FIRST LOOK

Asus Zen­fone AR bit.ly/asus430

Web User - - Need To Know -

At first glance, the Asus Zen­fone AR looks like a dif­fi­cult prod­uct to sell. It costs an eye-open­ing £800 and it doesn’t even come with the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of pro­ces­sor – and yet it’s an in­trigu­ing de­vice. It’s the first phone to be cer­ti­fied for the Google Tango aug­mented-re­al­ity (AR) and Google Day­dream vir­tual-re­al­ity ( VR) plat­forms, and as such it rep­re­sents an im­por­tant step for­wards for this tech­nol­ogy.

Hype aside, the Zen­fone AR is a pretty stan­dard An­droid smart­phone. It’s a big de­vice, with a 5.7in Su­per AMOLED dis­play, runs An­droid 7 Nougat and has a Snap­dragon 821 pro­ces­sor with 6GB of RAM. Its main sell­ing point is the rather com­pli­cated cam­era clus­ter on the rear of the phone. This con­sists of two cam­era lenses (one for cap­tur­ing im­age data, the other for cap­tur­ing mo­tion), an in­frared laser aut­o­fo­cus sen­sor and an in­frared depth-sens­ing cam­era, and of­fers an im­pres­sive res­o­lu­tion of 23-megapix­els. It’s these three cam­eras when used to­gether that un­leash the Tango ex­pe­ri­ence. The phone uses its sen­sors to place dig­i­tal ob­jects in real-world scenes and to bring the real world into the dig­i­tal arena. On one level, it’s pretty fri friv­o­lous. There are var­i­ous games you can try that place vir­tual el­e­ments on nearby sur­faces, in­clud­ing Sca Scalex­tric-style tracks on the floor. Mor More prac­ti­cal apps are also avail­able to down­load from the Google Tango app app, how­ever. For ex­am­ple, you can mea mea­sure items in the dis­tance with­out a mmea­sur­ing tape, and aim the cam­era at walls, floors and ceil­ings to cre­ate a quick floor plan.

The ques­tion, then, is whether any­one would pay £800 for a phone just to use these apps. The an­swer is prob­a­bly no. It’s an in­ter­est­ing demon­stra­tion of a very in­trigu­ing new tech­nol­ogy, but with­out the killer app to com­ple­ment it, you’re bet­ter off con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting the best phone you can for your money, rather than an ex­pen­sive one that cur­rently of­fers lit­tle more than nov­elty value.

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