ASUS CES 2010 Press Conferenceby Jarred Walton on January 5, 2010 3:30 PM EST
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ASUS CES 2010 Press Conference
For most of the past 15 years we've known ASUS as a large motherboard manufacturer for both the retail channel and behind the scenes for OEMs. Over the past few years ASUS has been transforming however.
The first step was spinning off the OEM business to a sister company - Pegatron. With the OEM business shifted elsewhere, ASUS could focus on building its own retail brand. Several years ago no one walking into a Best Buy would know the name ASUS, but today the Eee PC is found everywhere from Newegg to Best Buy and even Walmart.
The goal is simple. ASUS wants to become one of the top three portable PC vendors by 2011. In order to do so they need more than just the latest Intel processor inside its notebooks; ASUS needs to focus on design as well. At its CES 2010 press conference, ASUS did just that. It showed off four new notebooks with design as their major differentiator.
We start off with the ASUS G73Jh. This is a large gaming notebook equipped with a mobile Core i7 720QM and ATI's mobile Radeon HD 5870 - which isn't quite announced yet; details of the GPU to come in the "very near" future. :) The system also supports dynamic overclocking (beyond the standard i7 Turbo modes), ambient lighting, and dual HDDs with 1TB of total capacity. Above you can see the PowerPoint slides ASUS showed. The core concept is to take the G60 series and update the GPU, along with making a radically new design. ASUS says that the G73 is inspired by the Stealth fighter. The result is a more angular design, but more importantly we get to ditch the glossy surfaces and go with a nice matte black. The features are relatively high-end, so we'll be interested in seeing the final price; if ASUS can keep it close to the price of the G60Vx, we'll be very happy.
Next up we have the ASUS Eee PC Seashell. It wasn't too long ago that Dell commissioned several artists to design the surface panels for its notebooks. ASUS is taking the first step with Seashell. Designed by Karim Rashid, the Seashell line is basically a more distinct Pine Trail based Eee PC. Right now there are two planned designs, Hot Pink and Coffee Brown, and the design is includes more curves and soft-to-the-touch materials.
The ASUS U53 Bamboo is an Arrandale based notebook (mobile Core i5) that uses a Bamboo and plastic infused mold. It's ASUS' attempt to be socially conscious by reducing the amount of plastic used in the notebook and replacing it with an easily renewable resource (bamboo wood). ASUS has had bamboo products in the past, though it appears these are mostly focused on Asian markets. Also of note is that the U53 will include USB 3.0 support.
Lastly ASUS introduced its NX90 designed in cooperation with Bang & Olufsen's David Lewis. The machine is based on Intel's mobile Core i7. The differentiator here is the wider face equipped with two large B&O speakers. There are also two touchpads on the notebook, one on either side of the keyboard. The wrist-rest is made of polished aluminum. The overarching goal of the NX90 is to create a laptop that's more at home in the living room. While the notebook should work fine as a multimedia platform, complete with Blu-ray support, it's definitely not the sort of system you'd want to lug around on a regular basis. The LCD is already a large 18.4" panel, and the two large speakers turn this into something the size of a typical 22" LCD. The full slide presentation on the NX90 is available above.
Although not related to a shipping product, ASUS also unveiled its Waveface design concept. ASUS showed a video of various futuristic devices ranging from a wearable smartphone (Waveface Ultra) to an intelligent TV-like display (Waveface Casa). Almost all of them had some form of flexible display, although ASUS wouldn't go into details on exactly what technology it planned on using. The devices would pull data from the cloud, or it could be pushed to the devices depending on the environment (e.g. you might have ads pushed to your wearable smartphone as you walk through a mall - yep it's Minority Report). ASUS' CEO, Jonney Shih indicated that we could see devices like Waveface within the next 5 years.
Beyond the above laptops and other devices, ASUS also discussed new overclocked graphics card, a kid-centric nettop (the Eee PC MK90H), a 16.5mm thick 24" LCD with 50000:1 contrast (dynamic contrast, unfortunately), a wireless router, and a new videophone. ASUS may be spinning off the OEM business to Pegatron, but we expect to see plenty of new and interesting products from the company in the future.