design with a turning radius of approximately 260mm, and can be used upright or underslung.

The IP camera controller CR-G100 is a gateway device to connect the camera and the remote pan head. It connects to a PC for remote operation using a wired LAN (Ethernet) cable. The extremely compact and lightweight design has been developed specifically for still image shooting. Various terminals (digital terminal, Ethernet terminal, remote control terminal, among others) necessary for connecting to cameras and pan heads are grouped together to organise previously complicated and bulky wired connection.

The Camera Remote Application CR-A100 software controls the Robotic Camera System CR-S700R and cameras via a PC. It displays live view images from multiple cameras using the IP camera controller CR-G100 and can control a single camera or simultaneous shoot using multiple specified cameras, streamlining the workflow of still image shooting at the news site.

The Robotic Camera System CR-S700R and the Camera Remote Application CR-A100 will be available from mid-February 2020.

For more information and details on product specifications, visit: https://www.canon-europe.com/pro/remote_ptz/CR-S700R

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