[Update] What is the ASUS ScreenPad?

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”.

Is this similar to how the ScreenPad will be implemented?

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.



Is the ScreenPad a touchpad replacement?

There is additional speculation right now regarding what the ScreenPad is.

One particular suggestion is that the ScreenPad screen could fill in the touchpad location. So instead of the touchpad, the ScreenPad could potentially takes its place as sort of a dual role feature.

Does this seem plausible?

People have mentioned the Macbook Pro Touch Bar and whether the ScreenPad is a variant of that type of feature. In terms of enhancing the user experience, the Touch Bar is along the similar lines but clearly the ScreenPad is a more substantial or prominent feature or accessory. The Touch Bar is a strip and the ScreenPad is a secondary screen.

If the ScreenPad is plopped in the place of a touchpad, would this create some usability issues? Afterall, the current touchpads offer gesture support. However if a mouse is being used, then a touchpad has no purpose and in that situation, the ScreenPad would be an extremely logical use of the touchpad space.

If you take a logical look at this, having to use a touchpad for navigating and interacting with your laptop means there is very little room (figuratively speaking) for throwing in an entirely different feature into the mix. Would switching between using the touchpad as a touchpad and going into a “ScreenPad” mode be a hassle? Seems like that dual use would cause some headaches.

Here is an interesting quote from the ScreenPad Calculator app description:

User could conveniently do some basic calculation via it on the ScreenPad when the system panel is showing another full-screen application.

So when reading that description, it says “system panel”. As in, laptops display? When they refer to a full-screen application, that would suggest that if you were playing a full-screen movie or working in Microsoft Office, you could simultaneously use the ScreenPad functionality for a completely unrelated task. So like using the Calculator app in this example. But even with this description, it certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility that the ScreenPad is a stand alone accessory.

Then there is the question of space or size. Let’s look at the most current touchpad as found on the ZenBook 13 which is a 13-inch laptop.

Of the ScreenPad app screenshots on the Microsoft App store, the aspect ratio is interesting:

Just on a very superficial and unscientific perspective, the ScreenPad screenshot seems much more panoramic. Sure, ASUS could redesign the size and aspect ratio of the current touchpads on their laptops but that seems like a major redesign and would that cause potential accidental touchpad presses via palms if the touchpad was in fact stretched out in a more panoramic nature? Touchpads have evolved over time and they have been a certain size and location for good reason.

Additionally, what about the left and right clicks of the touchpad? Typically the lower left/right areas of the touchpad is for “clicking”. So would this limit the size of the ScreenPad screen because it has to stay clear of the lower portions of the touchpad?

Let’s not overlook the rounded edged of the touchpad. Certainly those could be changed in design, but should they be rounded, that reduces space for the ScreenPad screen itself or it will cut off part of the already small screen which isn’t ideal.

As you begin to notice, the logic here starts to show some cracks when you take a hard look at the current touchpad technology and nuances. Then again, ASUS truly are the masters of innovation so it’s VERY DIFFICULT to rule anything out at this point.

So to answer this question, we say that if a mouse is being used? Sure, a ScreenPad in place of the touchpad makes perfect and logical sense. When not using a mouse with a laptop, the dual use of the touchpad seems like a usability nightmare.

Your thoughts?

Solving the mystery of the ASUS ScreenPad. What is it?

[see update below]

So what is the ASUS ScreenPad? Admittedly, we don’t have a certain answer. However we do have some evidence from around the internet that provides some clues.

Samsung has a couple of smartphone docks that allow you to use your smartphone as it were a PC tower. The smartphone provides the “brains” of the operation.

Recently Samsung released a more streamlined product that operates under the same principle. The smartphone is the “brains” but also allows the smartphone to operate as a touchpad.

We believe that the ASUS ScreenPad is a dock that allows you to output onto a display, such as a 4K monitor and connect a keyboard and a mouse (may not be required as the smartphone is likely to double as a touchpad) for use in a desktop like environment.

So think of the ScreenPad as being an accessory of sorts. It will charge your Android mobile phone while also allowing you to use your phone in a completely new way.

While at home or the office you can enjoy the mobile phone on a big display rather than the 5 or 6-inch mobile phone display.

There is going to be more to the Android desktop experience because the OS is designed for touch display, and with this being a desktop environment, people are going to want a slightly modified Android experience. There needs to be some tweaks to Android in order for this to work. Samsung has numerous tweaked apps that are optimized for this very desktop environment.

Update: Upon further pondering, we are starting to wonder outloud about whether the ScreenPad may be some type of gaming device or at least a gaming capable handheld. Could it be something along the lines of the Nintendo Switch “pad”? Perhaps it can double more as a tablet than of a gaming device.

The reason we are shifting to something that’s gaming capable is by some scattered findings on the web. It’s just hearsay, nothing more. At the same time we’re super stumped on this device and speculation will tend to run wild.

Update May 28: When we launched this site, we only had a name to go with. Shortly thereafter we discovered a Google Chrome YouTube extension in the Google Chrome Store. Since that time however, it has become quite clear that the ScreenPad may be a laptop feature rather than a separate accessory. In other words, the ScreenPad could potentially be a new innovative take on the traditional touchpad. So rather than just having a touchpad, the touchpad itself could be a screen unto itself. Certainly the ScreenPad could be an accessory unto itself, but that’s the big question right now.

Welcome to ScreenPad.net!

We’re happy to launch our website today which is going to be 100% about the upcoming ASUS ScreenPad. There isn’t a lot to say just yet, but stay tuned. THis is going to be exciting and for sure innovative. We hope to be your #1 source for all thing ScreenPad. Check back for news and updates! Thanks for stopping by.