HWZ: Will we see Intel’s ThunderBolt on ASUS motherboards or notebooks soon?
Jackie: Basically, we have very long term partnerships with vendors, so every time they have a new platform, we are always a co-developing partner. So we will put a lot of resources on those new platforms. It’s still too early to say because we have some development lead time.
HWZ: Besides the ROG brand, ASUS also has the TUF series. How has the market responded to that?
Jackie: That’s also an interesting product. We created the ROG products because we wanted to help our end-users to win against the competition. But the TUF series, we realized that some users always keep their PCs on, 24/7 for the entire year. They are always worried that doing so will lead to PC problems.
This gives us the idea of products and components that are meant for an environment without any downtime. Hence, we call it TUF, very ‘tough’, just like in the real world, where your devices cannot stop. That will cost you if it’s not very stable. Our idea is to let users have that kind of reliability.
That is our original idea. We started with one segment, motherboards, but we’ll expand the product coverage. So far, we had very good feedback.
HWZ: ROG products have won various design awards. Tell us more about the design process.
Jackie: This is a very interesting topic, but if I say too much, I will teach my competitors. Laughs. To be honest, inside ASUS we have some hardcore gamers, but that is not enough. So we really need to get feedback from the outside, from real hardcore gamers.
Basically, before we develop a product, whether notebook or motherboard, we have some very concrete conversations with focus group users. We ask them what kind of features they need and whether they appreciate our design approach.
For example, our ROG notebooks. We got feedback from one gamer, who said that it is very dark in the typical gaming environment and that the ambient light from the display did not help. We took this feedback in mind for our product and we now have backlit keyboard on the notebook. So this is part of our design process.
We not only listen to our users, but also communicate with them. They have some ideas, but at the same time, we have to let them know, how much it costs to have certain features. Because we can deliver what they want, but the price could be very high. So we have to let them know, for a price segment, what kind of features are possible.
Hence, we need two-way communication because the reality is users have to buy our products and if the price is sky-high, no one will appreciate.
Inside ASUS, we have different R&D departments. The present R&D team is doing things for the present and the future. Besides, we also have another interesting R&D department known as Da Vinci Lab. That lab is always studying and developing technologies or concepts that can be used three years later.
HWZ: Can you give any examples of research projects at Da Vinci Lab that become products?
Jackie: Yes, one thing is the tablet. The first tablet from ASUS, that’s the current Eee Note. The Eee Note was developed by Da Vinci, almost three years ago. They started with this, even before we saw the iPad. They were thinking whether this product should be closer to the original PC Tablet or to an e-book reader. Finally, they thought that they could create a different use for it, which is note-taking. That’s why it’s called the Eee Note.
HWZ: ROG notebooks are now coming with 3D displays. Do you see the 3D market growing?
Jackie: Since last year, this has been a hot topic. But I think now that users still need to have an extra device (3D glasses) to get into the 3D environment. Actually, even with 3D glasses, there are users who appreciate this technology. So when it comes to this topic, there’s potential.
But for the majority of users, it is still too early. We think it’s the future, so we are investing resources. Currently, we have a 24-inch 3D monitor, but we will soon be producing a 27-inch 3D LCD monitor.
HWZ: How about 30-inch displays?
Jakie: I think that is not the direction we want, because that will get into the TV display segment. In our current roadmap, we’ll focus on 27-inch and below.
And that's all the time we had with Mr Hsu. You can check out more Computex related articles here.