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Asus' new tablet has swappable backs that add surround speakers or battery life

Asus' new tablet has swappable backs that add surround speakers or battery life

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Asus isn't one to shy away from wild ideas (remember the dual-OS Transformer Book Trio?), and at Computex this year it looks like the company has another crazy tablet up its sleeve. The company's new ZenPad 8.0 tablet range has interchangeable back plates that don't just let you change how the tablet looks — they add features.

One back plate that makes some sense adds an extra battery, giving you a total of 14 hours worth of juice. Another, called the Audio Cover, adds six — yes, six! — speakers to the back of your tablet. With the audio cover snapped on, you'll get DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound, supposedly.

We tracked down a (sadly non-working) example of the Audio Cover following Asus' Computex presentation, and the design is actually quite neat; it's less backplate than flip cover, with the speaker array appearing where the keyboard would on a laptop. If you ever watch movies on a small tablet propped up, this should improve the experience somewhat — though we can't speak to audio quality just yet.

asus audio cover

That's one way to differentiate

There are more conventional options, too, like different colored backs for the tablet. There will even be leather options like the LG G4. As for the specifications, the Z380C has an 8-inch, 1200 x 800 IPS display, 1 or 2GB of RAM, and it'll come in 8GB and 16GB varieties. What we're looking at, then, is an affordable tablet — in fact, it'll be one of the first to use Intel's super-low-cost Atom X3 SoFIA chip. Don't expect oodles of performance, but the price should be right. That said, pricing and availability is still up in the air, according to Asus.

Asus has announced another ZenPad 8, called the Z580CA, with a faster processor, stylus support, and high-resolution 2048 x 1536 display. If you're keeping score, that means the 8-inch Android tablet has a 4:3 screen just like the iPad mini.

Asus ZenFore Selfie

Asus is also going after the selfie craze with a new smartphone, fittingly called the ZenFone Selfie. Just like HTC's competing Desire Eye, both the front and rear cameras have 13-megapixel sensors, the largest ever for a front-facing camera. The 5.5-inch Android phone has a wide-angle camera on the front with an f/2.2 lens — the same as the iPhone 6. The rear camera has a rather sizable 1/3.2 sensor (again, comparable to the latest iPhone), laser autofocus, and an f/2.0 aperture.

Inside, the ZenFone Selfie is powered by the octa-core, Snapdragon 615 processor. In terms of looks, the Selfie unsurprisingly has a bit in common with the Desire Eye thanks to that big honking camera on the front. Just like the ZenPads, no word yet on when you'll be able to pick up the Selfie or how much it will cost you.