The real conundrum of the touchpads is that you have to unlearn the impulse to move to below the keyboard to use the mouse. In a way this is a little more ergonomic, but it still feels pretty awkward at this point. The issue is further complicated by the fact that this editor is an ambidextrous physical mouse users, but usually uses his touchpad with the left handed. The material is a simple matte plastic, not quite a soft touch but very comfortable and sensitive. There's a real premium element to all of the plastics used -- not a bit of gaudy gloss in sight -- but some of the edges on these preproduction models are a little concerning. We tested out a bit of pre-loaded music on the laptop, and found the speakers to be decent in depth at first, but surprisingly they started to distort at full volume -- hopefully that's something that just needs a software tweak to fix -- it's certainly not a $10,000 speaker system in the comfort of your lap, just in case you bought the ASUS line on this thing. At least it's loud.
The keyboard looks quite comfortable, and the keys are well spaced, but unfortunately it lacked the sort of depth and responsiveness we'd like out of a keyboard -- particularly on a large, premium laptop. It almost feels like a stiffened, scaled-up netbook keyboard, but perhaps we're being too harsh. While all the plastics are pretty smudge free, the metal surround them (the laptop comes in brushed and mirrored finishes) are not at all impervious to fingerprints. Overall we'd say there are some elements here that make this thing almost deserving of its $2500 pricetag, while other elements have our heads scratching. We'll have to play long term with a final unit to know for sure.