Wednesday, 23 October 2013 16:53

Asus Trio Transformer event - live blog Featured


Asus is launching new computers in Australia today. Vivian Hung, the Australian MD of Asus is speaking on stage, asking us to remember what computers were like 10 years ago - when she originally joined the company.

The following text is me typing as people speak - just read and you'll follow it.

Asus started 24 years ago as a company building motherboards, wanting to understand new users needs. Ms Hung explains that our persona and business needs are complex and diverse, computers have become much more personal - tech you can carry anywhere you go.

So today we're going to get a demo of the latest from Asus - 28% growth on the 3-in-1 market, with Ms Hung suggesting users want a one device, pointing towards the 2010 launch o the first Android-based tablet design.

Despite Ms Hung's 10+ years at Asus, it's still difficult to understand what she's saying - that said, I understood a LOT more of what she said this time that I can ever remember in the past.

That said, there was the Padfone in 2011, then the dual-screen notebook called the Taichi, which personally I didn't think was that special at launch.

However in 2013 we now have a new 3-in-1 device - Ms Hung says she wants to "transform our expectations".

Next us on stage us Andrew McLean - Sales Director for Intel Aust and NZ. We see a qute from Robert Noyce stating: "Don't be encumbered by history, just go out and do something wonderful".

Andrew says this statement is a guiding principle of Intel.

Andrew says the new 4th-gen Intel Haswell chips are wonderful. He says he put the slide up because he thinks it really applies to Asus. Andrew says Intel loves the innovation Asus delivers. He thinks that "everytime we get good turnouts at these events, it's because people want to know what Asus is up to next", "putting excitement back into the marketplace". He feels they try and do different things, driving the industry along.

We see a slide on "mobile computing lines are blurring" - tablets and smartphone usage models are becoming more computer like - creativity apps and usage models - the apps are becoming more mobile in nature. These two worlds are coming together, creating a new sweet spot for the "2-in-1" category of devices, Andrew says we'll see some stunning devices from Asus.

What is the value proposition? It's the end of the "or" era and the start of the "and" era. The 2-in-1 is not a tablet with a keyboard attached, but a real 2-in-1. About having an app ecosystem from a tablet perspective, instant on, touch, great battery life. But from the notebook perspective, it's about having the performance you need to run the apps you want to run.

A 2-in-1 device is a product that brings all that together, says Andrew. From Atom processors - the Bay Trail T model, which we'll see in the Asus T100 model. Twice the processor power of the generation before it, three times the graphics performance - all the way up to the 4th-gen Core family. Huge increases in battery life, very slim form factors, all the processing power you need - up to 7 hours of HD content viewing in one sitting, with double the graphics performance from one gen to the next.

Real true ultrabook products are there in the Asus Zen range, too. Doing all that in an ultra thin form factor - waking up in less than 3 seconds - quicker than last year's less than 7 seconds. Amazingly thin and flexible - and all the user experience things people want out of devices - not just a small increment in processor performance - but different functionality - touch, Wi-Di, fresh data while the computer is sleeping - Intel says they've really raised the bar for ultrabooks.

That's all Andrew McLean wants to say. He's congratulating Asus on its new range - well done he says.

Now another presenter - this time last year we had Taichi. This year, new products - the T100 - for which we are seeing a "quick video", switching from ultraportable tablet to detachable keyboard. Weight is 550 grams for the tablet, goes to 1 kilo when docked with the keyboard - which we're told "won't weigh down the kids' schoolbags". 11 hours of battery life "under normal usage".

Windows 8.1 is naturally installed, with the T100 already in stores - and it also comes with Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student pre-loaded free of additional charge.

How much? The price is $599 in Australia, including the keyboard, Office 2013.

That's the T100 which Asus thinks will be a great success for the Christmas period.

Next up - the refreshed ZenBook. Two years ago Asus launched the ZenBook, which they say "transformed" people's expectations of notebooks. A quick video is being played.

Promising to be "thinner, lighter and more luxurious that ever", the new ZenBook is naturally the Asus answer to everyone else's ultrabook, from Apple's MacBook Airs to everyone else's.

The cover of the ZenBook is "glass", the palm rest is using a ceramic glsss finish with a metal bottom for strength. There are several models - from the i5 with 4GB RAM to a Core i7. 14% thinner than last year's model, this ultrabook weighs 1.2kg. WQHD res for the screen - 2560 x 1440 res - Asus's answer to Apple's Retina screens on a 13.3-inch screen.

Retailers at Asus roadshows say they love the product - now we need to see whether consumers will too, with the new Zenbook due late November or early December. The starting price is $1999 AUD and going up, with the full HD screen.

Now the Asus Transformer book Trio, with Android built into the tablet screen, and the keyboard featuring the full Intel computing experience - which is certainly a bit different.

Asus Trio - the world's first three devices in one. It looks like a laptop when docked. When undocked, you get an Android tablet with its own processor, storage etc, but the keyboard base has a Windows OS, Intel CPU, SSD storage.

Two CPUs, two OS and two storage areas - a true 3-in-1 device. Connect the keyboard base to an external monitor, and you have a whole Windows PC. Let kids play on the tablet screen while you do work through the keyboard base and your external monitor. Pretty impressive stuff.

A pre-canned question - how to transfer documents between the Android side of things and the Windows side - a widget in the Android side apparently lets you share files easily, with Android being able to be run while the keyboard is attached and a button to switch between Android and Windows. RRP is $1599 AUD and available from late November.

The new T100, the new Zenbook and the new 3-in-1 Trio.

There were some questions about pricing, and now everyone is going to the Asus experience zone to see what all the new tech is like.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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