There has been quite a lot of speculation at this point from various technology websites and blogs. The guesses are coming fast and furious about the ScreenPad. Everyone seems stumped.
We have an updated opinion on what the ScreenPad is. Although we originally hoped this would be some type of stand alone accessory, we no longer have this belief.
We believe that the ScreenPad is a new style or “next generation” of touchpad. A touchpad really serves one purpose which is mouse movement and controls. The ScreenPad is going to add a new layer of functionality to the concept of a touchpad by providing a smartphone like display and smartphone like functionality.
So in the location of a traditional trackpad, we believe that will be the home for the new feature named “ScreenPad”.
It’s best to think of this as an embedded smartphone display in place of the touchpad. This is not far fetched because there have been a couple of prototype laptops which feature a smartphone dock where the touchpad traditionally goes. That docked smartphone then functions as the touchpad. Additionally, the Samsung Dex is an example of a smartphone being used as a touchpad.
So as you can see, the idea behind the ScreenPad is not far fetched at all. It has been implemented in a variety of ways, but in rather unconventional or unusual methods up until this point.
How will the ScreenPad work?
We believe that the ScreenPad touchpad will offer a swipe down functionality, just like is common on smartphones. A swipe down from the top of the touchpad (ScreenPad) will allow access to a quick launch menu. This would be a familiar usage for any smartphone user.
From what we’ve seen, a user can close out the ScreenPad display by touching the “X” in the top right corner or likely a swipe up will hide the ScreenPad display, and thus returning to traditional touchpad functionality.
So the issue that might arise with using the touchpad for navigation vs. using it for ScreenPad apps/functionality may be quite easily nullified. Using a mouse with a laptop eliminates confusion entirely.
It does appear that the ScreenPad can run independently of what is on the main display. This is a very compelling aspect of this technology. You can make use of a touchscreen display without altering what is going on with the main laptop display. This opens up a whole new level of multitasking, usability and multitasking. How about being able to read email on the ScreenPad while you are using the main display for watching a movie or creating a document or presentation?
ScreenPad will be a faster way to launch Windows apps. Rather than navigating with the touchpad and clicking though windows and menus, a swipe down on the ScreenPad and a quick touch of an icon on the display could launch whatever app you have chosen to appear in the quick launch menu. This seems to be a more efficient method.
So we see the ScreenPad as a marriage between smartphone touchscreen functionality and traditional touchpad functionality. With the ScreenPad likely having a FHD display, the details on smaller text should be excellent as you would expect from any smartphone display.
If we are correct, one shortcoming in this technology could be battery life. If the battery of a laptop is going to power a secondary display, albeit a small ScreenPad display, it’s still going to use more battery than a traditional touchpad.
Like the MacBook Touch Bar, it was greeted with a bit of skepticism from the tech community. ASUS is taking a leap here with the ScreenPad, hoping that providing a more familiar smartphone menu and control display will create some true added value. Breaking people out of that familiar usage of touchpad with left/right clicks is going to be a challenge. People will need to embrace the efficiency that ScreenPad offers but sometimes old habits are hard to break.