Happy Memorial Day, gerbils. While you're presumably kicking back with a hot dog and beer, we're in balmy Taipei, Taiwan for the kickoff of Computex 2017. The first event of substance was a combined press conference by Asus and Intel. Asus chairman Jonney Shih took to the stage to unveil the company's latest and greatest laptops. Steel yourself for a lot of superlatives.
Asus opened with the most interesting product of the bunch, the ZenBook Flip S. Introduced as "the world's thinnest convertible laptop," the Flip S measures 0.4" (10.9 mm) thick and weighs 2.4 lbs (or 1.1 kg). The company was quick to point out that Flip S is about 20% thinner than the MacBook and 55% thinner than the Macbook Air.
The convertible's 360° rotating hinge was touted as "mesmerizing as a ballet dancer." Setting aside the odd simile, the hinge felt robust and rotated smoothly during our brief hands-on with the device. The Flip S transforms easily between a traditional laptop, a tent format, and tablet form. Regardless of the form, the Flip S proved to be quite fingerprint-prone, so Asus staff regularly swooped in for a microfiber wipe-down.
The Flip S sports a 13.3" 4K display with a mere 0.24" (6.1 mm) bezel. Taking a leaf out of Dell's "InfinityEdge" book, Asus has slapped a "NanoEdge" branding on its new lineup of narrow-bezeled notebook displays. The machine also supports Windows Ink and Windows Hello. To take advantage of Ink, users must avail themselves of the Asus Pen with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. Asus didn't say whether a Pen would be bundled with the Flip S, but we'd bet it'll have to be purchased separately. On the Hello front, there's fingerprint sensor integrated into the right edge of the display's bezel. So well-integrated, in fact, that it wasn't readily discernible when I had the device in hand.
Now for what's under the hood. In what is presumably its highest configuration, the Flip S is powered by an unspecified Core i7 ultrabook processor with a turbo clock of 3.5 GHz. Intel's Gregory Bryant later made passing mention of Asus' use of seventh-generation Intel processors in its new lineup, so we wager the CPU inside the Flip S is the Core i7-7500U. 16GB of LPDDR3 memory and a 1TB PCIe x4 SSD are along for the ride.
The specs are rounded out by a 39 WHr battery that's allegedly good for 11.5 hours of computing. Asus says its fast-charging technology will take that battery from 0% to 60% in 49 minutes. When it's available later this year, the ZenBook Flip S will start at $1099. Rest assured that the configuration outlined above will cost substantially more.
Next up was the ZenBook 3 Deluxe, the 'world's thinnest 14" laptop.' In the same way that Dell calls the XPS 13 a 13" laptop in an 11" body, Asus is styling the ZenBook 3 Deluxe as a 14" laptop in a 13" chassis. The 0.5" (13 mm) thick all-metal body and 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg) weight make for a svelte package. Alas, whatever "aerospace-grade" metal the Zenbook 3 Deluxe is made out of doesn't appear to be any better at repelling fingerprints than the material used for the Flip S. Unlike that model, the Zenbook 3 Deluxe has a glass-covered touchpad and a fully-backlit keyboard.
Asus didn't make the 14" NanoEdge display's resolution known, so it's a fair bet that it's not 4K. However, the company was proud to announce that the ZenBook 3 Deluxe is the first laptop display armed with Corning's Gorilla Glass 5. Users at the bleeding edge of peripheral connectivity will be glad to hear that there are two USB Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support. Asus asserts that there's enough bandwidth on tap for the machine to drive two external 4K displays simultaneously.
In its most powerful configuration, the Zenbook 3 Deluxe is powered by an again-unspecified Core i7 CPU, a 1TB PCIe SSD, and 16GB of RAM. The starting price for this machine is $1199.
To make for a smudgy metal trifecta, Asus trotted out a new ZenBook Pro. This time around, the guts of the machine were the main focus. The ZenBook Pro has a discrete graphics card—a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti—and a quad-core H-series Core i7 CPU. The flagship configuration again sports a 1TB PCIe SSD and 16GB of RAM. This time around, though, the RAM is 2400 MT/s DDR4. All that grunt drives a 15.6" NanoEdge 4K display, which the company says covers 100% of the sRGB color space. If that display isn't to your liking, the Pro's pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports will let you easily connect an external monitor.
At 0.75" thick (or 19 mm) and 4 lbs (1.8 kg), the updated machine is considerably heftier than its non-Pro siblings, but it's nonetheless the thinnest and lightest ZenBook Pro yet. Some of that heft comes from a 73 WHr battery rated for 14 hours of use. Despite the larger capacity, Asus says its fast-charging technology will again take the battery from 0% to 60% in 49 minutes. The Pro again ratchets the price up a notch, starting at $1299.
Lastly, Asus debuted a pair of VivoBooks. The company considers its VivoBooks "mainstream notebooks," as opposed to the more enthusiast-oriented ZenBook line. The VivoBook S is surprisingly trim for a non-ultrabook: only 0.71" (18 mm) thick and weighing in at 3.3 lbs (or 1.5 kg). Inside, you'll find a Core i7 U-series processor, a GeForce 940MX graphics card, up to 2TB of spinning rust or 512GB of solid-state goodness, and up to 16GB of 2133 MT/s DDR4 memory.
The big hook for the VivoBook S is the price. Even at $499, you still get a 15.6" 1080p NanoEdge display and Asus' fast-charging tech. Yet again, Asus delivers an absurdly consistent estimate that the battery will go from 0% to 60% in 49 minutes.
The VivoBook Pro, as you might expect, is a bit more of an upmarket machine. Its aluminum body rings in at 0.76" (19.2 mm) thick and 5 lbs (or 2.3 kg), but with great size comes, er, great hardware. You can ratchet the VivoBook Pro all the way up to a quad-core Core i7-7700HQ accompanied by 16GB of DDR4 and a GeForce GTX 1050. In addition to the 2TB HDD and 512GB SSD options, you can apparently provision the VivoBook Pro with Optane Memory, though Jonney Shih didn't delve into more detail here.
On the outside, the VivoBook Pro packs a 4K display covering 100% of the sRGB space and a fully backlit keyboard. Starting price is set at $799.
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