The Computex show in Taiwan this week has featured some inventive takes on computing, including Asus’s Transformer Book Trio that works as a Windows 8 notebook and desktop as well as an Android tablet.
Next to that, announcements from Sony and Toshiba around the show seem rather conventional, with pens featured and the latest fourth-generation “Haswell” Core processors from Intel.
The two Japanese companies showed off their new lineups in San Francisco to the media under embargo ahead of Computex.
I was impressed by a new version of the Vaio Duo (pictured above) – the Windows 8 laptop/tablet slider convertible that had a cramped keyboard in its first iteration last autumn.
It has been redesigned to accommodate a full-sized backlit keyboard and the screen size has been increased from 11in to 13in, with a thinner bezel that enables it to have almost the same footprint as the original and a similar light weight, at 2.87lbs.
There is an 8Mp rear camera and a scanning application that allows documents to be captured in excellent detail by the camera. There is also a stylus and related apps.
Sony claims the Duo has the longest battery life of any Ultrabook at 18 hours, helped by the much less demanding Haswell processor.
It is available from Sunday in the US in Carbon Black or White from around $1,400 – a price well outside the mainstream consumer’s bracket, but this is a high-spec versatile machine with a Full HD screen
Sony’s Vaio Pro touchscreen ultrabook also benefits from Full HD. Available in 11in and 13in sizes and weighing only 1.92lbs and 2.34lbs, Sony says they are the lightest touchscreen Ultrabooks for their screen sizes. They are priced at $1,150 and $1,250.
A new range of Toshiba’s Satellite P and S laptops will also go on sale this Sunday, starting at $750 for fourth-generation processor configurations.
The Pure has an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 16Gb of storage, stereo speakers and Micro HDMI, USB and SD ports.
The Pro has a much higher resolution screen – 2560×1600 pixels versus 1280x 800 on the Pure – and a more powerful Tegra 4 processor, as well as 32Gb of storage.
The Write adds a regular-sized digital pen I found very comfortable to hold, with a number of note and drawing applications. Its 8Mp camera can prove useful in meetings with its ability to capture whiteboards, using an app that makes them more legible.
Sound on the Pro and Write is improved with Harmon Kardon-designed stereo speakers – making them the first tablets to feature speakers from a premium audio brand. This is further enhanced by DTS’s Premium Voice Pro audio processing software.
The Satellite machines also have an innovative audio feature in the “Sleep & Music” function – allowing their speakers to be used as audio docks for smartphones and tablets when the laptops themselves are shut down.