This week I’ve heard a lot about convertibles and 2-in-1 computing out of Computex. Asus is attempting to top that with a system meant to do triple duty as tablet, laptop and desktop. The novel Transformer Book Trio was one of several products Asus announced this week at the show.
The Asus Transformer Book Trio is really two separate computing devices in one with two processors, two operating systems, two sets of storage and two batteries.
The Trio looks like a Transformer Book convertible with an 11.6-inch (1920x1080) display that in notebook mode can run either Windows 8 or Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). The display doubles as an Android tablet with a 2.0GHz Atom Z2580 processor (Clover Trail+), 2GB of memory, 64GB of storage and a 19WHr battery. That leaves the PC Station dock, which can be hooked up to an external display to use as a Windows 8 desktop with a fourth-generation (Haswell) Core i7 processor and 750GB of storage.
The PC Station’s 33Whr battery can also be used as an extended battery for the tablet in notebook mode delivering up to 15 hours of battery life, according to Asus. The Transformer Book Trio will be available in the third quarter but Asus did not announce pricing.
While the Trio was unusual, the most impressive new product from Acer is the MeMO Pad HD 7, a nice-looking 7-inch tablet that will cost only $129 with 8GB of storage and $149 with 16GB. The Memo Pad HD 7 has a 1280x800 IPS display with wide viewing angles, a MediaTek MT6589 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of memory, a 1.2MP front camera and optional 5MP rear camera, and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It weighs about the same as an iPad Mini (302 grams) and comes in four colors (blue, white, pink and green). The Memo Pad HD 7 will be available in July.
The larger Memo Pad FHD 10 has a 10-inch 1920x1200 IPS display, Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom Z2560 (Clover Trail+) dual-core processor, 2GB of memory, 16- or 32GB storage (plus a microSD card slot), a 1.2MP front camera and 5MP rear camera and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Asus is pushing this as a multimedia table for high-definition video and gaming. It is the same thickness as an iPad, but weighs less (580 grams) and its 25WHr battery is good for up to 10 hours of video playback, according to Asus. The MeMO Pad FHD 10 will be available in September; no word on pricing yet. While this looks like a nice tablet with a design similar to the popular Nexus 7, the timing is tough since tablets based on Intel’s more powerful Bay Trail platform should be available only a few months later.
Asus also announced an updated version of its Transformer Pad Infinity with a better display and fastre processor. The new model has a 10.1-inch 2560x1600 IPS display, Nvidia’s 1.9GHz Tegra 4 quad-core processor, 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage. Asus says it has redesigned the keyboard dock adding a multi-touch touchpad, USB 3.0 and an SD card reader. It will launch in the fall for around $400 on its own and $500 with the dockng keyboard.
The VivoPC didn’t get much attention but it looks compelling and has an interesting feature not found on most small form-factor PCs: the ability to easily swap out the hard drive (it can handle either 3.5- or 2.5-inch SATA 6Gbps drives) or upgrade the memory. It also The VivoPC looks like a small set-top box measuring only 56mm tall and has a brushed metallic finish so it will work in any room. Asus also announced a combo touchpad, mouse and remote designed to be used with VivoPC, and an 802.1ac wireless router for streaming high-quality video.
Finally Asus unveiled a new phablet, the Fonepad Note FHD 6, which has a 6-inch Full HD (1920x1080) Super IPS+ display, 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 dual-core (Clover Trail+) and a stylus. The Fonepad is 3G-only and is unlikely to make it to the U.S.