Computex, the annual computer-centric tradeshow in Taipei, is at its core a battle for PC supremacy between Asus and Acer, while a few other technology companies like Nvidia, Intel, and ARM show up to munch on popcorn and show off a few of their own advancements. This year highlights the continued effort to make a gaming laptop that is worth calling a "laptop," the insatiable appetite gamers have for high-end accessories, and the wide void in the market for a MacBook Air that's not circa 2012. We're here, of course.
Jun 1, 2017
One of the most interesting news stories to come out of Computex Taipei, for my money, was Nvidia’s Max-Q — it’s a whole new design approach to gaming laptops, helping manufacturers put powerful GPUs like the GTX 1080 inside slim notebooks. It was a little amusing, then, to see Zotac use the same show to announce the world’s smallest version of Nvidia’s fastest gaming GPU: behold the Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini, which absolutely will not fit into any laptop.Read Article >
It’s not a fair comparison, of course: Nvidia’s laptop GPUs are already clocked lower than their desktop counterparts to reduce the need for giant cooling systems like you see here, and Max-Q devices use software to further optimize their performance. Zotac’s GTX 1080 Ti Mini is for PC builders who aren’t willing to compromise on power but still want a reasonably small system — at 8.3 inches long, it shouldn’t have any problem fitting into a mini ATX tower.
May 31, 2017
The new Core X-series chips from Intel sound very powerful and good, but there's one caveat: you'll need a new motherboard. The current standard Z270 motherboard chipset is a "consumer" product, and the new X-series processors have a different pin layout, and are designed for a slightly more demanding customer with deeper pockets.Read Article >
The X299 isn't a huge upgrade over the Z270, but it's a major leap past the X99 boards, which hosted the last generation of Intel's most extreme chips. X299 chipsets support up to 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes, compared to the paltry eight PCIe 2.0 lanes on X99. Paired with the new processors, you're looking at an embarrassment of I/O — you can load a system up with multi-gigabit Ethernet, a few GPUs, and a couple of M.2 SSDs, and still have headroom to spare for your USB 3.1 daisy chain, Thunderbolt, and a handful of SATA devices.
Microsoft showed off a bunch of hardware at its Computex Taipei presentation today, most of which we’d seen before. One thing we’d never seen in person, however, is Harman Kardon’s Invoke — the audio company’s take on a digital assistant speaker, powered by Microsoft’s Cortana.Read Article >
Unfortunately the Invoke demo unit was not turned on or plugged in, so all I can report to you is that it is indeed cylindrical and looks at least as up to the task of imprisoning an AI assistant as the Amazon Echo. It ought to sound better, too, given Harman Kardon’s audio pedigree and inclusion of three times as many woofers and drivers. The main question, of course, is how well Cortana performs in a device like this.
Every year, PC gear company Thermaltake brings a bunch of custom-built gaming PCs to Computex Taipei. They can get pretty wild, but the company has seriously outdone itself this time. Witness this astonishing work of art, credited to ThermalMike:Read Article >
Yes, since you ask, that is a Donkey Kong-themed PC inside a modded Tower 900 case with colored liquid coolant representing the classic arcade game's girders and ladders. Well played, ThermalMike.
No one seems to want a new tablet, but Asus is going to keep making them anyway. The company just introduced its new ZenPad 3S 8.0 at Computex this week. It follows the ZenPad 3 8.0 tablet that Asus released last year. The new tablet has some slight spec boosts, like more memory and an upgrade to Android Nougat. The company hasn’t put out official details on the device, but PhoneRadar got the specs:Read Article >
We don’t have pricing or an exact release date. I’m not sure how many people are looking for a middle-of-the-road tablet, but maybe there’s someone out there for Asus, although the company has tough competition from Apple with its new $329 iPad.
Intel unveiled its Compute Card, a credit card-sized device that’s basically an entire PC, at CES this year. At Computex this week, the company officially launched the card with a full list of partners and what we can expect to see from them product-wise. These devices will all be at the show and vary widely. Sharp, for example, is showing off digital signage while Seneca and Foxconn are making mini PCs. LG is sticking the Compute Card in its monitors to turn them into all-in-ones. The card might also show up in tablets and interactive whiteboards. Nexdock will be showing something off, too, which we can assume is its touchscreen concept that it announced in January. Intel says the Compute Card will start shipping in August.Read Article >
Weirdly, Intel’s most well-known partners, including Lenovo, HP, and Dell, aren’t ready to show off their products. Intel says they’ll definitely create something but we don’t have an idea of what those devices might be.
May 30, 2017
Last week, Acer announced its new 35-inch curved flagship gaming monitor, which means, of course, that Acer's long-standing rival Asus had to bring an even better 35-inch display to Computex this week.Read Article >
The new ROG Swift PG35VQ, spotted by Engadget, has a quantum dot LCD with a 3440 x 1440 resolution and HDR — in fact, it's the exact same AU Optronics panel that's in Acer's latest, although Acer doesn't list HDR as a spec for some reason. What really differentiates the PG35VQ for Asus is the addition of a 200Hz refresh rate. Acer is only advertising 100Hz, overclockable to 120Hz. Both displays have G-Sync.
May 30, 2017
Samsung is bringing its S Pen technology to the company’s notebook line today. At Computex, Samsung is launching its new Notebook 9 Pro. Unlike the previous Notebook 9 series, this Pro version now has a 360-degree hinge just like Lenovo’s Yoga laptops and it means the Notebook 9 Pro can be used as a tablet or a laptop. Samsung is pairing that hinge with an embedded S Pen that slides into the base of the Notebook 9 Pro.Read Article >
The S Pen includes 4,000 levels of pressure and the ability to detect tilt for shading (just like Microsoft's new Surface Pen). It also includes Samsung’s Air Command software for drawing, notes, and editing documents. Samsung is also ensuring its S Pen is fully compatible with Windows Ink, allowing Notebook 9 Pro users to use the stylus across all of Windows 10.
May 30, 2017
It’s happened to the best of us: you’re in the heat of a critical moment in a boss battle, throwing back cans of Mountain Dew Game Fuel to keep you going, and tragedy strikes. The condensation-slicked can slides out of your grip, and, as if in slow motion, you watch your drink plummet toward your prized gaming keyboard. Even if the hardware somehow survives the fizzy flood, everyone knows the switches will never feel the same with all that sticky sugar on them.Read Article >
Fortunately, Corsair has engineered a new ending to this tragic tale with its K68 mechanical keyboard, designed to survive dust and spills with an IP32 rating. Each key on the K68 has an individual silicone rubber shield to protect the internal hardware.
May 30, 2017
Nvidia has announced Max-Q at Computex Taipei today, a new design approach that’s intended to enable thin, light, and quiet laptops with strong gaming performance. The company says that the Max-Q spec can cut the power consumption of a GTX 1080 in half, for example, allowing it to be used in an ultraportable notebook.Read Article >
Nvidia is working from the principle that you get diminishing returns at some point when increasing performance capability, and Max-Q software figures out the optimal point to target. That GTX 1080 with half the power consumption is the exact same chip you’d find in a bulky gaming laptop today, but Nvidia says it should achieve about 90 percent of the performance in a thin and light design. Each Max-Q laptop requires the manufacturer to work closely with Nvidia on thermal and acoustic design to eke out extra efficiencies wherever possible.
Microsoft is quite open about its reasons for continually refusing to add USB-C to its line of Surface computers; the company just doesn’t think the multi-functional port is mainstream enough yet. But that doesn’t mean people don’t want it, as Eve-Tech CEO Konstantinos Karatsevidis will tell you. And he should know — his startup’s new convertible computer, the Eve V, had its spec sheet determined by the votes of thousands of crowdfunding backers.Read Article >
What does the resulting product look like? Well, it’s pretty much a Surface Pro with two USB-C ports. You were saying, Microsoft?
Speak to any designer of modern gadgets and you’ll hear plenty of frustration with the creative constraints imposed by having to build ever-thinner, ever-lighter devices. There’s just not much room for flair and expression when the thing you’re building is thinner than a pack of gum. But Asus has found a sliver of space to assert its design uniqueness by blasting the edges of its new ZenBook Flip S and ZenBook Deluxe laptops with a lick of glorious golden color.Read Article >
This design element was first introduced by Asus with the original ZenBook 3 unveiling last year, and it seems to have been refined and updated for the Deluxe model as well as expanded to include the brand new Flip S. The convertible Flip S has the color accent on its keyboard section, whereas the ultra-thin ZenBook Deluxe has it framing the top lid. In both cases, I find it an absolutely gorgeous yet subtle enhancement to the laptop’s look, whether the main color is silver or navy blue — and I’d welcome more companies embracing this idea. A cynic might suggest that this is just a remix of the typical (and overdone) chrome effect that companies like to apply to technological products and car window frames, but cynics say a lot of silly things. I just can’t help fantasizing about a matte-black ThinkPad with a thin red streak around its edges, signaling the power contained within.
Asus just finished its Computex Taipei 2017 press conference, and in a surprising departure for the Taiwanese company, it was totally straightforward. That’s right, there were no weird tablets or dubious home robots this year, and no-one said “selfie” on stage even once — there were just a ton of new laptops. Here are all of them!Read Article >
The Flip S is the “world’s thinnest convertible,” according to Asus chairman Jonney Shih. It’s 10.9mm thick, which Asus says is 20 percent slimmer than the MacBook, and it weighs in at 1.1kg (2.42 pounds). Asus claims 11.5 hours of battery life from its Core i7 processor, though the company isn’t specifying which specific chip it’s using inside the Flip S. There’s a single USB-C port, and the 13.3-inch 4K screen folds around 360 degrees for tablet use. The ZenBook Flip S starts at $1,099.
Asus, purveyor of the world’s finest arachnid overlord wireless router designs, has gone back to the drawing board and come up with a new look that’s much friendlier to humans. The antenna-less Asus Blue Cave offers "smooth Wi-Fi [and] smart protection," which in geekier terms means support for AC2600-class dual-band operation, powered by Intel’s latest Wi-Fi chipset, and Trend Micro protection for "every connected smart device on the network, including IoT devices." But really and truly, we’re all here for that "unique and attractive central aperture that is bathed in gentle blue light."Read Article >
While most other home Wi-Fi routers have started supporting mesh networking, this new Asus model is content to only offer a mobile app with granular user controls to pad out its "smart functionality" credentials. IFTTT support is a nice extra, though.
On the eve of Computex, Taiwan’s big showpiece event where PC makers roll out the latest and best implementations of Intel CPUs, mobile rival ARM is announcing its own big news with the unveiling of a new generation of ARM CPUs and GPUs. Official today, the ARM Cortex-A75 is the new flagship-tier mobile processor design, with a claimed 22 percent improvement in performance over the incumbent A73. It’s joined by the new Cortex-A55, which has the highest power efficiency of any mid-range CPU ARM’s ever designed, and the Mali-G72 graphics processor, which also comes with a 25 percent improvement in efficiency relative to its predecessor G71.Read Article >
The efficiency improvements are evolutionary and predictable, but the revolutionary aspects of this new lineup relate to artificial intelligence: this is the first set of processing components designed specifically to tackle the challenges of onboard AI and machine learning. Plus, last year’s updates to improve performance in the power-hugry tasks of augmented and virtual reality are being extended and elaborated.
May 25, 2017
Computex doesn’t start until this weekend, but Acer decided to get a head start and release a couple laptops and tablets today. The company announced two new laptops: the Nitro 5, designed for casual gaming; and the Spin 1, an ultra-light convertible laptop that comes in at less than three pounds.Read Article >
Acer is also releasing two new Iconia tablets with the One 10 and Tab 10. The One 10 comes with dual Micro USB ports for easy connectivity with external components, while the Tab 10 comes with a Quantam Dot display and four speakers. Both tablets feature MediaTek quad-core processors, run on Android 7.0, and will last eight hours, according to Acer.