Computex 2016: ASUS unveils $599 Zenbo home robot

Described as a 'smart little companion', the Zenbo robot from ASUS is a smart home manager and security device.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih and Zenbo robot
(Image: Intel)

Zenbo is a home robot from ASUS that is able to wheel itself around, respond to the "Hey Zenbo" phrase much like many regular smartphone assistants, and perform as a smartphone hub.

Exact details of its launch are scarce, but it will be priced from $599.

Described by ASUS chairman Jonney Shih as a "smart little companion", Zenbo's feature set is presently aimed at seniors and children.

The robot is currently capable of much the same tasks as you would expect of a voice-controlled tablet computer on wheels, albeit with a select number of custom applications -- such as a library of stories that involve different voices, and controlling the room's lighting, as well as reminding seniors of appointments and notifying family members in the case of a fall -- but the company is looking for partners and developers to get on board.

"For decades, humans have dreamed of owning such a companion: One that is smart, dear to our hearts, and always at our disposal," Shih said. "Our ambition is to enable robotic computing for every household."

Elsewhere in its traditional pre-Computex press conference, ASUS launched a new range of Zenbooks, Transformers, and smartphones.

The Zenbook 3 is a laptop featuring a 12.5-inch display, an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR3-2133MHz RAM, up to 1TB of SSD storage, quad speakers, nine hours of battery, and a USB-C port.

ASUS is targeting those looking for a MacBook, with the company claiming it is 1.07 times faster than the MacBook Air and 1.5 times faster than the MacBook. Pricing for the Zenbook 3 starts at the $2,000 mark for the top-of-the-line 16GB/1TB version, and drops to $1,000 for a device with 4GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

In the 2-in-1 category, ASUS has launched the Transformer Pro 3 and Transformer 3. The Transformer Pro 3 packs a 12.6-inch display with a resolution of 2,880x1,920, an Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of DDR3-2133Mhz RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, and a 13-megapixel camera, as well as Thunderbolt 3, a separate USB 3.0, and a full-sized HDMI port.

The Pro 3 can also come with a dock featuring USB-C, USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, RJ45 LAN, and a 3-in-1 SD card-reading port; a stylus; a four-speaker "Audio Pod"; and a ROG XG Station 2 that functions as an external graphics card. Pricing for the Pro 3 begins at $1,000 for the 256GB version that includes a stylus and cover.

The Transformer 3 differs from its Pro brethren in that it can have up to 8GB of DDR3-1866MHz RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and its price starts at $799 for the 256GB version.

For smartphones, ASUS launched the ZenPhone 3 series, which contained the ZenFone 3 Ultra. The monster is a whopping 6.8-inch device with a 4600mAh battery, a 23-megapixel camera, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, Adreno 510 graphics, and up to 4GB of RAM. Pricing for the Ultra will start from $479.

Its premium model, the Zenfone 3 Deluxe, has a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 820 processor, an Adreno 530 GPU, a 23-megapixel camera, and packs up to 6GB of RAM. ASUS said the phone has a metal unibody construction with no markings to show where the phone's antenna is. With USB-C, the phone is able to receive a charge of 60 percent in 39 minutes, and is set to cost upwards of $499.

The regular Zenfone 3 will be priced upwards of $249, and comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, an Adreno 506 GPU, a 16-megapixel camera, and up to 4GB of RAM.

Computex 2016 officially kicks off tomorrow.

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