Computex 2013 kicked off with a bang – or rather, an onslaught of tiny bangs, as Asia’s biggest hardware expo was greeted with an unexpected bout of hail coming through Taipei.
The star of this year’s show was without a doubt ASUS, the Taiwan-based OEM. Whereas domestic rivals Acer and HTC have struggled to find their voices in the post-PC era, ASUS has attracted some attention for innovating amidst an uncertain climate for PC and smartphone makers.
Europe’s leading tech festival
TNW Conference is back for its 12th year. Reserve your 2-for-1 ticket voucher now.
At the heart of ASUS’ offerings this year was the Transformer Book Trio. ASUS touts this as the world’s first three-in-one, PC-notebook-tablet device. Most notably, the Tranformer Book Trio runs on both Android and Windows 8, a first for any device on the market.
The photo below should give one an idea of what the Transformer Book Trio is all about:
As the display suggests, the tablet can function independently, and can also be connected to the standalone keyboard, which also controls the monitor.
ASUS also announced the launch of several other products, the most interesting of which were the MemoPad HD7 and the VivoMouse.
The MemoPad HD7 is a lightweight Android tablet which retails at a staggeringly low $149 for the 16GB version, and $129 for 8GB in emerging markets.
ASUS’ VivoMouse is a mouse that doubles as a sophisticated trackpad with remote sensing and gesture support.
ASUS’ signature PadFone Infinity was also on display. If the demo below is any indication, the Transformer Book Trio ought to switch modes just as seamlessly.
While ASUS fully delivered on longtime rumors that it would come out swinging at this year’s Computex, others used the event as an opportunity to prolong ongoing gossip.
Many speculated that Mozilla and Firefox would officially announce the first Firefox OS tablet at the conference. While Young Liu of Foxconn and Li Gong of Mozilla indeed revealed a tablet device bearing Mozilla’s signature Firefox logo, no details on specs, pricing, market strategy, or release date were disclosed. The press conference was a tease, but at least we got a glimpse at a prototype.
Taiwan-based OEM Acer announced a refreshed version of its Aspire S7 Ultrabook, as well as the launch of the Windows-powered Iconia W3 tablet (pictured below), complete with full support for Microsoft Office. Acer touted the tablet as a one-hand device, though the relatively large size of the tablet coupled with the awkwardly-sized keyboard puts this firmly in two-handed territory.
It wouldn’t be an Asian expo without a fashion-show style presentation, and for those interested in such things, Acer stepped up to the plate, adding a runway to its booth space.
Intel drew a steady flux of visitors to its space as users tested out Haswell, the company’s new line of processors.
Microsoft had the most interactive, creative show space at Computex. Whereas most vendors focused their displays solely on products, Microsoft distinguished itself by emphasizing the humans that use them. At the booth’s entry point, portrait artists painted digital renditions of guests.
With just a small portion of the space dedicated to showing flagship, consumer-oriented products, the majority of Microsoft’s booth exhibited uses for embedded Windows software, particularly in the health and wellness spaces. Below is a bedside monitor made in collaboration with Taiwan-based Advantech.
Note the prominence of Microsoft’s signature tile-design. Below is a Windows template for patient record-keeping.
Microsoft also showed off a treadmill with a Windows-based system built into its navigation system. Runners interact with the software to access Facebook, YouTube, and other services, and can even open a virtual-reality style visualization of their workout.
Computex 2013 was a little lacking in the curiosity department. While visitors were treated to an endless number of generic tablet devices, there were few gadgets on display that elicited shock or awe. One item that did catch our eye, however, was Genius‘s Ring Mouse 2.
While not as high-profile as the Pebble or the iWatch, Genius’s device has enough functionality to join the ranks of the next generation of wearable devices. More than just a clicker for presentations, users can manipulate the Ring Mouse 2 to navigate through a program’s entire interface.
If you’re not impressed by any of the devices pictured above, worry not. We present to you all, the crown jewel of Computex 2013: the Tony Stark mouse, from E-3lue! Indeed, it’s a mouse, designed to replicate the head of Iron Man himself.
The range of products at Computex 2013 served as an illustration of how electronic devices are undergoing hybridization. Your TV can be a PC, your PC can be a notebook, your notebook can be a tablet, your tablet can be a phone.
At the same time, hybridization does not equal creation, and this year’s celebration of hybrid devices leads one to wonder, “Is that all there is to it?”
Hybridization is great, but what we’ve yet to see is progress in the depth of function of these devices. The PadFone Infititity is a phone that can turn into a tablet. But can your phone also be a coffee machine? An air conditioner? A car?
Right now, our computers fit into other computers. If Computex 2013 marked the apex of hybridization, at the Computex in five years from now, expect to see computers that “fit in” to things that aren’t computers at all.