New Asus laptops focus on design distinctiveness

The Consumer Electronics Show doesn’t officially begin until Thursday, but today Asus gathered the press to show off several interesting new notebook models based on Intel’s latest mobile CPUs. We expected one of the world’s largest manufacturers of portable PCs to be showing systems based on the Arrandale and Pine Trail platforms, of course. What we didn’t expect was the sort of designs Asus rolled out.

My hipster sources tell me that collabos are all the rage these days, so I suppose it’s only fitting that Asus has teamed up with designer Karim Rashid for a series of fashionable netbooks. The cooperative effort came up with a uniquely textured exterior designed to play with light, create shadows, and hopefully stave off fingerprint smudges. This exterior finish is available in 80s-friendly hot pink or a subtler shade of brown gold. The former is a glossy affair, but the mocha flavor’s finish is more textured, with almost a rubber-like feel.

Under their flashy exteriors, these new netbooks feature Atom N250 processors, 1GB of RAM, 10.1" 1024×600 displays, 250GB hard drives, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Nothing novel there, then. According to Asus, these new systems are officially priced at $499, but are expected to sell for less when they actually hit the market.

While the high-fashion netbooks are probably niche products, I think the design of one of Asus’ new mainstream notebook platforms looks even better. For years, Asus has been looking at ways to incorporate bamboo—a renewable and eco-friendly resource—into its high-volume notebook products. They’ve finally cracked the formula with the U Series Bamboo Collection, which melds plastic-impregnated bamboo with gorgeous brushed aluminum. The contrasting materials make for an original aesthetic, one that instantly reminded me of the interior of a high-priced Jaguar or Aston Martin—except the U Series will be quite a bit more affordable, with some systems selling for around a grand.

Members of the bamboo collection will be available with Core i3 and i5 processors, switchable graphics, and USB 3.0 connectivity. There’s no word on what sort of screen sizes will be available, but given Asus’ current mainstream notebook platforms, I’d expect at least a few options between 13 and 16 inches.

If you’ve been following TR for a while now, you know that big gaming laptops aren’t really our thing. Still, there’s a lot to like in Asus’ G73 gaming rig, whose surprisingly restrained design eschews the bling usually associated with gaming systems in favor of a matte black finish and angular lines inspired by the F-117 Stealth Fighter. The wedge-shaped chassis puts the LED-backlit keyboard at a comfortable 5° angle while allowing for larger exhaust ports that pipe heat out the back of the system and away from the user.

Asus says the G73 will come with a selection of Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 8GB of memory, a 17.3" 1920×1080 display, Radeon Mobility 5870 graphics, and optional Blu-ray. At least one configuration will sell for just $1600, too, which isn’t a bad deal for a system that should be able to play recent games smoothly at its native 1080p resolution.

Asus saved its most outlandish new notebook for last. The NX90 was crafted in conjunction with lead Bang & Olufsen designer David Lewis, which explains the relatively large speakers that jut out from either side of the screen—and, indeed, the notebook itself. Most of the system, including its expansive top panel, is covered in aluminum polished to a near-mirror finish. There are other unique touches, too, such as dual touchpads that sit on either side of the keyboard.

Bang & Olufsen gear isn’t cheap, and neither is the NX90. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $2500 for this high-concept desktop replacement. In exchange, you’ll get a Core i5 or i7 processor, an 18.4" 1080p display, GeForce GT 335M graphics, and a Blu-ray reader. A 16" NX60 derivative will be available, as well, although there’s no word yet on pricing.

Hit the image gallery below for more high-res shots of Asus’ new notebook designs.

Comments closed
    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    And silver doesn’t?

    • Skrying
    • 13 years ago

    First, they are out and second neither what he quoted or what he concluded was right. There’s no rebranding going on here. Rebranding is changing the name of an existing product. These are new products. AMD/ATI has always used matching model numbers to represent products in relevance to each other. The mobility HD5870 is the fastest mobile option AMD offers, just like it is the fastest desktop option (baring the HD5970, which is an oddity). That’s not rebranding nor does it make what he quoted a lie, just his wrong conclusion.

    • Meadows
    • 13 years ago

    Sure black is boring, but at least it fits every room and colour scheme.

    • shank15217
    • 13 years ago

    AMD doesn’t re brand their products in that manner.

    • shank15217
    • 13 years ago

    Stop making stuff up, the dx11 mobility Radeons haven’t come out yet and there is no way AMD would re-brand their products in that manner.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    yeah it’s got that Atari 2600 thing going for it.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    No, I meant going from 17000 to 7000 sucks. 7,000 is very good on a lappy, mine on;y get ~600! Heh heh! Need a new one.

    • wagsbags
    • 13 years ago

    I agree that they should photograph the smudges. To be honest I’ve never used a glossy one but I’ve never seen a review that prefers them.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    It looks better in staged marketing photos. I wish webites (*cough* TR) would start taking pictures of these things after some regular handling to show how fugly they end up. I am not sure why sites don’t photograph them after normal use since they always tend to write about it but not photograph it.

    • tay
    • 13 years ago

    Aren’t these absolutely hideous? Im now a mac / pc user but I love the way my macs look.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 13 years ago

    Agreed. Why do so many manus put the gloss finish on? Is it cheaper than matte? Do they think it actually looks better with smudges and prints all over it than the matte ones? Seems to be a despised feature that has stuck around for years now.

    • grantmeaname
    • 13 years ago

    7,000 3Dmarks on a mobile GPU sucks? Really?

    • swaaye
    • 13 years ago

    Look at the smudges on the stupid gloss finish. I despise these gloss finishes.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    Wrong, 1970s 🙂 brushed aluminum+wood (real wood) makes for such pretty electronics. Much better than boring black. From the pictures the Asus looks like tacky vinyl fakewood though even if it’s not.

    • no51
    • 13 years ago

    to match your 80’s stereos?

    • Deanjo
    • 13 years ago

    Could still be a 5 series chip but a lower model rebranded to be a high end 5870. Such as a 5750 becomes a 5950 in the mobile world.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    Too many men on board? But, I agree, I can’t understand, shy they can’t just have a simple laptop with all the goodies inside. What is so hard about that? You know the old saying, “Don’t judge the book by its cover”? They need to apply it more. And my God, the money that would be saved…

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    But not by 10,000 points. That sucks!

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 13 years ago

    I think it came back with the ‘green’ revolution.

    • glacius555
    • 13 years ago

    B&O always had brilliant ideas, but this one is not a winner I think.. Looks ugly when open..

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    A rebrand of what? AMD didn’t have any previous DX11 mobile parts, did they?

    Also, mobile parts are slower than desktop parts. Not really news there.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    The wood panelled one would look so much nicer if the rest of it were silvery instead of black. The few silver highlights make it look even worse.

    • Farting Bob
    • 13 years ago

    The amazing thing about life is that you can have your cheap, average looking laptops while others have their wood panelling. All companies show off these concept designs. They know that they arent going to sell more than a few B&O laptops at $2500 each, but they do it because people talk about them and its good advertising for the whole Asus brand.
    Also, once in a while a concept design comes along (think original EeePC) and people go nuts for and actually buy, so its worth experimenting with new designs.

    • darc
    • 13 years ago

    Looks to me like Asus have lost their minds. An 80’s handbag-looking thing, an ugly retro wood panel thing (at best it reminds me of an Atari 2600, but it reminds me of many, many uglier things as well), and a design by a hi-fi company whose hi-fi equipment no one buys either, which is neither quite portable nor quite large enough, and which is destined for obsolescence to soon for its $2500 price tag.

    At least the garish netbooks are cheap and have a demographic. The only other viable product is the gaming laptop, for the few people who buy them.

    Asus used to make very sensible high-performance laptops. I could do without the all the bling. Am I just being a curmudgeon?

    • MaxTheLimit
    • 13 years ago

    When exactly did wood paneling come back in style?

    • Flying Fox
    • 13 years ago

    The problem is I don’t think they look better, just… weirder.

    • Deanjo
    • 13 years ago

    According to Tom’s Hardware it’s a rebrand.

    “One of the products, the G73 gaming laptop, will offer a mobile, DX11-capable Radeon HD 5870, complete with 1GB of video RAM, according to Asus chairman Jonney Shih. The Asus head noted that the G73 generates a 3DMark Vantage score of 7,200 (Ed.: the desktop version of ATI’s card does 17,428 3DMarks; here we go again with the naming shenanigans). ”

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    I love the bamboo notebook. It looks like a console TV. :p

    • flip-mode
    • 13 years ago

    This is why I would consider Apple. If it was between something like these for $600 or an Apple for $1100, I’d think very, very hard about paying for the Apple.

    Why do PC companies fail at design?

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    Wow, wood paneling on a laptop — the perfect gift for Clark Griswald.

    • wira020
    • 13 years ago

    Radeon Mobility 5870? did i miss the launch??.. or is it the same 5870 as the desktop?…

    • Voldenuit
    • 13 years ago

    Saw the same post on Anand’s. I’m not a fan of big laptops in general, but the NX90 looks really nice. A desktop replacement that would look good in a stylish modern apartment. Hopefully, they haven’t skimped on the screen, although I would have preferred a matte screen and brushed (instead of polished) surfaces. You’d have to wear OJ-style murdergloves to handle that -[

    • The Dark One
    • 13 years ago

    Now all Apple has to do is make that Mahogany iPod an official product and we’ll be living in The Final Cut’s world.

    • blubje
    • 13 years ago

    better pink than the last two bricks… I think the bamboo could look best. I don’t think it’s integrated perfectly (should be more bamboo and less metal, I think), though it’s definitely prettier than the black brick following it.

    • SecretMaster
    • 13 years ago

    Color balance issues or no, that laptop is fugly.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    O snap, that’s a little bit better.

    • Meadows
    • 13 years ago

    DJ Ssid hits the scene!

    • Damage
    • 13 years ago

    Color balance issues. My bad. I’ve fixed it, though you might have to reload.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    Eh, I’m all for pink accessories, but that’s the wrong shade. That’s like a dark magenta. Also the “brickle” texture map is kinda tacky.

    • Skrying
    • 13 years ago

    I don’t care what they want to call this “new direction” as long as it results in better looking laptops.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    q[

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