Asus had plenty to show us and the company, this year, was back in the Messe after being just in the centre of Berlin for some years. We were pleased, as it is hard to find enough time to get down to the centre of town!
The ZenBook 13 (UX333) is a new 13.3″ notebook and there is a ZenBook Pro 14 (UX433) that use the Asus ‘ScreenPad’ concept which was previewed at Computex. The concept puts a touch-enabled 5.5″ FullHD LCD where you would normally have a simple touchpad and allowing the touchpad to have special functions. The display is very flexible and can be used via an SDK and API that is available from Asus. It can be invoked using a toolbar that can be downloaded from the Microsoft store. Features can include acting as a calculator or music controller or as a program launcher and there are add-ons for Office applications. The pad can be designed to respond adaptively in desktop apps so that the display changes according to the task at hand. It can also connect to a phone using Asus Sync allowing access to the phone functions.
The main display is a 13.3″ FullHD display with a ‘NanoEdge’ design and covering 95% of the display area. Features of the 1.09kg notebook include a 3D IR camera for Windows Hello.
There is also a new ZenBook 15, but it doesn’t have the ScreenPad, however, it does have the option of an Nvidia GeForce MX150 or GTX 1050 Max-Q. The battery life is 13 hours for the 13″, 14 for the 14″ and 16 for the 15″ unit. The hinge lifts the back of the keyboard when the display is opened.
The Zenbook S is a 1Kg notebook that is small and just 12.9mm thick, but is claimed to have a 20 hour battery life. The display is an UltraHD unit (FullHD is an option) that is said to come from Sharp and uses just 1W and also has an anti-glare display. The processors are the latest 8th generation Intel Core processors of up to 16GB RAM and is standard with up to a 512GB SSD. The unit supports Mil-Std-810G drop tests and there are three USB Type-C connectors with charging connections on each side. The display lifts up the back of the keyboard when it is open and is quite rigidly hinged.
The updated Zenbook Flip 13 is a convertible with an UltraHD display and a 90% screen to body ratio. Staff told us that the infrared camera allows Windows Hello login in seven seconds. The Flip 13 doesn’t have the full features of the ScreenPad, but has a feature to allow the touch pad to be used as a numeric keypad. The company has been working on exploiting the camera in A/R applications and mixed reality applications.
The display is quoted as having a delta E error of less than 3 – not up to high end monitor quality, but it’s unusual to see a company quoting colour quality on a notebook.
We came back to the booth a second time to check out the RoG gaming products as a specialist was not available on our first visit. There was plenty to see.
First, the company showed us the RoG smartphone which is dedicated to gaming. It is based around a Snapdragon 845 and has to have the performance and quality. It has a 6″ 2160 x 1080 (18:9) format AMOLED display that can run at 90Hz to give good response. The phone has a passive cooling system with copper plates and chambers to move heat away from the CPU and the Adreno 630 GPU. It has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
It also has an active cooling add-on that runs from a second USB connector on the side of the phone, that replicates the one on the bottom. The phone also has support for 802.11ad at 60GHz and that means it supports WiGig so it can cast its display to an external adaptor for a monitor, that the company also has and that has a latency of less than 20ms.
Other add-ons include stereo speakers and the case is designed to support touch through ultrasound which allows ‘trigger’ operations, without the fingers blocking the display. The unit can also have a second display added and there are new games under development to support the second display. The add-on also includes a 6,000 mAh battery and an SD Card slot as well as a cooler. Asus also has an optional USB Type-C dock that can support keyboard and mouse operation of the smartphone.
Turning to notebooks, the new one in the RoG range is the Zephyrus S which includes a GeForce GTX1070 with Max-Q GPU to drive the 15.6″ FullHD LCD IPS display that can run at up to 144Hz with 3ms response and supports 100% of sRGB. When placed on a surface, there is a small gap under the notebook to allow better cooling. An unusual feature is that the keyboard is moved to the front of the case, with a combined touchpad/numeric keypad on the right.
The company also has new PCs that are specifically optimised for first-person-shooters (FPS) and has a 17.3″ FullHD IPS display, again with 144 Hz and 3ms response and 100% of sRGB. The displays have NanoEdge displays. Features include special keys on the keyboard that are the most popular with gamers.
The company also announced new GPUs based on the Nvidia RTX technology, but was not showing them at the event.