On the cusp of this fall’s Windows 8 launch -- and in sync with Intel’s new line of Ivy Bridge CPUs -- this year's Computex tech convention in Taiwan was brimming with devices that blur the line between tablet and notebook.
Yes, the clamshell and slate are this year’s royal newlyweds, the tech world’s answer to William and Kate. It seemed like everywhere we went, someone was showing off a Windows tablet that connects to a keyboard and folds into a laptop or a notebook with a screen that bends backwards to make it a tablet or even a desktop with a screen that detaches.
But convertible computers were not the only exciting new products we saw at Computex 2012. There were plenty of other innovations, from tiny phone projectors to giant Android screens. Here are the six best products of the show.
Best Notebook: Acer Aspire S7
If the PC industry wants to get consumers excited about buying laptops again, more of them are going to have to look like the Acer Aspire S7. Both the 11.6-inch and 13-inch versions packs Intel Ivy Bridge processors and SSDs inside metal bodies that are only .5-inches thick. But the full HD touch-enabled screens are the real stars of the show. Even better, the lids are extremely rigid, allowing them to stay still even when you're poking at it with your finger. The screens even go back a full 180 degrees, allowing you to use the notebook flat against a surface.
Best Innovation: Viewsonic VCD22 Android Smart Display
When powered off, Viewsonic's VCD22 Smart Display might be mistaken for a 22-inch LED monitor, but turn it on and your transported into a world of Google goodness. Running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, this touch-enabled device can serve as an all-in-one Android desktop for schools and families that want to run educational software. It can also be used as a kiosk for retailers that want users to, for example, find the right size dress in their stores. Whatever you do with it, the Viewsonic VCD22 brings all the versatility of Android to its large, full HD screen. That's an innovation whose time has come.
Best Accessory: Genius BV 150 iPhone Projector
Whether you're showing a PowerPoint to a small group of employees or showing a movie to the kids, a projector isn't bad to have handy. In the past few years, we've seen a number of tiny pico projectors hit the market, but few are as portable as Genius Tech's BV 150, a tiny device that snaps directly into your iPhone docking port and projects images on any flat surface at a brightness of 20 effective lumens. Not only is the BV 150 small enough to fit into your shirt pocket, but it also does double duty as a 2,200 mAh iPhone charger.
Best of Show: ASUS Taichi
When it comes to bringing tablets and notebooks together, ASUS is the ultimate matchmaker. The company practically pioneered the hybrid category with the Android-based ASUS Eee Pad Transformer in 2011 and dominated Computex by rolling out half a dozen new devices based on Windows 8.
The ASUS Taichi is the best of this new generation of convergence computers, offering not only a compelling way to switch between tablet and notebook modes, but a revolutionary technical solution to a common business problem. With a second, full HD touchscreen on the back of its lid, the Taichi easily turns into a Windows 8 tablet when closed.
The greatest benefit of the Taichi's second screen is that it allows you to show content – a presentation, a sales proposal or even a movie – to someone who's sitting across from you. Better still, the content you show on the lid doesn't have to mirror the primary screen. So when your wife instant messages you in the middle of your presentation, your client will only see the PowerPoint.
Best Tablet: ASUS Tablet 600
The first Windows 8 tablet powered by Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, the ASUS Tablet 600 promises over 10 hours of endurance by itself and 18 hours when attached to its keyboard dock. But with the combination of Tegra 3 and Microsoft's ARM-enabled Windows 8 RT OS, long endurance is just the beginning. In a brief demonstration, this elegantly designed hybrid zoomed through Windows 8's Metro UI, flipping through photos and apps like a Vegas dealer shuffling cards. Plus, the 10.1-inch, 600-nit display is one of the brightest and most colorful we've seen.
Best Enabling Technology: Intel Ivy Bridge
This year's Computex was all about Intel's new 3rd Generation Core Series CPUs for Ultrabooks. Code named “Ivy Bridge” the 22-nanometer chips first started appearing in larger laptops back in April, but just this week, the company launched Ultrabook versions of the processor, issuing in a flood of new and exciting products.
Because Ivy Bridge is so powerful and yet so power efficient, PC vendors are able to create the thinnest, lightest notebooks ever, without compromising performance. At Computex, we saw a slew of groundbreaking new notebook designs, including the 2.16-pound Gigabyte X11, the versatile MSI Slider S20 and the hybrid Samsung Series 5 Ultra Convertible, all made possible by Ivy Bridge.
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