Keeping it real at Computex
Computex has always been a meat-and-potatoes kind of show compared to CES's giddy dreams, a place where PC makers show their best stuff ahead of the all-important back-to-school shopping season. This year was no different, as HP, Dell, Asus and others piled on the tablets, 2-in-1s and ultra-thin laptops.
Here's a comprehensive look at the big announcements from Computex 2014, and when you're done here, be sure to check out PCWorld's look at the future of computing as revealed at Computex.
Asus Zenbook NX500 with 4K display
Asus reckons it can one-up Apple's MacBook Pro with the Zenbook NX500, an aluminum-clad laptop with a 15.6-inch 4K display. It's not just about looks, either, as Asus is packing an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 850M graphics card inside, while still promising seven or eight hours of battery life.
Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus '3K' gaming PC
While Razer tends to get all the attention for its sleek Blade gaming laptops, Gigabyte has an answer in the Aorus X3 Plus. Like the new 14-inch Blade, Gigabyte's rig has a 3200x1800-pixel display, an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M graphics, but it's lighter than the Blade at 4.12 pounds.
On the downside, it'll last for only three to four hours on a charge, and it has no touchscreen. It'll arrive in the third quarter, starting at $2,199.
HP's Android-powered Slatebook and new Chromebook 11
HP is trying everything it can to get its groove back, and that includes a 14-inch touchscreen laptop that runs Android. It's not the best trackpad-and-keyboard operating system, but at least the SlateBook weighs in at a respectable 3.71 pounds and lasts up to 9.25 hours on a charge (per HP). It'll cost $429 when it ships on August 6.
HP is also launching a new 11-inch ARM-based Chromebook. It's a little cheaper than last year's version at $249, but also thicker and heavier. (More details on both here.)
Intel's Devil's Canyon processors
While we wait for Broadwell chips to come around, Intel has pulled off an impressive feat with its existing Haswell family: A new chip, code-named Devil's Canyon, touts a base clock speed of 4GHz in all four cores for the i7 model, with turbo-boost clock speed of 4.4GHz. There's also an i5 model with a base speed of 3.5GHz, and both are unlocked and just begging to be overclocked.
Intel Llama Mountain reference tablet
In addition to having an awesome name, Intel's latest reference design seems like an impressive leap for hybrid computing. Using Core M, a low-power variant of Intel's next-generation Broadwell chips, the tablet managed to be thinner than an iPad air and lighter than the original iPad—and that's with a 12.5-inch display. You can expect PC makers to build tablets and accompanying keyboard docks based on this design by year's end.
Asus Transformer Book V and T300 Chi
Asus' jack-of-all-trades hybrid approach continues with the Transformer Book V, an Android phone that docks into an Android tablet, which can then launch Windows and dock into a keyboard with additional storage. There's no word on when it'll launch or how much it'll cost.
On the more normal side, Asus also announced the Transformer Book T300 Chi, which looks to be an extremely svelte Windows hybrid with a 12.5-inch display. It'll measure just 0.29 inches thick in tablet mode and 0.56 inches thick in laptop mode, and it bears a striking resemblance to Intel's Llama Mountain reference design. If it's indeed a Broadwell-based 2-in-1, don't expect to see it until the end of the year. (More details on both here.)
Dell Inspiron hybrids rock 360-degree hinges
After flirting with Yoga-like laptop designs last year, Dell is going all-out with a pair of new Inspiron PCs. Both the 11-inch and 13-inch models will have 360-degree hinges, allowing them to rotate into laptop, stand and tablet modes. But while the smaller one has a 1366-by-768 display and Intel Bay Trail chip, the larger one will have a Core processor and 1080p display.
Look for the 11-inch Inspiron in June for $449 and up, and the 13-inch model in September for an unrevealed price. Dell also plans to roll out Ubuntu versions around the same time, but U.S. launch plans aren't clear.
Dell revamps its all-in-one lineup
Dell didn't forget the desktop in its Computex lineup. On the low end, Dell's $350 Inspiron 20 3000 has an Intel Celeron processor; a 19.5-inch, 1600x900-pixel display; and a minimum 2GB of memory.
Meanwhile, the XPS 18 shown here is an Intel Core-powered all-in one with a 18.4-inch, 1080p touchscreen. It also has its own battery, and it can last for about six hours away from a charger.
HP Windows hybrids swivel and split
Lenovo and Dell aren't the only ones with 360-degree hinged laptops. At Computex, HP announced the 13-inch Pavilion x360 and 15-inch Envy x360, both of which can swivel from tablet to laptop modes. The former will have a choice of AMD and Intel chips starting at $600, while the latter will be an Intel-only affair starting at $680.
HP also announced a new version of its Split x2 detachable hybrid, with a choice of Intel Bay Trail or 4th-generation Core chips. It'll start at $600 next month.
AMD's Kaveri, its first enthusiast-class laptop APUs
With its mobile Kaveri processors, AMD finally has an answer to the surprisingly decent integrated graphics on Intel's fourth-generation core processors. At the top end of the line, AMD is promising to match or outperform Intel Core i7 chips in graphics performance, enabling basic gaming laptops without involving a discrete graphics card.
Dell's Venue 7 and Venue 8 offer Android on the cheap
As prices continue to fall on Android tablets, we're starting to see better features for less cash. Dell's Venue 8, for instance, packs an 8-inch, 1920x1200-pixel display, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and wireless charging capabilities for $200, though it does have only 1GB of RAM. Dell will also sell a 7-inch Venue tablet with a 1280x800-pixel display for $159.
Asus gaming gear (including a new Steam Machine)
Asus brought a bunch of gaming hardware to Computex, including a small desktop PC with a slick design and nearly silent operation. Asus says it could make for a great Steam Machine once Valve's software is ready.
The rest of Asus' gaming lineup consisted of a laptop with a 4K display, a monitor that support's Nvidia's G-Sync technology, a water-cooled video card, and an AMD-oriented motherboard.
Acer Liquid Jade and Liquid Leap
Acer is yet another PC maker piling into the wearable craze with the Liquid Leap, a rubberized fitness band that controls music, counts calories burned, and shows some basic call and text-message notifications. To start, it'll work with Acer's midrange Liquid Jade Android smartphone, but the odds that either device will launch in the United States seem slim.
Corsair's SSD on a flash drive
Usually, using a USB flash drive for file transfers and portable operating systems means dealing with sluggish speeds, but not with Corsair's Flash Voyager GTX. The thumb-sized drives tout read speeds of up to 450MB/sec and write speeds of up to 350MB/sec, essentially putting them on a par with dedicated solid state storage. They'll cost $120 for 128GB and $200 for 256GB, and they'll arrive in July.