Asus ZenBook UX305: looks good, but is there substance?

asus-ux305-front

It’s ultra slim line. It’s aimed at professionals on the go, and it weighs just 1.2kg. The Asus ZenBook UX305 certainly sounds like it could have potential for those who work on the move, but what to the critics think?

When it comes to laptops, CNET isn’t always the forthcoming in sounding the merits. When therefore the technology review site use several complementary adjectives to describe a new gadget, we are compelled to sit up and read on.

In their hands on review of the UX305, CNET says they were impressed by the ZenBook’s slim frame, which, measuring just 12.3 mm thick and weighing a mere 2.6 pounds, is one of the slimmest laptops going.

Furthermore, with its all-aluminium frame, the UX305 both looks and feels “like a luxurious piece of kit,” continue CNET.

With an Intel Core M processor and 8GB of RAM inside its skinny frame, there should be plenty of oomph to keep Windows 8.1 “ticking along nicely,” CNET continues.

Will it impress amidst the business lounge elite?

Whilst impressed by its slightness and memory, assets that CNET believe will be attractive to business users on the go, the review’s only doubt is whether or not the UX305 will look the part when pulled out of a briefcase in a business lounge.

Throwing another view of the design of the ZenBook, the Ultra Book Review of the UX305 deems the device as sleek-looking, keeping the familiar lines of Zenbooks but with the added intrigue of concentric circle patterns on the lid and bevelled sides on the darker finishing but chromed elements on the white one. Sounds like Asus have at least tried to provide some intricacy on the UX305’s design.

On a less positive note, the Ultra Book Review is quick to point out that the UX305’s footprint seems to be pretty similar as the UX301 and, asides its being slimmer, there is nothing particularly new to shout about with the UX305.

Fan-less hardware

The pros of the Asus ZenBook according to this review are it strong and beautiful build, packed with a great matte display, its fan-less hardware and that it’s fast enough for everyday use.

Its cons are the fact it’s void of a backlit keyboard, it can get a tad overheated, its Wi-Fi is a little slow and the trackpad is prone to glitches.

Pocket Lint is quick to point out the Asus ZenBook UX305’s price – £649.99.

The technology site seem impressed with the device’s 128GB solid state disk drive and its resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

On the downside, Pocket Lint seems a little disappointed that despite being available to two colours – a silky-smooth Ceramic Alloy shade and an Obsidian Stone with ZenBook’s signature spun-metal finish, the UK only has the latter version!

asus-ux305-back

All in all, if you’re after a lightweight and fairly stylish ZenBook that has all-day battery and powerful productivity and you are willing to part with £650, with the Asus ZenBook UX305 you could be on to a winner.

Asus’ ZenWatch delves into wearable tech: what do the critics think?

zenwatch

Not content sticking with laptops, tablets and smartphones, Asus is broadening its horizons and is moving on to wearable technology, starting with the ZenWatch.
The Asus ZenWatch pairs with an Android smartphone to serve as a personal wellness manager. Despite its high-tech capabilities the ZenWatch resembles a rectangular-faced and traditional-crafted watch and even comes with a premium, stitched-leather strap.

It might look like an elegant piece of premium watchmaking, but how does Asus’ bold move into wearable tech fare with the tech press?

An Apple Watch likeness

According to Tech Crunch, the ZenWatch is the closest the Android camp have come to resembling an Apple Watch. It is however, you may be pleased to learn, by no means a clone.
The ZenWatch’s pros are, according to Tech Crunch, its great design which is “among the most striking and unique Android Wear devices available.”
We have to admit, with its curved face with Gorilla Glass 3 surrounded by a polished rectangular stainless steel rim, clasped together by a quality leather strap, the ZenWatch possesses retro appeal.
Latest Gadgets is not however a fashion review site and whilst it might look good what can the ZenWatch actually do?
Well you can get notifications from your Android smartphone. Something Engadget refers to as an “incessant flow of information in the form of Google Now cards and notifications.”
The Engadget review of the ZenWatch is also quick to highlight Asus’ wearable device boasts “impeccable voice recognition”, has a tap-and-swipe friendly navigation and all the other bits we’ve come to expect from a smartwatch.

The ZenWatch Manager

Though it’s from a separate Android app known as the ZenWatch Manager which all these “other bits” lean on. As Engadget informs, from the ZenWatch Manager you can customise the colours on the watch face and fire up extras, such as a warning alert that warns you when wondered too far from your phone.

The Wellness manager uses a built-in bio sensor which enables the phone to measure relaxation levels and then report back a relaxation score to its user. Based on that score, the watch then proceeds to provide the user with tips on how to reduce stress and increase relaxation and wellness.

Via the Wellness app, you can set activity goals, such as a target number of steps each day. The ‘wellness’ stats are then presented to the user in a weekly summary.

And the downsides?

One downside of the ZenWatch, according to Pocket Lint’s review, is that there is no direct charging available. Instead, it needs to be attached to a “limpet-like charging base that connects to the back.”
The Verge is also quick to point out the ZenWatch’s lack of wireless charging capabilities. Not only this but, like most Android Wear devices, it needs to be charged pretty much every day.
Whilst on the whole The Verge believes the ZenWatch performs as well as any other Android Wear Watch, the tech review site is certainly not shy in mentioning the watch’s annoying attributes.

According to The Verge’s review, the Asus smartwatch can be “annoyingly slow” at times, isn’t as responsive to voice commands as the Moto 360, and has a poor response to the wrist motion to wake up the display.

Though The Verge has to admit, despite its faults and imperfections, if they had to choose an Android Wear watch to wear every day, the would choose the ZenWatch.

zenwatch-side

And being this feature-rich and well-designed, for £199.99 we might be inclined to agree.

The Zenwatch is available now. Visit Asus to find out more.

 

 

Best of Computex 2013

Asus-Transformer

Running until June 8, Taiwan’s largest consumer electronics show Computex is taking place this week with over 1,700 exhibitors showing off their wares – here’s what caught our eye.

Asus unveiled yet more post-pc devices, with their newly announced Transformer Book Trio. It’s the world’s first three-in-one mobile device. The device has a detachable 11.6-inch display and comes with dual operating systems. The device can switch from Windows 8 notebook to Android tablet to Windows 8 desktop – a world first for a hybrid tablet/notebook.

The Transformer Book Trio switches easily between operating systems to give users access to over 700,000 Android apps on Google’s Play Store and access to 50,000 Windows apps from Microsoft’s app store.

Despite running two different operating systems, ASUS has spent a lot time making switching between the two systems a pain-free as possible, allowing users to sync data or continue to surf the web when moving from notebook to tablet mode.

The PC station comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, full QWERTY keyboard, 750GB of internal storage and, when the tablet is detached it can be connected to an external display for us as a full desktop PC. The PC dock serves as a charger for the tablet so to extend its battery life, whilst, the tablet-side of the device features a 2.0 GHz Intel Atom processor, 16:9 full HD 1920 x 1080 screen and up to 64GB internal flash storage.

Sonotar-Smart-Watch

Sonostar e-ink watches

Wearable technology is likely to be big growth industry in the coming years, with everyone from Apple and Google looking into the burgeoning technology. E Ink, the company behind the screen technology for a variety of e-readers including Amazon’s Kindle, announced a brand-new e-ink display and collaboration with Sonostar for a second-screen watch that connects to your smartphone or tablet.

E ink’s new 1.73-inch touchscreen display comes with resolution of 320 x 240 and is capable of producing 16 levels of greyscale. Obviously e-ink screens aren’t colour screens. And while this might seem like a massive oversight, e-ink technology actually has several benefits over colour screens. The technology is incredibly frugal when it comes to power consumption compared to coloured screens, and they’re a lot easier to read in direct sunlight compared to normal colour screens.

The Sonostar Smart Watch connects to either your iPhone or Android device using Bluetooth, and displays information on calls, messages, social networking updates, and emails. Also, the screen is flexible which means the watch face doesn’t have to be flat, allowing Sonostar to craft a watch that better matches the curve of your arm.

The Sonostar Smart Watch is set to be released sometime after the summer, and has been priced at £100 for either the black or white models.

Nvidia-Project-Shield

Project Shield, Nvidia

Chipset maker Nvidia were at Computex, too, showing off their new handheld Android-powered games console: Shield (yes, they’re dropping the “project” part from the name). Shield consists of a console game controller with a flip-up display housing a pin sharp 5-inch, 720p, multi-touch display.

Powering Shield is Nvidia’s Tegra 4 mobile processor with a quad-core CPU, 72 GPU cores, and 2GB of RAM. The handheld also carries 16GB of onboard storage and features GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, a mini-HDMI output, micro-USB 2.0, a microSD storage slot for memory expansion, and an 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack. Shield runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean and can play both Tegra-optimised and regular Android games – as well as having access to Android’s 700,000 non-gaming apps. Nvidia has said it’s working on streaming your favorite PC games to Shield, too, including titles from Steam in the near future.

Asus-Monitor

ASUS Ultra HD PC screen

At Computex ASUS showcased the world’s first Ultra HD PC monitors. The new 31.5-inch monitor costs a not unreasonable £2,500 and comes with a staggering resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 – four times as many pixels as a standard 1080p PC monitor. The company is also going to be prepping a 39-inch version too. ASUS expects to begin shipping the 31.5-inch model in June, with its big brother will follow sometime in Q3.

Acer-Phone

Acer Iconia W3

Acer were at Computex and are the first company to unveil a smaller form factor Windows 8 tablet. The 8-inch Iconia W3 comes with a 1280 x 800 display. On the tablet-side of things there’s front- and rear-facing two-megapixel cameras, plus connectivity through Bluetooth 4.0 and micro-USB.

The Iconia is packing impressive specs considering its size; there’s an Intel dual-core 1.8GHz Atom Z2760 processor, and the choice of either 32 or 64GB of internal storage, which can supplemented via the tablet’s microSD expansion slot. There’s also a built-in micro-HDMI for outputting the screen onto larger screens.

ASUS’s slew of Windows 8 gadgets: Intuitive and impressive but what about the price?

VivoTab-TF600T

The run up to Christmas is traditionally a time when the techno manufacturers have a field day in launching and feverishly marketing their latest wares. This year’s pre-festive season gadgetry marketing hype is especially banal as in coinciding with the arrival of the ultra-anticipated Windows 8, means that the gadgets arriving between now and Christmas have been honed to compliment to the widely-hyped Windows 8.

And none so more than ASUS’s latest range of devices, created somewhat predictably with Windows 8 at the core. Here’s a snippet of four of the best from ASUS’s latest range.

VivoTab

ASUSVivoTab RT

ASUS has launched its first Windows RT tablet, which in featuring a mobile dock, transforms the tablet into a notebook, for, ASUS assure us, increased productivity and longer battery life.

A close collaboration between ASUS and Microsoft has resulted in the arrival of one of the first Windows RT tablets on the market. Whilst internally the VivioTab RT is powerful and robust concealing a potent NVIDIA Tegra3 quad-core processor and 63GB of onboard storage, aesthetically the VivioTab RT is sleek, streamlined and lightweight.

Its spec, capabilities and design certainly sound impressive, although ASUS have not yet mentioned any pricings for the VivioTab RT.

Taichi

TAICHI

Bragging a novel back to back design by simply lifting a finger, users can switch, we are assured, ‘seamlessly’, between a multi-touch tablet and a fully featured tablet.

In featuring a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with 4GB of memory, Intel HD 4000 graphics and a choice of 256GB SSD storage, dual-band Wi-Fi with Intel WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0, we can’t deny that the ASUS TAICHI certainly sounds impressive, although ASUS have once again failed to provide us with any hints about the cost of its uniquely fused notebook and tablet creation.

ZENBOOK

Expanding its range of sleek ZENBOOK ultraportables, ASUS has announced the arrival of the expanded ZENBOOK range, which features models with 11.6”, 13.3”, 14” and 15.6” full HD displays. Boasting a choice of 3rd generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, ASUS’s latest ZENBOOK range promise outstanding multi-tasking performance, up to 10GB of memory and powerful NVIDIA GT graphics.

PadFone

ASUS PadFone 2

We also can’t deny that ASUS’s original PadFone, which combines an Android smartphone with a dockable tablet was a blinding, award winning success, so why shouldn’t the digital era giants build on the success of its successes?

Doing just this is the PadFone 2 which, ASUS inform, consists of a higher specification quad core, LET equipped smartphone and a completely redesigned tablet. What does sound particularly impressive about the PadFone 2 is its mega long battery life which provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, a far cry from the iPhone which seems to require charging after spending a few minutes on Facebook.

“It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and, best of all, it’s intuitive,” ASUS’s chairman Jonney Shih brags at an ASUS press conference in Milan, and who are we to argue, but what about the blinkin price!?

See more on the PadFone 2 here.

ASUS PadFone 2: Two Become One

Asus have unveiled the PadFone 2, the follow-up to the successful original PadFone. Combining an Android smartphone and a dockable tablet for ultimate mobile flexibility, this new PadFone model comes with a range of specifications designed to improve performance and improve the user experience.

PadFone

If you’re wondering what a PadFone is, it’s one of the latest technology trends. The PadFone 2 is a fully-featured 4.7” Android smartphone that docks with the PadFone 2 station to become a 10.1” tablet. The phone’s apps support both tablet and phone modes, and can instantly transition between the two. This lets you switch seamlessly from using the phone to using the tablet with minimum interruption.

The original PadFone has already turned heads, and combines the best features of the two devices. Speaking at a press event in Milan, Italy, ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled PadFone 2, explaining: “Our relentless drive to innovate through our ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy has empowered us to create PadFone 2. It’s beautiful, it’s fast and, best of all, it’s intuitive.”

Impressive Specs

The new PadFone 2 comes with higher specs and added features, as well as a completely redesigned tablet. The combined tablet and phone weighs in at just 649g – lighter than most tablets on the market – and the new model enjoys a slightly larger screen with reduced thickness and weight.

ASUS have also improved the attachment and detachment mechanism for this PadFone, and it now requires just one swift motion to use.

The new PadFone enjoys a long battery life, with the phone component providing up to 16 hours 3G talk time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, and the PadFone 2 Station providing up to 36 hours 3G talk time. One of the most useful features of this gadget is that the PadFone 2 Station’s battery has enough capacity to recharge the docked phone three times in a single charge.

The device’s 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor and its 2GB of RAM promise users top quality speed and performance in both smartphone and tablet modes. The phone’s 1280 x 720 HD Super IPS+ display uses scratch-resistant Corning Fit Glass for protection and provides sharp, detailed images with accurate colors – even when you’re viewing the screen outdoors.

Attractive Features

The PadFone 2 comes with all the features you’d expect from a combined smartphone and tablet, including a 13-megapixel high-performance camera with no shutter lag. The camera has several different modes, including Burst mode, which captures up to 100 shots at a speedy rate of six shots per second while simultaneously recording HD video.

Both the phone and the Station offer top-grade sound quality, provided by the ASUS SonicMaster technology and partnership with the Technical Grammy award-winning Waves company.

PadFone 2 users get to take advantage of ASUS’ WebStorage free for two years. The two devices have shared mobile connectivity, so you only need one plan to use the PadFone 2 and the PadFone 2 station.

Business users will love the new version of SuperNote, which allows you to convert hand-written notes in multiple languages into editable text. The instant translation tool also converts any word, phrase or sentence in an email, web page or app with a single touch and without the need to download third-party software.

PadFone 2 is expected to hit UK shops early next year, with a more specific release date coming soon.

Asus EEE Pad Slider: Plenty of playtime

Business notebook purists, who sneer balefully at early corporate adopters of tablets, often argue that without a keyboard, a tablet has no real value as a part of the mobile corporate armoury. Well, those purists might now be eating their words, as clearly, this tablet means business in both senses of the word.

EEE-Pad-Slider

Coming hot on the heels of its well received Eee Pad Transformer, the super slim, super light dockable tablet that bridged the gap between notebooks and tablets, Asus has announced an EeePad  Slider version that conceals a full QWERTY keyboard about its very person.

Not content with hiding a keyboard under its skirt, the EeePad Slider also features ten finger multi touch support including pinching and sliding, a 10.1” toughened scratch resistant display, NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core processor and Android 3.1 upgradable to 3.2 (available through FOTA). And, like its older sister, the Eee Pad Slider features a mini HDMI output, pre loaded Polaris Office 3 (a suite of office tools that support reading and editing PowerPoint, Word and Excel) and a 178 degree wide viewing angle so it’s quite capable of holding its own for a desk based presentation.

But it’s not all about work, there’s plenty of playtime built in too; two cameras, a 5 MP in the rear and 1.2 MP in the front, Adobe Flash, a Micro SD reader and the use of Asus’ Waveface interface. This incorporates MyNET for streaming media to wifi devices around the house, MyLibrary A clever way to consolidate your books and magazines. Supporting PDF and ePub formats, it offers a set of handy utilities including a dictionary, translator, bookmarker, notes and text-to-speech and finally MyCloud for web storage and downloadable music and video.

The Eee Pad Slider is available with 16g at £429.99 or 32g at £479.99

Asus appeals to wannabe supercar owners with its latest ‘lap’ top

If you like high performance from your cars, chances are you’d be pretty keen to get it from your laptop to. We guess that’s the thinking that goes on at Asus, as it has brought out a high-performance laptop inspired by an Italian supercar – this time it’s the ASUS-Automobili Lamborghini VX7.

Asus-Automobile

Looks-wise, it had been designed to catch the eye, with its orange and black carbon fibre coat – designed to echo the colours of the legendary Italian powerhouse. Each curve, edge and design feature has been carefully thought out to be reminiscent of the sleek designs of high-end cars – the power button looks like an engine start key, while the cooling vents on the rear of the machine are designed to be reminiscent of the supercar’s taillights.

Palm rests are trimmed in leather and the whole thing is made is light yet sturdy aluminium. It all sounds like it just exudes the word ‘quality’. But looks and design are one thing – can it step up to the starting grid when it comes to what’s underneath the hood?

Naturally, Asus has packed it full of horsepower, to provide turbo-charged performance for hardcore gaming and multimedia. Under the bonnet is a quad-core 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor, and it is the first notebook to use the NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX 460M GPU, offering native DirectX® 11 – plus there’s 3GB of video memory to get the best out of any action-packed games and movies.

The ASUS-Automobili Lamborghini VX7 also has dual 7,200rpm 750GB hard drives providing a total of 1.5TB or storage. And the price for all this? £1,999 – pretty pricey, but considerably less than an Italian supercar.

Acer’s new Aspire Ethos series

If you are in the market for a new laptop and are willing to spend about a grand, you may be interested in reading about Acer’s new Aspire Ethos series. Being marketed as “multimedia enjoyment redefined”, the Aspire Ethos certainly has a lot to aspire to, and after reading its press release, Acer’s latest series unquestionably sounds impressive.

Acer-AspireEthos

Eye-popping visuals are becoming an inherent component of modern multimedia technology, and the new Aspire Ethos series, with its sleek frameless CineCrystal Full HD and HD displays, is most definitely designed to provide an eye-popping visual experience, whilst its full DirectX 11 creates a superior gaming performance with incredibly realistic effects and crisp, lifelike imagery.

In accordance with the Aspire Ethos stunning visual experience, is its audio capabilities. In featuring the professionally-tuned Dolby Home Theatre v4 , the volume output is maximised, whilst the Aspire Ethos 8951G audio quality is augmented further with Acer CineSurround with five Dolby-tuned built-in speakers and Acer Tuba CineBass subwoofer supporting low-frequency effects and vibrant audio for, as Acer puts it, “for the ultimate movie enjoyment”.

Whilst the emphasis on the eye-popping, immersive and wholly engaging multimedia experience of the new Ethos series may sound pretty impressive, what particularly impressed me whilst reading the Acer Aspire Ethos press release was the paragraph about the laptop’s detachable touchpad that doubles as a MediaRemote. Given that I was one of those sad individuals that was really impressed when TVs came out in the late 80s, which, when you pressed a button its remote control popped out, I have always been secretly partial to ‘surreptitious’ technology with dual functions. Not only can the MediaRemote, cunningly disguised as a touchpad, create a convenient multimedia and content experience at a distance, which takes control and ergonomics to a new level, but a built-in orientation sensor enables the touchpad to be used either horizontally or vertically.

Aesthetically, there seems to be a little less to celebrate compared to the new Aspire Ethos series internal functions, as judging by the photographs these new laptops just look like any ‘bog-standard’ black laptop, albeit with a glossy finish. Although Acer tell a different story insisting that the Ethos series flaunt a total black look with contrasting matte and glossy surfaces that “oozes style from every angle”.

There’s no doubt that if you are looking to buy a new laptop at the top end of the market, Acer’s new Aspire Ethos range, starting at £999.99, should be in the running. As by providing dynamic processing power we don’t doubt that these highly sophisticated laptops will make their mark on the concept of home entertainment and multimedia performance.