The likes of smartwatches, virtual reality systems and transparent displays have invaded Computex 2014, a space traditionally saved for PC makers to shine with the laptops, tablets and PC accessories.
This is the future of computing. Though PC shipment numbers have been dwindling, well the right word is plummeting, the fact is, PCs are still much in need. But what's happening is a paradigm shift, one that's very telling when even stalwarts such as Acer are making their own smartwatch to complement their Android devices.
We saw the future, and we're here to excite and warn you about certain aspects of it.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
Intel showed off a reference design PC booting the new efficient Core M processor at Computex. Super slim thanks to the lack of a fan system, it sets the stage for equally slim tablets and convertibles to come. And the first to pick was a contender from Asus - the 7.3mm slim Transformer Book T300 Chi hybrid packing the power of Intel’s latest micro-architecture.
Verdict: Good, maybe even great. As people who had to work the expansive floor space four days in a row with equipment in tow, thinner and lighter is always better. Trust us.
Acer Liquid Leap
The company’s first wearable was hyped up before Computex, but we were mostly sorely underwhelmed when we met it in the flesh. And that Liquid Jade smartphone it comes bundled with doesn’t look too bad either.
Verdict: Just barely on the cusp of promising. In terms of tech, it’s really quite disappointing. But the way it looks gives us hope that wearables will be better looking in the future.
READ MORE: Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband
Singapore company Oaxis jumps onto the wearables bandwagon with the Star 21, a rather good looking wearable that’s geared towards the ladies with its studded display. Working very much like the Misfit Shine, LEDs light up to show the time and how far you’re along in achieving your activity goal. The accompanying app also gamifies the experience although details were scant.
Verdict: Promising. Waterproof, great-looking and affordable at US$69, the Star21 could potentially shine.
The company also makes e-ink displays that you can use in place of your smartphone’s. Why would you want to do that? You’ll appreciate it when your battery is flatlining and you still want to finish up that downloaded book of yours. E-ink is easy on both battery life and your eyes. The InkCase2 works with three apps - a photo viewer, a reading app and a sports app to give you battery-saving displays in these three scenarios.
Verdict: Promising. If they work proper with case makers and expand their repertoire of apps, we might be able to leave the battery pack at home.
The smartwatches from Martian combine analogue and digital in its display. These watches give you the ability to customise the vibration alert according to the app, so you know when it’s an email and when it’s a text. You can also choose to read the message that scrolls horizontally across or limit the number of characters as a preview. Capabilities vary according to the models of course.
Verdict: Surprisingly good. We’re glad someone is rethinking what smartwatches should look like and including features that make sense. Best of all, the two displays work on two different batteries so if the digital side should run out of juice, you can still read time.
More after the break...
SiME smart glass
The bizarrely taped-together smart eyewear caught our attention at first for all the wrong reasons. And when we tried it, it was the most uncomfortable wearable we’ve ever worn. However, it is great to see Glass get some competition so that we can reap the benefits from all that friendly competition.
Verdict: Again, barely promising. A sharper resolution of 720p than Glass’ 320p and it being priced at a third of the Glass’ cost were what saved it from being plain ugly. Although it certainly deserves that title with its awkward form and off-balance.
Asus Transformer Book V
The first of its kind, the multi-mode, triple-deviced, dual operating system machine presents brand new ways to work the convertible category. If you can’t decide between Windows or Android, this device lets you have the best of both worlds. The best bit is you can pretend you’re hard at work in laptop mode while really texting your buds.
Verdict: Good. We like innovation here at Stuff, but we also like affordability. Whether this device sinks or swims is pretty dependent on whether it’s priced competitively.
Not all wearable tech are created equal. And smart technology can make you look pretty dumb. Case in point - the smartgloves from Lapara. Operating by Bluetooth, there’s a mic built into the little finger of the glove and a loudspeaker into the thumb. How do you use it? Work your hand into a hang loose sign and then put it portrait-mode to your face. Yes, that’s how you answer calls.
Verdict: Plain butt ugly. Plus you will look completely ridiculous using it. At US$60, looking stupid doesn’t come cheap either.
The Swiss company positions itself as the Swatch of the smartwatches, an affordable first foray into the wonderful world of intelligent timepieces. This activity tracker is priced at US$69 (just a little more than those smartgloves) and looks a lot like the Liquid Leap, but does a little more. You can set notifications, like a reminder to take meds and you know, to go to work.
Verdict: Promising. It’s affordable enough to tempt people into the world of wearables. Other smart devices on offer are also not too smart for their own good nor do they deliver focused features.
XYZPrinting 3D printers
There’s the da Vinci 1.0 ringing in at a very affordable US$500 for hobbyists with a 3-step EZ Mode for first-timers, or if you’re better-versed in the art of 3D printing, there’s the da Vinci 2.0 Duo. Featuring dual extruders, the machine allows you to print 3D figures with two colours like, erm, a panda.
Verdict: Promising. Go ahead, take a seat at the 3D printing crafts table and have fun with it.