Asus just made my new dream laptop, and all it took was an e-ink display!?

Asus' Project Dali concept laptop at Asus HQ
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There’s just something about buying a new smartphone or laptop and making it truly your own. Whether that’s with a custom case or even just with stickers, many people don’t want to carry around a device that looks like everyone else’s. And who could blame them?

Customizing your smartphone is easy enough as you can just buy a case to go with it. However, the same can’t be said for the best laptops. For starters, unless you buy a popular model, you likely won’t even be able to find a case for your laptop. Even then, a case adds extra bulk and unlike with your smartphone, you really don’t need one to protect your laptop in the same way since you’re not constantly taking it out and putting it back in your pocket.

Stickers have long been a popular way to add a bit of extra personality to a laptop lid, whether it’s one sticker right in the middle or a ton of them completely covering your laptop. This does the trick in a pinch but over time, their adhesive wears off. Likewise, if you do decide you don’t want to have stickers all over your laptop anymore, the gunk they leave behind can be a pain to remove.

At Computex 2024 though, Asus showed us that there’s a better way. Instead of using a case or sticker bombing, what if you could change the design of your laptop with just a tap on its trackpad? Well soon you can, at least with the company’s new Project Dali concept we got to go hands-on with during our recent trip to Asus’ headquarters.

Completely customizable

Asus Project Dali concept laptops in black and white

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Out on the show floor at Computex, Asus has what looks like an art installation set up with over a dozen different colored images on the back of laptops hanging from strings. At first glance, I really thought the company was launching a new e-reader with colored ink. Also, it didn’t help that their booth was so crowded with people checking out the new ROG Ally X and the rest of the devices Asus brought with it to this year’s show.

It wasn’t until I and the rest of the Tom’s Guide team here on the ground in Taipei had a chance to visit Asus’ headquarters that I understood. After touring the facilities and checking out the QTR lab where the company puts its devices through rigorous testing, we got to see all of the company’s latest products in a less crowded and much quieter environment. 

At the very back of the showroom, I came across a wall of colored displays just like the one at Asus’ booth. This time around though, on top of a light table in front of it, there were two laptops with some very interesting designs on their lids. Instead of just featuring the Asus logo on the back, these redesigned versions of the Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop have a 12-inch e-ink screen in its place. Though we have seen laptops with an e-ink screen on the back before, like Lenovo's ThinkBook Plus Twist, and we've even seen models of the G14 with Asus' customizable "Anime Matrix 2.0" LED light grids on the lid, these were quite different. 

The e-ink screen on Asus' Project Dali laptop changing between two pictures

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Even with just six colors to work with, the e-ink displays on the back of Asus’ Project Dali concept laptops can show off some impressive designs. Also, since this is e-ink after all, once you choose a picture and set it (which takes around 20 seconds or so) having this feature enabled doesn’t affect the device’s battery life at all. In fact, even if your laptop’s battery dies, you’ll still be able to show off the cool picture on the back.

As for which pictures you can use to customize the back of one of these laptops, you have loads to choose from. There are plenty of curated designs from Asus, but you can also upload your own photos or images. Likewise, you can also use AI to generate a one-of-a-kind image. The end result, you get a laptop lid design that can turn heads at any coffee shop. Plus, you won’t accidentally end up grabbing the wrong laptop after a big conference room meeting at work.

Truly your own

Two Project Dali laptops from Asus on a table with completely different pictures on the e-ink screens on their lids

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Normally with something like this, there’d be some kind of sacrifice you’d have to make. However, even with an extra e-ink display on the back, these Project Dali concept laptops aren’t that much thicker than Asus’ standard Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop. 

While Asus tried out adding a colored e-ink display to the back of this particular gaming laptop, this is a concept after all. As such, we could see this technology find its way into other laptops and not just gaming ones. For instance, Asus’ ProArt laptops for creators would be a great fit for this too since you could draw your own design and show it off on the back of your laptop. Even its business laptops could benefit from this technology as you could have your company logo on the back while attending trade shows like Computex. The possibilities are truly endless.

I know this is just a concept after all but based on my time testing out Project Dali, it felt a lot closer to a finished product and unlike other more unique laptop designs, this is far from a gimmick. We’ll just have to wait and see as to whether or not Asus decides to bring this tech to market but if it does, this could be a game changer for laptops.

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home. 

  • Infinite88
    Oh great, another way for people to show off that they're PoS. I knew as soon as I saw this that the lowlifes of society will use it to display flashing seizure inducing images like in the demo or to show cancer inducing video/imagery to be obnoxious.
    Maybe this type of tech shouldn't exist so it can't be abused. It isn't necessary for people to "show off their (nonexistent & pretentious) creativity," no one needs to see it and shouldn't need it forced on them.