Some slick designs and novel computers headlined Computex 2016 in Taipei, Taiwan this week.
A longstanding computer hardware conference that’s been around since 1981, Computex always manages to showcase cutting-edge stuff. Probably the biggest attention-getter was a “home robot” from Asus.
Personal robot: Though Asus is keeping a lot of the details under wraps, the intended use of Zenbo (which looks like BB-8 from Star Wars) is clear. It’s meant as an assistant that, Asus claims, can hear and respond to naturally spoken commands, adapt to personal preferences using artificial intelligence, “express” emotions with different facial expressions, recognize faces, play music, control smart home devices, and do remote monitoring, among other things.
Zenbo is targeted at both young and old. “A…companion that helps seniors enjoy a connected visual life and safeguard their health and well-being,” said the company’s chairman, Jonney Shih, during a demo. “It’s also a fun and educational playmate for kids,” he added.
The multitalented assistant seems like a steal at $599 but we won’t know how well it actually performs for a while, as Zenbo isn’t a finished product and won’t be available anytime soon.
Cherng-Chuan Su director of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and a Computex organizer, told FoxNews.com that Zenbo reflects the growing importance of the ‘Internet of Things’ – an attempt to link a diverse range of devices.
“This year, we have a completely different focus [at Computex],” he said. “We have put more focus on the Internet of Things.”
MacBook doppelganger: Computex wouldn’t be Computex without a slick, new computer. One of the slickest is the ZenBook 3, also from Asus. With the exception of its very shiny aluminum “aerospace-grade aluminum” chassis, the Zenbook 3 is the spitting image of the 12-inch MacBook right down to its impossibly-thin design (a mere 11.9mm/0.46 inches thick), 2-pound weight, and single USB Type C port. It is slightly wider than the MacBook because Asus opts for a 12.5-inch display compared to the MacBook’s 12-incher. Asus says that its ultra-thin keys boast travel of 0.8mm, slightly better than the MacBook’s key travel. (Travel is how far you have to push the key to register a keystroke. Typically, the greater the travel, the better the typing experience.) Asus claims all-day battery life. The ZenBook 3 will start at $999 and a fully-loaded version with a fast Intel processor will retail for $1,999. Availability has not been announced.
First 17-inch 2-in-1: Dell announced the “world’s first” 17-inch 2-in-1 tablet, part of its 7000 series Inspiron line. A 360-degree hinge allows four modes: laptop mode, tent mode for presentations, stand mode for streaming movies, and tablet mode. Pricing starts at $900.
2-in-1 from Porsche Design: At Computex, Microsoft showed an upcoming 2-in-1 hybrid laptop from Porsche Design (affiliated with carmaker Porsche AG). The device supports Windows Hello 2.0 (an advanced sign-in feature), Cortana (Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant), and new Microsoft inking technology (based on pen input). The device will come with a 13.3-inch display and will be available this winter.
Award-winning form and function 3D printer: Flux Technology’s Flux Delta 3D printer combines 3D printing, 3D scanning, and laser engraving, among other functions. Flux Studio software also comes with the device. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, during Computex’s opening ceremony, presented a gold award to Flux Technology for design and innovation. The device can be preordered and starts at $669.
More than 130,000 people are expected to attend Computex this week.
Additional reporting from FoxNews.com’s James Rogers.