Jun 3, 2016

ASUS Steals the Show with the Transformer 3, ZenBook 3 and Transformer Mini

ASUS does a quadruple threat with its new Zen-branded lines.

It's Zenvolution time and ASUS has unveiled on Monday a huge trove of Zen-branded products. We have a little something for everybody and that includes four strong entries in the laptop and tablet category. Three Zenfone 3 phones were also unveiled at the succeeding Computex 2016 event. For now, we'll focus on the Transformer line, which some thought would not make it for the Zenvolution event.

IThe Zenbook 3 is ASUS taking aim squarely at the ultrabook market dominated by Apple's Macbook and Macbook Air. Most of the show was spent comparing the Zenbook 3 to Apple's laptops, and it may just have a compelling case. ASUS Chairman, Jonney Shih, unveiled the device, which has the same sleek, lightweight design as any Cupertino-made laptop, but with a very competitive price.

The Zenbook 3 (UX390) is equipped with a Core i5 and i7 processor, with a 12.5" Corning Gorilla Glass 4 panel at Full HD. It weighs only 920 grams, is 11.9mm at its thickest point, and can be configured with up to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a USB Type-C port and reportedly up to 9 hours of battery life. It starts at $999 for the i5 variant with 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, while the upper configuration with an i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD will go for $1,999.

On the other hand, the Transformer 3 Pro (T303) is a laptop and tablet hybrid aimed at Microsoft's Surface Pro. At just 8.35mm, it's thinner than the Surface Pro 4. It has Harman Kardon dual front-facing speakers which are reportedly four times louder than the Surface Pro.

The rest of the specifications are a 12.6" 2880x1920 display, and its upper configuration is a Core i7 with 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Thunderbolt 3, a full-size USB 3.0 port and a full-size HDMI port. It will have an optional ASUS Universal Dock accessory for more ports, a stylus with 1,024 pressure levels, a Bluetooth speaker for quad surround sound, and an external Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 module. It starts at $999 including the keyboard cover and stylus.

The Transformer 3 (T305) was also present. The younger sibling of the Transformer 3 Pro, the Transformer 3 is a lighter 695 gram hybrid device with a very svelte 6.9mm thickness. It has the same 12.6-inch display with a wonderful 80% screen-to-body ratio, and the same Harman Kardon speaker setup and fingerprint reader. It'll support seventh generation Intel Core processors, up to 512GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a 9-hour battery life. It starts at $799 with the keyboard dock.

Lastly, we have the Transformer Mini (T102). The Mini is the world's lightest 2-in-1 PC, according to ASUS, with a magnesium alloy design similar to the Surface. It weighs just 530 grams and is 8.2mm thick, with a 10.1-inch display. It will have 11 hours of battery life and a fingerprint sensor.

ASUS certainly impresses with the latest offerings, although it is clear that it is simply playing catchup with Apple and Microsoft. Whether it manages to garner more market share with these offerings remains to be seen.