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Visiting with Asus

Visiting with Asus

During last week’s CES, we stopped by Asus’ rather large booth to see what they’re working on, and I’ll tell you that we walked away surprised and impressed. The big show-stopper for us was a mockup of a product line that, through gradual revisions as technology improves, will eventually be so thin that the MacBook Air will look like a fatass.

Called the Asus Fold, the hypothetical laptop design uses sliding, collapsible and composite chassis elements to make the notebook not much thicker than the tallest internal component. Rather than a notebook, the structure of Fold-based laptops are more reminiscent of a three-ring binder. The first and most feasible entry to the Fold series shows what we mean:

The keyboard slides forward to cover the touchpad when the unit is closed.

The keyboard slides forward to cover the touchpad when the unit is closed.

Later entries to this imaginative line of notebooks get progressively smaller as Asus designers predict the course of technology’s quest for diminutive sizes:

Those are no advertisements in the foreground. Asus is working to get laptops that thin.

Those are no advertisements in the foreground. Asus is working to get laptops that thin.

We spent a great deal of time talking to Asus’ Lead User Experience Designer Daniel Alenquer, and he was clearly quite excited about this particular line of notebooks. He explained that Asus was close to realizing the first iteration of the Fold laptop, but lynchpin technologies like OLED made the project prohibitive or elusive. He also explained Asus’ approach to prolonging battery life, which stems from constant analysis of the most draining components in a laptop’s configuration. This analytical process inspired them to completely abandon fans for the Fold notebook in favor of convection cooling which is ideally suited to laptops of such thinness.

Regarding battery life, I inquired if Asus was working on fuel cell technology which elicited an awkward smile that could have spawned a sentence that started with “we can neither confirm nor deny…”

Other projects in Asus’ labs include an expanded line of bamboo-clad items such as the mouse on that was on display:

Is this swank? Please circle one: (Y) / N

Is this swank? Please circle one: (Y) / N

Asus was also displaying their current lineup of motherboards, notebooks and coolers, but none of it was as awesome as what you’ve just seen. Asus has some amazing products up its sleeves, and Mr. Alenquer’s team is clearly a merry band of geniuses.

Comments

  1. Tim
    Tim Why do we need ultra-thin notebooks? It's one thing for Intel and AMD to be making ever smaller die shrinks and faster memory and motherboards and all that, but seriously - what can a 1/2 inch thick laptop do that a 1 inch think laptop can't?

    If a 1 inch thick laptop is just too big and bulky to be carrying around, then that's a people problem, not a computer problem.
  2. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm My 1/2" thick notebook can beat the pants off your 3" thick notebook on almost every task. :D
  3. Thrax
    Thrax Is it really a people problem if everyone wants the same thing?
  4. MachineDog
    MachineDog
    Tim wrote:
    Why do we need ultra-thin notebooks? It's one thing for Intel and AMD to be making ever smaller die shrinks and faster memory and motherboards and all that, but seriously - what can a 1/2 inch thick laptop do that a 1 inch think laptop can't?

    If a 1 inch thick laptop is just too big and bulky to be carrying around, then that's a people problem, not a computer problem.

    BECAUSE ITS COOOOL
  5. Komete
    Komete I like the notebook but I think that white makes it look cheap. I really like that mouse.

    convection cooling, when I think of that phrase, I think of an oven or a huge steam radiator. Maybe it would work in an atom CPU but anything else would just get too hot with prolonged use on a lap. Did they show any air flow charts?
  6. Thrax
    Thrax No they didn't, but you'd be surprised just how well convection cooling works. OCZ's technical guru has a desktop running at ambient on convection.
  7. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ The stuff on display was just a design exercise to show what should be possible to mass-produce within the next 12-18 months. Daniel seemed to suggest that the technology is there (almost) but it will come down to seeing if the design will be marketable. Based on the reactions he'd seen and from what we saw, the Fold should be a hit if it can come to market at a decent price point.

    I would love to have a laptop that thin and light. Carrying around my MacBook at CES all week made it clear to me that a netbook like Robert's MSI Wind or the elusive Fold will be a requisite addition to my bag at the next conference we attend. It's not a people problem; its a usability problem. And, I think it's pretty evident seeing how netbooks are the fastest growing market segment in computer sales.
  8. Leonardo
    Leonardo When I travel with a notebook, my most pressing needs are email, Internet, modest word processing, and a little storage. Hey, if the monitor is large enough and it has a keyboard made for adult human hands, the rest of it might as well be as small and light as possible. Most of my travel is for training, conferences, and the like. If I performed similar work as I do at my office, then no, the ultralights with their current capabilities would not work.

    But most important for me - keyboard and monitor. I am not impressed at all with itty-bitty cutesy.
  9. Komete
    Komete
    Thrax wrote:
    No they didn't, but you'd be surprised just how well convection cooling works. has a desktop running at ambient on convection.

    Hrmmm.. check this link out http://www.watercomputer.com/technik/konvpc.html

    Is OCZ's technical guru's it like that?
  10. DrLiam
    DrLiam Small is sexy.
    I like sexy.
    I buy sexy.
    mmmm, sexy.

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