Asus to launch inexpensive Chromebook, new phones in early 2014

Asus Chromebook 2014 vs HP Chromebook 11 vs Acer C720
Asus Chromebook to tackle HP Chromebook 11 (left) and Acer C720 (right)

Asus isn't going to release its first Chromebook by the end of this year, but when the laptop does get here in early 2014 it will likely be cheap and should launch around the same time as a few new smartphones.

As reported by the Taipei Times, Asus CEO Jerry Shen let investors in on the company's new year product plans, including its first laptop running Chrome OS. The Asus Chromebook is expected to include Intel's battery-saving Haswell processor just like the Chrome hardware from the other A-company, the Acer C720.

Asus' Chromebook specs remain a mystery, but it may be cheaper with a tentative price of $199 (about £194, AU$213) for the 11.6-inch model and $249 (about £155, AU$267) for the 13.3-inch model, reported the Taipei Times.

If these prices hold, it would mean the 11-inch Acer C720 would be more expensive than the 11-inch Asus Chromebook and the same price as Asus' 13-inch version.

It would also best the price of the recently launched (and temporarily discontinued) Google-powered HP Chromebook 11.

Asus smartening up its phones

Asus is still very much in the computer hardware business, but as the PC market contracts, it's now trying to ramp up its smartphone line to fill the void.

"We remain optimistic about the desktop and laptop market," said Asustek Chief Financial Officer David Chang, as reported by the Times.

"But our priority is to make the company's smartphone business turn a profit next year."

That priority should take center stage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, where Asus is planning to unveil new smartphones.

Among the Asus mobile device announcements could be the confirmed smartphone MeMOFone HD5. While Asus talked smartphones with investors, we wouldn't be surprised if the PadFone mini tablet will made a Vegas debut as well.

Matt Swider