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Asus, Bang & Olufsen team for dual-touch-pad laptop

Looking to break away from the standard rules of laptop design, Asus has teamed with Danish consumer electronics maker Bang & Olufsen to create a multimedia system with some pretty unique features.

Now playing: Watch this: Asus NX90

Looking to break away from the standard rules of laptop design, Asus has teamed with a subsidiary of Danish consumer electronics maker Bang & Olufsen (called Bang & Olufsen ICEpower) to create a multimedia system with some pretty unique features.

Designed by award-winning B&O chief designer David Lewis, through his David Lewis Designers studio, the Asus NX90 features a polished aluminum exterior and palm rest, contrasting nicely with a matte-black keyboard and twin touch pads.

If you're scratching your head at that last detail, the NX90 actually has two separate touch pads, and neither one is located in the traditional wrist rest location. Instead, the twin touch pads are situated on either side of the keyboard, representing another break from the typical laptop.

Of his design, Lewis says, "The customer wants a bigger laptop good enough to enter the living room and take the central position. The user cares about what he has in his house and does want to have quality items. Also, he may not be afraid to stand out a little from the crowd."

The concept is that you would use the two touch pads, one with each hand, to control the laptop in new ways. Asus says the touch pads "provide users with an intuitive DJ-like control," and work with Microsoft's Windows 7 multitouch gesture controls. Asus has a software suite it calls Rotation Desktop Control, which provides two-handed control for music and other media.

We haven't had a chance to run it through a hands-on test session yet, but the possibilities look promising, even if they may have a steep learning curve (check back Friday for a First Look video from the CNET CES stage).

Audio quality is also a major part of the NX90's appeal, with two large speaker panels that flank the 18-inch display. Using something Asus calls Sonic Focus technology, the speakers have a dedicated power system, and a speaker box that's much larger than normal. Perhaps more importantly, the vertically mounted speakers actually point the sound at the user, rather than up in the air.

While the companies' claims that this laptop's "laser-cut polished aluminum surfaces" and "silky tactile feel" make it look and feel "like a hand-crafted musical instrument" may be a bit over the top, this is certainly a striking system that looks like it belongs in your living room or media-centric den.

The tech specs are nothing to sneeze at either. The NX90 has an Intel Core i7 CPU (either 7200QM or 8200QM), an 18-inch 1080p display, an Nvidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card, dual hard drives, and a Blu-ray drive. That config will run you $2,499.

The Asus NX90 will start at $1,999, and be available sometime in the second quarter of 2010.