Every year, Taiwan's electronics companies gather in Taipei to show off their wares. This year, the big announcement is Intel's new Haswell CPUs, whose improved power performance ought to enable a new generation of thinner, lighter, longer-lasting laptops. Check here to follow all the news from the show.
Jun 13, 2013
Those are some impressive numbers — if they hold up in real-world testing — but Haswell’s been billed as revolutionary, and the new Airs are anything but. Apple decided against tossing a Retina Display into the slim machines, and, presumably, if engineers thought Haswell would be good enough to maintain great battery life and performance with a high-res screen, we would have seen a Retina MacBook Air at WWDC. The question remains, then: Has Haswell delivered on the hype?Read Article >
Intel's partners (unsurprisingly) have touted the improvements featured in the next-generation processor as well: in a sizzle reel of sorts played at the company's Computex keynote last week, a lineup of top executives from Taiwanese tech firms had nothing but good things to say. Acer corporate president Jim Wong said, "We see even higher performance with very amazing power management," while an executive from manufacturer Quanta claimed that there "has never been a processor like this with such great performance and great battery life." The rest followed suit.
Jun 7, 2013
It's been difficult to escape Intel's presence at Computex Taipei this week; not only has the chip maker used Asia's biggest computer event to formally launch its Haswell PC microarchitecture, it's yet again made the case that it's a serious player in the mobile space. And on the face of it, there may be reason to believe.Read Article >
Major manufacturers, including Samsung and Asus, have announced Android products powered by Intel chips in the past week. The new Bay Trail Atom processors promise significant leaps over the current Clover Trail generation, Merrifield smartphones are said to offer a 50 percent performance boost, and Intel even demonstrated a prototype Haswell device running in a thin, fanless enclosure. In a booming keynote on Computex's opening day, executive VP of sales and marketing Tom Kilroy proclaimed that Intel has "busted the x86 power efficiency myth."
Jun 5, 2013
Three days into Computex Taipei, Asia's biggest computer show, not a single manufacturer has announced a Windows RT device. Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 designed for more power-efficient ARM processors, made its official debut at last year's show on a convertible tablet by Asus.Read Article >
The operating system has suffered a shaky period since its October launch, with disappointed comments from partners, fire sales from manufacturers, and unflattering performance comparisons all contributing to a general sense of negativity. The Computex show floor has been dominated by devices running Windows 8 on Haswell and other chips from Intel, but ARM-powered units have been conspicuous in their absence.
Jun 5, 2013
As the thunderous but indistinct techno music blares over Acer's Computex press conference, you can't help but feel transported back in time. This is the sort of atmosphere a Westerner would expect from a product launch in the 1980s. Everything’s hitched up an extra notch, from the neon sign outside Acer's venue to the models' skirts at Asus' Transformer launch. The only thing missing are the crazy, voluminous perms.Read Article >
But volume, in both its aural and metric sense, is the exact thing that defines the Taiwanese press event. If you want more style, you just add more of it, and if you want to be heard by more people, you shout louder. That attitude seems to be a natural corollary of operating in a buzzing, heaving metropolis like Taipei — where in order to stand out, you really do have to bombard people’s senses — but there’s still another reason for all the richly starched pinstripe shirts and over-the-top presentation. The locals here might not enjoy admitting it, but the truth is that most of their cues for conducting a successful presentation and marketing campaign are borrowed from the West.
Jun 5, 2013
The VAIO Duo 11, Sony's sliding, laptop / tablet hybrid didn't exactly take the market by storm – its price was too high, its keyboard cramped, its trackpad non-existent, and its battery life too short to really be a compelling product. Despite all that, Sony thinks the form-factor works, and the company's new Duo 13 promises to fix what ailed the previous device.Read Article >
The simplest solution to the Duo 11's cramped feel was to simply make the device bigger, and that's what Sony did. The Duo 13 is much roomier and more comfortable than the Duo 11, though it's not actually that much larger — it weighs less than three pounds and is only 0.77 inches thick, despite the larger 13.3 screen. That screen is 1080p, and looks great — it's just like the display on the VAIO Pro 13, with great viewing angles, colors, and incredibly crisp and clear text. Unlike the Pro 13 (and its smaller cousin, the 11), though, the Duo 13 doesn't feel flimsy or breakable — it's sturdy and rigid, though it's hard not to worry about a device that "closes" with the screen facing outward.
There's no denying that Asus has a real technological marvel on its hands with the newly introduced 31.5-inch 4K monitor that's gracing its Computex 2013 stand. This stunningly sharp IGZO panel can output images and video at a resolution of 3840 x 2160, and what's more, its US release is scheduled for before the end of this month — a true rarity for Ultra HD panels of any screen size. It does, however, come with a significant and somewhat surprising downside. It's not just the price, which Asus told us today will be in the vicinity of $4,000, making the PQ321 unaffordable for all but the most zealous or resolution-needy among us. Users of high-end laptops are liable to find themselves with an even bigger issue on the horizon.Read Article >
Of course, the target demographic for this new display can be presumed to have beefy desktop machines, but we couldn't resist connecting a 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display to see how it handled Asus' new screen. In spite of the presence of a 4K-capable GeForce GT 650M discrete GPU inside the 15-inch MacBook, the best we could do was scale up the laptop's content to the 4K resolution (an OS X limitation). Even then, tangible lag was introduced when working in more demanding applications like Adobe's Lightroom, while the mouse cursor also exhibited a troublingly low refresh rate.
Jun 4, 2013
At Acer's press conference in Taipei yesterday, the company announced some very welcome changes to one of our favorite ultrabooks of 2012: the Aspire S7. Our two primarily complaints with the machine — battery life and limited RAM — have been addressed, while everything we loved about the laptop — its solid construction and Gorilla Glass lid — has remained the same. It's a promising combination, and after handling the Aspire S7 here at Computex, it looks like Acer may have a winner on its hands.Read Article >
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was personally on hand at Computex today, proselytizing his company's current flagship ARM chip, the quad-core Tegra 4. Beyond the usual claims of great CPU and GPU power, Huang showed off an impressive demo of how Tegra 4 can help improve stylus input as well. Using the third generation of Nvidia's own DirectTouch technology on a reference Tegra 4 tablet, Huang was able to draw with extreme precision using a very basic and crude conductive stylus. "The precision of DirectTouch is many, many times higher than your normal touch controller," said the CEO, "the resolution and sample rate are much higher."Read Article >
His demo was indeed compelling, with fine gradations in pressure being picked up and conveyed on screen, resulting in smooth and flowing lines — calligraphy on a tablet, is how Huang described it. The company's premise is that any device manufacturer that makes use of this as-yet-unnamed technology will save itself $20 per unit by achieving quality equivalent to that of an active stylus. While such a pitch is clearly aimed more toward Nvidia's business partners, there's a good chance that the benefits could trickle down to consumers in the form of more competitive pricing or a better user experience.
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The hinge on the XPS 11 allows the screen to flip nearly a full 360 degrees, turning the workaday laptop into a fun-filled tablet — very much in the same vein as Lenovo's Yoga machine. You can't detach the display, but the sub-15mm thickness with the keyboard included makes this a reasonable device to use in tablet mode even with the keypad still attached. Intelligently, Dell has designed the keyboard so that once the hinge passes 180 degrees, it becomes insensitive to input. It is a curious set of buttons that Dell's opted for here — the prototype we saw had almost no travel to them, though touch was very quickly recognized. You might think of this as a Microsoft Surface with the keyboard cover left attached. Of course, that'd be doing the XPS 11 a disservice, owing to its amazingly dense display and freshly official Core i5 Haswell processor.
Asus is launching its latest PC peripheral today: VivoMouse. The name makes it sound like an ordinary wireless mouse, but this particular device features a desktop touchpad with multi-touch support. It closely resembles the look of Motorola's Aura handset, with a metallic body and curved shapes. Asus describes it as the 'world's first' combination of a mouse and touchpad, with the option to be used with a desktop PC or projector scenarios and living room TVs thanks to its thumb control with the circular touchpad.Read Article >
It comes complete with support for Windows 7 and Windows 8, with swipe gestures to control the Charms and multitasking of Microsoft's new OS. There's also an option to scroll with two fingers and pinch-to-zoom. The top section of the mouse is basically a Windows 8 touchpad, and at the rear of the device there's a laser sensor that lets you use it as a mouse. The touchpad will act like the buttons on a traditional mouse, even when it's not being used in the mouse mode. Asus demonstrated the mouse on stage alongside a new VivoPC designed for the living room, but there's no pricing for either just yet. Asus says the VivoMouse and VivoPC will both be made available in Q3 2013.
At Computex 2013, Asus announced the Transformer Book Trio, a device it calls the "world's first three-in-one notebook, tablet, and desktop PC." The 11.6-inch Transformer Book Trio is designed to instantly switch between Windows 8 and Android (Jelly Bean), offering a dedicated desktop "for work," and basic tablet functionality "for play." The 1920 x 1080 full HD tablet can be mounted to the PC Station dock, which has a laptop-class processor, a full keyboard, a built-in battery, and additional ports. With the tablet display detached, it can be connected to an external display to operate as a desktop PC.Read Article >
Despite the two different operating systems, Asus says that users can synchronize data and immediately pick up where they left off when moving between the two modes. From our early tests, switching between Windows 8 and Android using the dedicated hardware key is fast, although the device itself is a touch on the heavy side. The Transformer Book Trio is powered by dual Intel processors, including a Core i7 Haswell CPU in the PC Station dock and "the highest-performance, yet power-efficient" 2.0GHz Atom chip inside the tablet. Asus says the Transformer Book Trio will offer up to 15 hours battery life and a 750GB hard drive (when connected to the dock), while the tablet includes a 64GB SSD. The company has yet to announce pricing or availability.
Asus is unveiling its latest 7-inch Android tablet today. The Memo Pad HD7 is almost identical to the Nexus 7, but it comes complete with a 5-megapixel rear camera. Asus is also launching it in a variety of colors, with a Quad-core A7 CPU and 7-inch 1280 x 800 HD IPS display. Like the Nexus 7, it includes a 1.2-megapixel forward-facing camera capable of recoding at 720p.Read Article >
A 16GB version will be available for $149, while an 8GB version will launch in emerging markets for just $129. The HD7 also has a microSD slot, making it expandable beyond the default storage. Asus says both models will be available from July onwards.
Today at Computex 2013 in Taiwan, Asus's Jonney Shih is announcing a new 6-inch 1080p device called the FonePad Note. The device has an IPS+ display and runs Android 4, says the CEO, though it isn't clear whether it's the latest build. The new FonePad looks very similar to the 7-inch device we saw at Mobile World Congress, but with a significantly higher resolution display, dual front speakers, and a bundled stylus. Shih says that the device will come bundled with some software that takes advantage of the peripheral, so we can expect some memo and annotation apps to be part of the package.Read Article >
Like Asus's other FonePad products, the FonePad Note has a built-in 3G radio (DC-HSPA+, but no LTE) for voice calls and data. And a 1.6GHz Z2560 "Clover Trail" Atom processor (the Z2560) with 2GB of RAM, and a typical 8-megapixel rear-facing camera round out the spec list. We're curious to see how the FonePad Note compares against similar products from Samsung and others, and will share our impressions once we get a chance to handle it.
Jun 3, 2013
Asus has just announced a refresh to last year's Transformer Pad Infinity, with a much-improved display and processor. The new Android tablet has a 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS display, a Tegra 4 processor, and 2GB of RAM. Asus promises the tablet will have enough power to output 4K video through its HDMI-out port. It also has a USB 3.0 port, 32GB of storage, an SD card slot in its base, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. As is normal for the company's Transformer series of laptops, the dock features a full QWERTY keyboard, additional ports, and battery that will extend the tablet's life. That's all the information Asus has given us on what looks to be its new flagship model, but we're live at Computex in Taipei right now, and will update you as soon as we hear more.Read Article >
Update: A spokesperson tells us that the Transformer Pad Infinity will launch this fall for "roughly" $399, or $499 with a bundled dock.
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Teasing its new ultrabook over a week ago, Asus has confirmed the launch of the 13.3-inch touch-enabled Zenbook Infinity at Computex 2013. Featuring an aluminum and glass design, the Zenbook Infinity is Asus' first laptop to use Gorilla Glass — on both the back of the display and the keyboard surround. It follows Acer with the inclusion of the Corning's scratch-resistant glass after it embedded it in the lids of the Aspire S3 and S7. Asus has included an Intel 28W dual-core Haswell processor, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, and an SD card reader. With a thickness of 15.5mm, the Zenbook Infinity is 14 percent thinner than other Zenbook models and is expected to be available in Q3 2013.
Jun 3, 2013
This morning Acer became the first company to announce a Windows 8 tablet in a smaller 8-inch form factor, and we've checked out the Iconia W3 for ourselves. At 1.1 pounds in weight and 11.43 mm thick, Acer's Atom-powered tablet is a little bulkier than the likes of the iPad mini, but it's by far the most diminutive device to date that runs Windows 8 in full. It also costs just $379.Read Article >
Unfortunately the screen quality leaves a lot to be desired, with poor viewing angles and color reproduction. The construction also fails to impress — I often saw artifacts on the screen where my fingers were gripping the device from behind.
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The Aspire S7 was, for many of us, the best ultrabook of the Ivy Bridge CPU generation. No Windows laptop before it had ever been quite so thin, beautiful and robust, and while the S7 could clearly match aesthetics with Apple's MacBook Air, it also had a distinctive design of its own. Looking to build on that success, Acer today introduced an upgraded Aspire S7-392 ultrabook, powered by Intel's latest Haswell chips, as well as a new Aspire S3 line that compromises a bit on style to deliver more power.
Last year, Acer’s Aspire S7 surprised us by bringing a whole new level of design finesse to the company’s laptop line, with solid build quality and an eye-catching anodized aluminum chassis. This year, the company is iterating on its 13.3-inch ultrabook design in a couple of ways with an updated Aspire S7 and the all-new Aspire S3 — a machine with a similar design but with some more powerful internals for the performance conscious. And if desktops are more your thing, Acer is also announcing the Z3 desktop, a minor bump from last year's identically named all-in-one.Read Article >
This year’s S7 endeavors to fix two of our biggest problems with last year’s model: the memory and the battery. 8GB of RAM is now standard on the S7, whereas last year’s model maxed out at a scant 4GB. But our biggest complaint was the disappointing battery, which we're happy to see has been bumped from 4,680mAh to 6,280mAh — a 34 percent increase that, coupled with the new fourth-generation Intel CPU, should do a lot to improve on the substandard stamina of the original S7. That increase comes with only a marginal increase in thickness (from 0.47 to 0.51 inches) and essentially zero increase in weight — the machine now weighs in at 2.87 pounds, versus last year’s 2.86. Otherwise, things are practically the same: a 1920 x 1080 capacitive touchscreen, two USB 3.0 ports, a 128GB SSD, and integrated graphics, all for the same $1,399. An optional high-res 2560 x 1440 panel will cost extra, although Acer hasn't yet announced pricing breakdowns for its various configurations.
A month ago, an eight-inch Acer tablet running Windows 8 mysteriously showed up on Amazon, only to be removed from the site a few hours later. Well, today Acer is finally making the diminutive Iconia W3 official. The company is confirming that all of the specs listed on Amazon were correct: it weighs 1.10 pounds, measures 0.45 inches thick, features an 8.1-inch 1280 x 800 LCD display, and is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail CPU. Storage is handled by 32GB and 64GB of flash memory, which is further expandable thanks to the W3's microSD slot. A $79.99 full-sized keyboard can also turn the device into a tiny Windows 8 laptop (sans mouse, although one can be added) that can run all of your classic Windows apps, making it an intriguing option for students and others looking for a small dual-purpose device. Even more so with the complementary bundled copy of MS Office.Read Article >
Acer points out that the W3 is actually the first eight-inch tablet to run the full version of Windows 8, but with a full week of announcements at Computex in Taiwan, and Microsoft reportedly planning to announce a 7-inch Surface tablet shortly thereafter, it likely won’t be the only one with that distinction for long. The suggested retail price for the W3 is $379, and while Acer isn't saying exactly when this month it will start shipping, pre-orders begin on Tuesday.
Jun 2, 2013
Writing through a daze of jetlagged insomnia, The Verge sanguinely contemplates the city outside its seventh-floor hotel room window. Taipei is a sweltering, buzzing metropolis, which, like America's New York, can be accurately accused of a chronic inability to ever sleep. As such, this tropical capital is a good embodiment for the show it hosts this week: Computex.Read Article >
The Asian equivalent of CES in the United States, Computex is the main event for all the big Taiwanese brands, from Acer and Asus on the consumer-facing side to Gigabyte and MSI in the internal components arena. So keen are they to outdo each other in front of a home crowd that you'll often see these companies pushing out products like the Padfone and Taichi months in advance of their retail release.