Computex 2014: Acer, Asus and HP think outside the PC box

The show floor hasn't even opened yet, but that hasn't stopped several companies from announcing new devices including smartphones, phablets, and tablets, 2-in-1s and laptops, and of course, yet another smartwatch.
Written by John Morris, Contributor

The show floor doesn't officially open until Tuesday, but that has not stopped many companies from making their Computex announcements. I expected to see a lot of experimentation and that's just what we're getting. The day was a win for Intel with numerous phablets, tablets, and 2-in-1s using its Bay Trail or Moorefield chips, and even a mention of a product that will use its 14nm Broadwell family due later this year. Here are some of the notable early announcements.


Asus is fond of launching Swiss Army knife-like products at Computex, and this year is no different. The most unusual is the Transformer Book V. The name is a reference to the fact that the device works in five different modes as a Windows laptop, Windows tablet, Android smartphone, Android tablet, or Android laptop. The laptop has a 12.5-inch display, "next-generation" Core processor (possibly Broadwell), 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD, and runs Windows. The smartphone has a 5-inch HD display, Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of memory and up to 64GB of storage and runs Android 4.4. Asus is claiming this will be the world’s first smartphone with Intel’s Atom Moorefield processor and 4G LTE wireless.

Asus announced three other new devices based on Moorefield: 7- and 8-inch "phablets" based on the Atom Z3560 and an 8-inch tablet, the Memo Pad 8, based on the Atom Z3580. (Intel had previously announced that KDDI, a wireless operator in Japan, would sell a version of the Memo Pad 8 with Moorefield processor and 4G LTE, starting in August.)

The Transformer Book T300 Chi is a 2-in-1 detachable that Asus is billing as the world’s thinnest in its class. It has a 12.5-inch WQHD display (2,560 by 1,440 pixels) and will use Intel’s next-generation Core, aka Broadwell, processor. The fanless system measures only 0.56 inches thick — 0.29 inches for the dock and 0.27 inches for the tablet. For comparison, the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, a tablet only, measures 0.31 inches thick. The T300 Chi will also be available with integrated 4G LTE wireless. Asus also announced a lower-priced detachable, the Transformer Pad TF303CL, based on Intel's Bay Trail processor. The TF303CL has a 10.1-inch Full HD display (1,920 by 1,200 pixels), Atom Z3745 quad-core processor, 2GB of memory, either 16- or 32GB of storage and runs Android 4.4.

The press conference included only one traditional laptop, the aluminum Zenbook NX500, with a 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD display. The NX500 also has a Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M discrete graphics and SSDs ranging from 128- to 512GB.


Acer’s solution to the PC slump is to focus at Computex on other products, in particular Android smartphones. The Liquid X1 has a 5.7-inch 720p display and uses MediaTek’s MT6592 eight-core processor. The Liquid E700 and E600 are both based on a 5-inch IPS display. But the E700 has a 720p display, MediaTek MT6582 processor, and supports up to three SIM cards. The E600 has a lower resolution display but uses a Snapdragon 400 chip with 4G LTE wireless. The Liquid Z200 is a more basic model with 4-inch WVGA screen (480 by 800 pixels) and MediaTek MT6572M dual-core chip.

Acer also provided more details on the Liquid Jade smartphone and Leap smartband that it previewed at an event in New York a couple months ago. The Jade has a 5-inch 720p display and uses MediaTek MT6582 quad-core processor. Acer is emphasizing the camera features in both the Liquid X1 and the Jade, which include a 13-megapixel sensor, wide-aperture lens and fast autofocus (0.3 seconds). The Leap has a 1-inch touchscreen and can display incoming calls and texts; control music playback on a smartphone; and track steps, running distance, calories burned, and sleep cycles. It is water resistant and Acer claims the battery will last up to seven days. Finally Acer announced the Iconia Tab 8, a tablet with an 8-inch Full HD display, Atom Z3745 Bay Trail quad-core processor and Android 4.4.


HP SlateBook

My colleague, Sean Portnoy, has already covered HP’s back-to-school lineup. Perhaps the most interesting part of this announcement — from what is still one of the world’s largest PC sellers — is how little it focuses on traditional laptops. Instead HP is emphasizing 2-in-1s, including models with hinges that rotate all the way backwards, and detachables, Chromebooks and the long-rumored SlateBook Android laptop powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor.


Gigabyte is better known for its motherboards and PC accessories used by gamers and enthusiasts, but it has a line of gaming laptops branded Aorus. At the Computex opening press conference, Gigabyte was showing two new models, the 13-inch Aorus X3 line and an updated version of the 17.3-inch Aorus X7. The X3 has a 13.3-inch QHD (2,560 by 1,440 pixels) display while the X3 Plus comes with either either a QHD dipslay or QHD+ (3,200 by 1,800 pixels). Both come with the Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, 8GB of memory and Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M graphics. The refreshed X7 gets a newer Core i7 processor, faster memory and Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M dual graphics. These systems aren’t meant for business users, of course, but I was impressed by how thin and light these high-performance gaming laptops have become.

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