The PC market might be recovering, but the 25% average market growth in the third quarter of last year means only one thing to Asus CEO Jonney Shih: a great comparison for the 56% that Asus delivered.
"We are well on our way to our goal to be one of the top three portable PC vendors by 2011," Shih promises. And the secret isn't just selling lots of netbooks: "the key to this level of leadership and performance is the Asus innovation".
Shih points to innovations in the new Asus PCs announced at CES. The NX90 that Asus developed with B&O "is the first notebook with speakers outside of the product, and the first notebook with a second touchpad".
Incidentally, he said the dual touchpad was popular in focus groups because it suits both left and right-handed users, but Asus hasn't designed a custom user interface to take advantage of it. And the surround sound, he claims "translates to having the best seats in the house".
Rocking USB 3.0
The "trendy but responsible" bamboo-covered U-53 notebook is also the first Asus machine with USB 3.
"Implementing the USB 3.0 extreme ten-times speed makes transferring videos and pictures faster than ever," says Shih; "it will even accelerate your USB peripheral charge time".
And the bamboo is applied with a completely new manufacturing process that takes into account both the fact that the thermal expansion coefficient of the bamboo is quite different from that of the plastics and aluminium and that bamboo has to be screened for parasites.
Thermal management and the Stealth bomber are responsible for the angles on the ROG G73Jh gaming machine that Shih calls "a next generation mobile powerhouse".
Last year Shih showed off the origami-inspired Airo concept PC with an ergonomic tilted keyboard that also improved air flow; the G73 has a keyboard with a five degree angle and what he calls "beautiful angles and shapes" for streamlined aerodynamics.
"Moving the heat generation sources to the back side of the system and developing a dual fan system draws cool air from the front and putting exhaust cooling vents in back means a cool working surface and heat is directed away from the user".
COOL: Jonney Shih and the thermal management innovation of the ROG G73Jh gamers' notebook
This year's concept, Waveface, isn't so much a new style of PC as a new style of computing. The clue is in the name, says Shih. "The wave is how we try to describe the information flow, the face is part of the interface; the whole concept is that we have to grab the megatrend of mobile life and natural user interface. Today nobody argues about the fact that mobile life and natural user interface is the megatrend of the new digital era."
Shih showed images of three devices: "these are three different kind of screens - one on the wrist, one like the current notebook and another bigger one like the TV screen – and three different types of innovation".
The Waveface Ultra would be a wearable smartphone with a touch screen that unfolds to a flat screen, or you can control it with 3D gestures like tapping your fingers.
The Wavefave Light flexible display looks like a notebook with a tactile keyboard, but when you fold it flat it would turn into a large touch screen that you can share with someone sitting opposite you (like a portable Microsoft Surface).
And the Waveface Casa would be a big-screen TV that would sync relevant information from your Ultra and Light devices via the cloud. The point of all three devices is to filter information so you get what's useful and relevant based on where you are and what you're doing:
Shih calls it "the right information at the right time - you have a lot of information and the question is how to filter that information and only get what you need."
Flexible display technology is only one of the pieces needed to turn a concept like Waveface into reality; the real key is the services to provide this kind of contextual information.
"Cloud computing is already there but how to advance that and them combine all those together to really provide user with the right level of convenience to get the information they want and how it will be filtered – that's still in research," admits Shih.
"Maybe it's five years away. Maybe it's possible to achieve that depending on how we might have the breakthrough."
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