ASUS has had a strong presence in the past years at most important tech conferences, including CES and IFA. This year, at CES 2014, they didn’t disappoint anyone with their line-up of products. Some products received upgrades like the well known Transformer while other lines like the PadFone got new models to strengthen their numbers. Overall, ASUS’s line-up was well thought and pleasing for both Android and Windows users.
Transformer Book Duet TD300 – Dual boot Android & Windows 8
With a single device, ASUS managed to merge two operating systems and bring them closer together: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Windows 8.1. The Transformer Book Duet TD300 is, in some regards an engineering marvel, as it runs two operating systems and in two different modes: laptop and tablet. This convertible device is powered by a very capable Intel i7 processor, backed up by 4 GB or RAM. Storage is provided by a 128 GB SSD when used in tablet mode, but for those who will use the device as a laptop, the dock offers an additional 1 TB of storage. Its 13.3 inch multi-touch display is capable of pushing of showing a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Befitting its laptop roots, the device is somewhat bulky, tipping the scales at 4.1 pounds and when compared to other tablets, its thickness of half on inch isn’t too impressive. Nonetheless, switching between Android and Windows is done in seconds, at the press of a button. ASUS claims that the Transformer Book Duet TD3000 “runs up to twice as fast as existing tablets based on ARM processors”, which, if proven to be true, is an achievement.
In terms of price and availability, the Transformer Book Duet TD300 doesn’t have an official launch date, but we do know that it will go for around $599, which is pretty affordable, considering the hardware which it comes with as well as the two operating systems it runs.
The first generation of the PadFone was a jewel of a gadget, and even with its “generous” price-tag, many users became fans of it, so much that ASUS thought of creating a smaller version of the smartphone-tablet duo. The PadFone Mini, as it’s called, has the same option of converting to a tablet by placing the smartphone in a socket located on the back of the tablet. The smartphone features a 4-inch screen IPS+ display with a modest 800 x 480 resolution, it is powered by an Intel 1.65 GHz Atom Z2560 processor with 1 GB or RAM and storage-wise, it has 8 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded to 64 GB by using a microSD card.
The device does not support LTE networks, but on the plus side, it is a dual-SIM device. The PadFone also has a 2MP front facing camera and the rear shutter has a resolution of 8 MP with Sony’s backside-illumination sensor and fullHD recording at 1920 x 1080. All of this is powered by a 1170 mAh battery and for software, it runs Android 4.3 on which they’ve added their own “ZenUI” interface, but ASUS claims it will be upgraded to Android 4.4 Kit Kat in the near future.
The tablet side of the device consists of a 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 and an additional 2100 mAh battery, pushing the grand total of battery juice to 3270mAh.
ASUS has not released any information regarding pricing of the device, however, we do know that it will be available somewhere in Q2 of 2014 in Europe and Asia. We hope it’s price won’t be too high, as its specs are somewhat modest when put alongside other smartphones, but the company does receive points for creativity.
VivoTab Note 8 – the 8″ Windows 8 tablet
Joining the 8-inch tablet race, ASUS will be represented by the VivoTab Note 8, a Windows 8 tablet which is powered by a quad-core Intel Bay-Trail Atom Z3740 processor with 2 GB of RAM and for storage, users can have up to 64 GB of space by using a microSD card. Free unlimited cloud storage is also provided by ASUS for 1 year.
The device also comes with a 5 MP rear camera and a HD from shooter, but no HDMI-out port is available. The key-feature of the VivoTab Note 8 is the Wacom digitizer stylus that comes with it, and another notable notable mention is the Microsoft Office Home and Student bundle which is pre-installed.
If you’re interested in the ASUS VivoTab Note 8, the device will be available in late Q1 of 2014 with prices starting at $299 for the 32GB model and $349 for the 64GB version.
ZenFone 4, 5 and 6
At CES 2014, ASUS has launched a brand new series of devices dubbed the ZenFone. Three devices call this line home, named after their screen sizes of 4, 5 and respectively 6 inches. ASUS has put the emphases on design, consisting of a custom Android 4.3 which ASUS name ZenUI. This operating system provides a better user experience, and overall improvements in performance.
On the performance front, the ZenFone 4 is, as you’ve might have guessed, the lowest specced device, having an Intel Atom 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and a 4-inch, 800 x 480 display. The ZenFone 4 features two cameras, front and back, the latter having a 5 MP resolution and it will be powered by a 1170 mAh battery. The device is available in a variety of colors: Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red and Champagne Gold. Although its specs might not seem very impressive, the device is aimed at the low cost market, costing only $100 contract-free.
In the mid-range, we find the ZenFone 5, a 5-inch device scoring 720p display, 2GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2580 CPU and its cameras have resolutions of 8 MP and 2 MP for the front shooter, all powered by a 2050 mAh battery. The rear camera benefits from image stabilization, backside illumination and ASUS PixelMaster technology. When compared to the 4-inch model, the ZenFone 5 is noticeable faster and more responsive, it features the same ZenUI interface and also comes in the same colors. Pricing for the device starts at $150 contract-free, which by some standards is still at the low-end of the pool.
Leading the pack is the ZenFone 6, which has the best specs of all the devices. It offers some improvements over the ZenFone 5, like a bigger battery of 3230 mAh battery, better optics, having a 2 MP HD front shooter and a 13 MP rear camera and ASUS SonicMaster audio technology. Its processor is the same as the ZenFone 5 as well as the 720p screen resolution, so in this regard, the ZenFone 5 has a better ppi count. Bluetooth 4.0 is also present, however, there is no LTE available on the device. ZenFone 6 comes in two versions of storage space, 8 and 16 GB, with the possibility of expanding this via the microSD card slot. Pricing starts at $200, which is a bargain if you ask me, and the device also comes in the same color schemes as the two others.
All three devices have GloveTouch technology, which allows users to fiddle with the smartphones while wearing gloves, as well as with PenTouch which gives owners the possibility to use a stylus. These devices run on Android 4.3 at this moment, but ASUS announced that they will be updated to 4.4 Kit Kat in the future. Also, all three device have 1 GB of RAM.
There was no word on availability in the US, however, we will be seeing them in Europe and Asia markets sometime soon.