Computex Taipei 2016 comes at a time when there's wider interest in the PC and computer hardware industry than there has been in many years. Taiwanese company Nvidia has just launched the GTX 1080 and 1070 GPUs amid a flurry of hype, much of which is down to the fact that you need a powerful PC to run virtual reality headsets like the Vive from compatriots HTC. VR is likely to be a major theme at this year's Computex, with HTC making an unexpected appearance after years of skipping the show. But there's a lot more going on: Intel and Microsoft have keynotes planned for the week, chip giants like Qualcomm, AMD, and ARM should all be making news, and there'll be the usual slew of products from the likes of Asus, Acer, MSI, and beyond. I'm in Taipei to bring you everything first-hand — stay tuned.
May 30, 2016
The scarcely believable Asus ZenBook 3 is the undeniable highlight of an action-packed press conference from Asus today. This new laptop measures only 11.9mm in thickness and challenges Apple's MacBook for the title of best ultra-portable computer. Not only is the ZenBook 3 thinner, it is also lighter — by 10 grams, weighing in at 910g — and more powerful than its better-known rival.Read Article >
A fully maxed-out ZenBook 3 gets you a Core i7 processor with up to 16GB of RAM and as much as 1TB of solid state disk storage. That costs a mighty $1,999, but it's still one hell of an achievement just to cram all of that power inside the chassis of a super-slim laptop with a 12.5-inch display and almost no bezels. But Asus is famous for its breakthrough pricing, and so its most affordable ZenBook 3 model undercuts Apple's MacBook nicely with a $999 starting price. Importantly, it still has a Core i5 processor, which should easily outperform the MacBook's Core M.
Asus' new ZenBook 3 is plainly aimed straight at the MacBook's heart; chairman Jonney Shih made multiple comparisons to Apple's 12-inch laptop on stage this afternoon at Computex Taipei, highlighting how the latest Zenbook is thinner and lighter while managing to cram in an Intel Core i7 processor.Read Article >
Here's how the two single-USB-C-port-only, shallow-keyboarded laptops shape up against each other in the aluminum, as well as a few pics of the ZenBook 3 by itself. It's certainly not an unattractive device, though we'd need more than a few minutes with it to see how it holds up in terms of performance and battery life. Stay tuned for that whenever Asus ends up shipping — all we know right now is that it's planned for Q3.
Meet Zenbo, a new robot friend for seniors, kids, and anybody else who wants to invite a less cute, real-world version of BB-8 into their own home. Asus chairman Jonney Shih showed off Zenbo on stage at Computex today, describing the robot as a smart home manager, security guard, hands-free kitchen assistant, and family photographer.Read Article >
Zenbo looks like an iMac G4 riding a Sony Rolly, but appears to work like Amazon's Echo, providing recipe recommendations and similar services in response to voice queries. Users can also use Zenbo to buy goods online by logging into accounts and inputting passwords with their voice, and take photos like an autonomous selfie stick.
Asus is taking on Microsoft's latest Surface's tablets with its Transformer 3 and Transformer 3 Pro, a new generation of 2-in-1 devices, announced today at Computex Taipei. The Asus Transformer 3 Pro is a direct competitor for Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, and will be purchasable with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB solid state drive. The device is a hybrid laptop and tablet, but Asus is emphasizing the device's power, describing it as "the world's most versatile PC," and detailing an array of ports to make the Transformer 3 Pro simpler to connect to other devices.Read Article >
The standard Transformer 3 won't have the same specifications as its Pro sibling, with Asus' Jonney Shih saying only that it would feature a seventh-generation Intel CPU, but it will be $200 cheaper than the fancier model. The Asus Transformer 3 will be available from $799 when it hits the market this summer, while the Transformer 3 Pro will start at $999.
Asus has kicked off its Computex Taipei announcements with the Zenfone 3 series, comprising a trio of phones with some pretty big differences. The regular Zenfone 3 is positioned as a mainstream phone with strong design at a low price; the Zenfone 3 Deluxe goes for high-end performance and build quality; and the Zenfone 3 Ultra is centered around entertainment with a gigantic screen. All three of the models look to be far better built than the plastic Zenfone 2.Read Article >
The Zenfone 3 has a 5.5-inch LCD screen, a Snapdragon 625 processor, a 16-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, a 3000 mAh battery, a fingerprint sensor, USB-C 2.0, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage. The phone is made from two panels of glass on the front and back with a metal frame; it's available in gold, blue, black, and white.
Asus has announced its new ZenBook 3, an 11.9-millimeter device it's calling the "the world's most prestigious laptop." Asus Chairman Jonney Shih detailed the ZenBook 3 on stage at Computex, comparing it directly to MacBooks, promising an aluminum alloy device that weighed less than Apple's lightest laptops, and a processor "two times faster than MacBook."Read Article >
Shih said the ZenBook 3 was "the best of both" MacBook and MacBook Air, being lighter and thinner than the former, and more powerful than the latter. The ZenBook 3 will also feature the company's highest screen-to-body ratio of any of its laptops — 82 percent. That screen is 12.5 inches, and is coated in gorilla glass. The body of the laptop has a full-size keyboard, a glass-covered touchpad, and a fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello to make logging in possible without needing to type in your password.
ARM, the company that designs the processor architectures used in virtually all mobile devices on the market, has used Computex Taipei 2016 to announce new products that it expects to see deployed in high-end phones next year. The Cortex-A73 CPU and Mali-G71 GPU are designed to increase performance and power efficiency, with a particular view to supporting mobile VR.Read Article >
ARM says that its Mali line of GPUs are the most widely used in the world, with over 750 million shipped in 2015. The new Mali-G71 is the first to use the company's third-generation architecture, known as Bifrost. The core allows for 50 percent higher graphics performance, 20 percent better power efficiency, and 40 percent more performance per square mm over ARM's previous Mali GPU. With scaling up to 32 shader cores, ARM says the Mali-G71 can match discrete laptop GPUs like Nvidia's GTX 940M. It's also been designed around the specific problems thrown up by VR, supporting features like 4K resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, and 4ms graphics pipeline latency.
Unless you're a diving watch aficionado, you probably hate the word "bezel." And by extension, you probably love the idea of this 4K monitor from Acer, which looks like it might be the best implementation yet of the company's "ZeroFrame" branding. Designed for video and graphics professionals, the BM320 has a 32-inch panel that covers 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, and Acer says its lack of bezels on three sides allows for a "seamless visual experience" when multiple units are used together.Read Article >
No word on price or availability, but we'll try to find out more at Computex Taipei next week. Or at least just stare at the thing for a real long time.
Just ahead of Computex Taipei, which kicks off next week, Acer has announced a pair of inexpensive 2-in-1 notebooks. The Switch V 10 and Switch One 10 both feature detachable 10-inch IPS displays and quad-core Intel Atom processors; the main differences are that the V 10 is available in more colors and has a fingerprint reader, plus a USB-C port for charging, data transfer, and video output.Read Article >
The Switch V 10 will be out in the US in the third quarter of the year for $249, while the One 10 will be available in July from $199. We'll be at Computex next week to find out what those pretty low prices will get you.