I've just come back from Asus' press conference, the first one of the week at the humongous Las Vegas gadget show (CES). And while Asus too was showing off tablets, it seems to have forgotten what made it a household name in the first place: its laptops.
Asus chairman Johnny Shih took to the stage at the first big press conference of CES 2011 to out a brand new family of Eee tablets, including the Android powered Eee Pad Memo and the laptop/tablet docking Eee Pad Transformer. But even though Shih used the time in the spotlight to proclaim itself the number one seller of consumer laptops in the US, it forgot to announce any new ones, and that's a crying shame.
The Taiwanese laptop maker considers itself something of an upstart, fighting against the endless iterations of the same old laptops pushed out by giants such as HP and Acer, and it's always coming out with bonkers ideas. Last year it showed off its vision of "Waveface" computing, while the year before, it revealed a PC inside a keyboard, and a laptop with two separate computers inside.
So, this year was no different, but it's disappointing to see that Asus has been entirely bitten by the tablet bug. It's appears to have forgotten just how important laptops are still, and how crucial innovation is to keep the market moving forward.
While I love my iPad, and the Apple tablet has done a great deal to redefine how we think about computing, laptops and their spacious screens, stellar software and all important keyboards still serve a very important purpose. Getting Stuff Done. I'm typing this on a laptop, I reported from the press conference using one. Even Steve Jobs, Apple founder and CEO, readily admits that, of a fashion: "PCs are going to be like trucks…They are still going to be around", he said in an interview last year.
Thankfully, not everyone has forgotten about laptops here at CES. Intel, the silicon chip manufacturing giant responsible for the processor in most laptops and PCs you can buy today, is using CES 2011 as the launch pad for its brand new, even speedier Core CPUs.
And Google of course, is ploughing on with its own Chrome OS operating system, which it's now clear is designed for laptops with keyboards, rather than tablets you can slip in your backpocket. Its first model, the Google Cr-48, is already in the hands of eager developers, who are busy crafting web apps for it you can open from anywhere, with no need for installation or DVD drives.
We should be seeing plenty more powerful, curious and crazy laptop and PC concepts out on the CES show floor too when the doors open on Thursday, with the likes of Lenovo, MSI, Sony and Toshiba on hand. And then of course, Apple itself is rumoured to be prepping a new iMac for this month.
One thing's for sure: even if both Asus and the media have forgotten about laptops, consumers and gadget giants certainly haven't.
CES Diary by James Holland
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