The power of 3: ASUS launches ZenBook 3, Transformer 3 Pro, ZenWatch 3, and more
Note: This article was first published on 13th October 2016.
ASUS today unveiled its latest range of computing and mobile devices at Suntec City's new atrium between towers 1 and 2, just in time for the holiday shopping season. First announced at Computex and IFA this year, the products finally come with local prices and release dates. The good news is that you won’t even have to wait till next year to pick up one of these smashing new devices, with a couple of them slated to be available as soon as next week.
All the new products have been designed around the number 3, and ASUS made a point to emphasize the influence the traditional tenets of fashion and luxury design had on its new products. This means attention to the finer points of industrial design and a focus on selecting the right materials to create the best possible experience.
Here’s a look at what you can expect coming soon and in the months ahead and what you can check out at the Zenvolution event that will be held until the end of 16th October at Suntec City's new atrium between towers 1 and 2.
We first saw the ZenBook 3 back at Computex in June, and were immediately struck by how much it resembled the Apple MacBook (and how good it looked really).
ASUS’ newest ZenBook features either a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7500U (2.7GHz, 4MB cache) or Core i5-7200U processor (2.5GHz, 3MB cache), up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD. The display is a 12.5-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel affair, and framed by a slim bezel that gives it an impressive screen-to-body ratio for a better aesthetical and viewing experience.
The notebook has just a single USB Type-C connector for charging and display transfers, but power users will be able to access more ports with docking accessories like the ASUS Mini Dock (bundled with the notebook) and Universal Dock.
That aside, this is an impressively light and thin notebook. It doesn’t shatter any records like the Acer Swift 7, but at just 11.9mm thin and 910g light, you should have no problem taking it with you anywhere.
The ZenBook 3 will be available starting at S$1,998 from 22 October onwards at all ASUS brand stores and authorized retailers.
A better specced model with a Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM is also available at S$2,598. Both models will come with a free one-year anti-virus subscription, a sleeve case, and the aforementioned ASUS Mini Dock.
Transformer 3 Pro
As with the ZenBook 3, ASUS first introduced the Transformer 3 Pro at Computex. This is ASUS’ Surface Pro 4 challenger, and features a kickstand and detachable Transformer Cover keyboard. You get a full 155 degrees of motion with the kickstand, and won’t have to deal with notched steps at all.
ASUS has yet to update the device with the latest Kaby Lake chips, and it is instead equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200U processor (2.3GHz, 3MB cache), 8GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The higher end model comes with quite a decent specification bump, featuring a Core i7-6500U processor (2.5GHz, 4MB cache), 16GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 512GB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD.
The 12.6-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 2,880 x 1,620 pixels, which translates into a 16:9 aspect ratio. That’s quite a departure from the more squarish 3:2 aspect ratio that this type of device has tended to favor, and you may find it less suited to productivity-oriented tasks like word processing and document viewing.
Other notable features include a front camera that supports Windows Hello’s facial recognition login and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port that allows you to connect up to two 4K displays at the same time.
The Transformer 3 Pro will be available from 22 October onwards starting at S$1,898. The top-end model with a Core i7 processor will cost you S$2,598. Both configurations come bundled with the Transformer Cover keyboard and ASUS Pen.
The ZenWatch 3 takes a leaf from the ZenBook 3’s attention to detail, following in the footsteps of luxurious watchmakers with a meticulous design and premium construction. This is ASUS’ first round smartwatch, and we’ve to admit that it’s quite a good look (though some might say it looks a tad thick).
It is polished to a high shine and the three side buttons are reminiscent of the large ones on more luxurious watches. In addition, it boasts a 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a 400 x 400-pixel resolution, which translates into a 286ppi pixel density.
The watch is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100, a processor designed explicitly for wearables with features like improved power efficiency. But despite what its looks might suggest, this isn’t just a dress watch, and ASUS intends for it to be used as a fitness tracker as well with IP67 water resistance and a built-in ZenFit app that can track a wide range of workouts and activities.
To cap things off, you’ll be able to charge it up to 60 per cent in just 15 minutes, courtesy of a fast-charging feature ASUS calls HyperCharge.
You can get the ZenWatch 3 in November at S$369.
ZenPad 3 8.0
Rounding up ASUS’ power-of-three launch is the ZenPad 3 8.0, an affordable 8-inch Android 6.0 tablet. Contrary to the focus on luxury in the other products, the new ZenPad 3 isn’t quite the premium product, even if ASUS says it was designed to look sophisticated.
The 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution display certainly appeared sharp enough, although the brightness did seem a bit wanting in the short time that we had with it. It comes with a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC memory (and a microSD card reader), effectively marking it as a mid-range product.
The tablet’s greatest strength appears to lie in multimedia playback, and it has a pair of front-facing speakers that have been tuned for improved volume and clarity. It also supports DTS Headphone:X virtual 7.1-channel surround sound technology if you plug in your own headphones.
The ZenPad 3 is available now at S$499.
But other than its Zen series products, ASUS also had on display the ROG G31 gaming desktop, a successor of sorts to the existing ROG G20.
This is quite the beastly machine that can boast of the as-yet unannounced Intel Core i7-7700K processor, up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB SSD storage. Still, the kicker has got to be the graphics configuration, which can go up to two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 cards in SLI.
Of course, such bleeding edge specifications will require plenty of juice to run, which is why ASUS has had to include a 'clunky' 750 watt external power supply. Clearly, there was no room to cram such a large PSU into the chassis and still keep it compact enough. Even the original G20 had an external power supply, but it was in the form of two thick adapters.
ASUS hasn’t announced details on price or availability yet, but we’d expect it to debut sometime after Kaby Lake’s desktop processors are announced early next year.
Vivo AIO V221ID
ASUS showed off its Vivo AIO PC as well, an all-in-one machine that packs a processor, graphics card, storage, and memory into a sleek monitor. The 10-point multi-touch display sits on a minimalistic metallic stand, and its stark white color adds a further touch of austerity and elegance.
That said, details on the exact specifications are sparse at the moment, and we only know that it will come with either an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB SATA HDD.
ASUS also hasn’t released any information on price or a release date yet.