ASUS

PC & Tech Authority - - COMPUTEX FEATURE -

While this year’s Computex was chal­leng­ing for many com­po­nent com­pa­nies, with no sig­nif­i­cant new moth­er­board ac­tiv­ity and noth­ing what­so­ever on the graph­ics card front, Asus stormed it any­way with both the largest and most im­pres­sive dis­play of them all.

THE SU­PER PHONE

We started Computex on Mon­day night with the as-al­ways crazy ROG event which was big on lights, lasers and spec­ta­cle. The most un­usual prod­uct was the ROG Phone. It’s a gam­ing phone, and Asus has gone all-out with both its specs and de­sign, as well as a big set of pe­riph­er­als. In­side is an over­clocked (!) and cherry picked (!!) Qual­comm SD845 octa-core CPU run­ning at 2.96GHz. Keep­ing it cool is a lap­top-style va­por-cham­ber cool­ing sys­tem with lots of cop­per. Graph­ics are han­dled by an Adreno 630 GPU and Asus claim it’s up to 30% more power ef­fi­cient – and – with 2.5 times the graph­ics band­width of stock hard­ware.

An al­most un­heard of 8GB of mem­ory is on­board, with up to 512GB of stor­age. Its Wi-Fi is next-gen 802.11ad – mak­ing it the first con­sumer de­vice we’ve seen that sup­ports that stan­dard. The out­ra­geous specs con­tinue with a 90Hz AMOLED screen that sup­ports HDR.

But this is more than just chunky hard­ware and a ‘gam­ing’ moniker. There’s a spe­cial on-screen vir­tual con­trol pad sys­tem and top fin­ger but­tons of the sort you’ll find on any con­sole con­trol pad, and if you de­sire more con­trol you can buy a dock that has a sec­ond screen built-in of ex­actly the same specs – think a Nin­tendo DS on steroids – and in­side the dock is a 6000mAh bat­tery. Mega.

You can also buy a cool­ing unit – not for the CPU or GPU – but for your sweaty palms.

It blows air out­wards

to your hands and felt rather nice in my brief test­ing. That ac­ces­sory also dou­bles as a USB con­nec­tor, di­rect­ing the ca­ble down in­stead on the tra­di­tional top or bot­tom where it would get in the way. And, there’s a Mo­bile Desk­top Dock for play­ing on your PC screen as well, plus, a Wigig dock us­ing 60Hz Wi-Fi to trans­mit the dis­play to your TV.

Yes, the en­tire setup is mon­strous, Asus has gone hard cov­er­ing ev­ery base and more with this thing and the only pos­si­ble short­com­ing is likely the price, which we don’t know yet, or, if in­deed it will come to Aus­tralia, though we ex­pect many en­ter­pris­ing gamers to some­how ac­quire this, and soon.

BIG­GER GAM­ING

For those who care not for hand­held gam­ing there was a new ROG desk­top PC. The ROG Hu­ra­can (Asus re­ally is on top of the fear­some-sound­ing nam­ing game), which has a funky mag­net­i­cally at­tached fold­ing side panel for when your GPU wants to suck air like a Vey­ron. A pair of new gam­ing lap­tops de­buted, too, both al­most iden­ti­cal in spec, fea­tur­ing the same i7-8750 CPU and 144Hz screen. The Scar II is pri­mar­ily for FPS play­ers and has an Nvidia 1070 in­side and key­board op­ti­mised for WASDing, while the gen­eral pur­pose gam­ing Hero II sports a more stan­dard key­board and Nvidia 1060 GPU.

OUT­RA­GEOUS ROUTER

But get­ting back on track to ab­so­lute ex­tremes, there’s the ROG Rap­ture GT-AX1000 router. Be­sides be­ing big­ger and more im­pos­ing than any other hy­per-router seen so far, it’s also a 10 gi­ga­bit ma­chine – the world’s first – and nat­u­rally sup­ports the emerg­ing 802.11ax stan­dard. Be­ing an ROG prod­uct it’s op­ti­mised for gam­ing, and for that it has a ded­i­cated 2.5GBase-T port which gets pri­or­ity when used, with up to (claimed) 2.5 times nor­mal speed. Just in case you doubt this beast is ac­tu­ally pri­ori­tis­ing gam­ing when in use, it has a Game Boost but­ton on the top that makes sure game traf­fic re­ally is given max­i­mum through­put. On top of that there’s a thing called Gamers Pri­vate Net­work which, it’s claimed, finds the short­est pos­si­ble route be­tween the game server you’re on and your home.

SUPERSCREENS

The star of the show was un­doubt­edly the su­per-specced One With Ev­ery­thing PG27UQ. Nick’s re­view starts on page 50 so I shan’t dwell on that, here.

Else­where, ROG has four new mon­i­tors, from the large 35in curved 100Hz 3440x1440 XG35VQ and 32in 144Hz 2560x1440 XG32VQ, to a pair of 24in and 25in screens (XG258Q and XG248Q) that run at an ex­treme 240Hz @ Full HD res­o­lu­tion.

Asus also showed a tricky clear plas­tic de­vice that dis­guises the bezel when us­ing triple screens. They promised a re­lease this year. MSI had an iden­ti­cal prod­uct last year that never made it to re­tail, as far as we know.

Re­mem­ber Philip Am­bi­light? The TVs that cast colours onto the wall be­hind to cre­ate a larger ‘colourscape’? Asus has a new thing like that for mon­i­tors, with a con­trol box run­ning up to three 90cm strips of LEDs.

NON-ROG ASUS

It was hard to de­fo­cus af­ter see­ing all the ROG good­ies, but once again Asus de­liv­ered some very cool reg­u­lar-per­son gear – which hap­pens to in­clude my per­sonal stand­out thing of the whole show. Let’s get to that first, then.

Zen Book is Asus’s top-end pre­mium lap­top brand, and this year we saw the new­est Zen Book Pro 15 – and it’s a beauty. In­side is a hexa-core i9, GTX 1050 Ti in Max-Q con­fig­u­ra­tion (rare for an ‘ex­ec­u­tive’ lap­top to pack an ac­tu­ally use­able dis­crete GPU!), a full ter­abyte of fast PCIE SSD and a proper serv­ing of 16GB RAM. Gi­ga­bit Wi-Fi and Thun­der­bolt 3, too. There’s a 4k screen with 100% Adobe RGB cov­er­age as well as Pan­tone cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to cap off the specs which are, clearly the best avail­able (GPU ex­cepted). All very good there.

There’s a slightly smaller Zen Book 14, with an i7 CPU and also 1050 graph­ics, just not the Ti va­ri­ety.

I SEE THE LIGHT

But the stun­ning bit is the to­tally new touch­pad. Each Zen Book Pro has a ‘smart touch­pad’, in which the en­tire 5.5in area is a sec­ondary dis­play with unique app and Win­dows con­trols. When in bor­ing use as a reg­u­lar touch­pad it does its job per­fectly, but drag down the tiny white line at the top and you have in­stant ac­cess to gen­uinely use­ful tools as the touch­pad trans­forms into a sec­ond screen. It takes but the mer­est mo­ment to bring it up, then dis­miss it again. The im­ple­men­ta­tion re­ally is slick and dare I say, flaw­less. As mun­dane as they are as tools, the cal­en­dar, cal­cu­la­tor and me­dia player make per­fect sense as killer apps on this magic lit­tle win­dow. A host of Win­dows set­tings are also avail­able. App sup­port for Word and Ex­cel was there too, with quick ac­cess to im­por­tant things, and Asus will be putting out a SDK for de­vel­op­ers to cre­ate their own apps, or app ex­ten­sions.

The idea is that you ac­cess it briefly, see or do what’s needed, then rapidly go back to reg­u­lar touch­pad use. App devs may cre­ate tools that sit there more or less con­stantly, or at least while you’re us­ing their main-screen app.

Had you told me of such a thing be­fore see­ing it in ac­tion my in­cli­na­tion would have been to con­sider it gim­micky. But Asus has un­veiled a to­tally ma­ture new tech­nol­ogy that will be trans­for­ma­tive. All I can say is “hey Ap­ple! Your mostly use­less Touch Bar? THIS is how it SHOULD be done!”.

ALSO NICE

While the smart touch­pad is so far lim­ited to the top range Zen Book Pro ma­chines, the new Zen Book S was im­pres­sive for of­fer­ing a slick por­ta­ble ma­chine. Also with a 4k screen, it has a funky hinge that sets the key­board at a nice typ­ing an­gle. In­side is an i7 and 1TB PCIE SSD, and out­side is a pair of Thun­der­bolt 3 ports. It looked very cool and comes in a range of arty colours.

Also colour­ful, and likely much cheaper, is the sim­pler Vivo Book range, be­ing 14 and 15in vari­ants. These are slim and light and ap­pear to be des­tined as work­horse ma­chines with a bit of style.

ALSO NEAT

Asus had a smart­watch that tracks

your blood pres­sure – the only one of its kind, in fact. The Vivo Watch BP can take a mea­sure­ment in 15 sec­onds and also has ECG and PPG sen­sors, along with the ex­pected sleep pat­tern track­ing, dis­tance walked etc. It’s a very handy lit­tle prod­uct for the health con­scious, but also and specif­i­cally for those that do need to keep track of blood pres­sure. Plus, de­spite have a de­cent full colour screen and all the health magic, has a bat­tery that’s good for 28 days.

The happy lit­tle robot pal Zenbo was back. Asus showed off three iden­ti­cal Zen­bos, which means there are at least three in ex­is­tence. This year’s pitch has Zenbo po­si­tioned as a busi­ness ser­vices part­ner (robot re­cep­tion­ist?) and re­tail shop as­sis­tant. I guess the kids don’t want Zenbo read­ing them bed­time sto­ries any­more.

The Asus ROG Phone is a su­per high-spec mo­bile gam­ing pow­er­house The Asus Rap­ture GT-AX1000 router is ut­terly enor­mous

The ROG Phone has an op­tional cool­ing unit for your sweaty hands

The tri­an­gle panel on the ROG Hu­ra­can folded up for bet­ter air­flow

Hide your bezels with ROG’s bezel hider

The LEDs shine light based on what’s on-screen

Top-end Asus ZenBooks have this fan­tas­tic dis­play touch­pad

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