The opening of the annual Computex trade show in Taiwan usually means a spate of new PCs from a range of vendors. Given the continuing contraction in the worldwide PC market, vendors are looking to expand the form factors and components in their systems in hopes of attracting more buyers.
Asus, Hewlett-Packard and Dell were among the PC makers that launched news systems as Computex 2014 got underway June 2.
Asus introduced its Transformer Book Flip, a 2-in-1 device that can be used as a notebook or a tablet that includes a hinge design that can set the screen at any angle between zero and 360 degrees, according to company officials. The screen sizes range from 3.3 inches to 14 inches to 15.6 inches.
It runs Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system and is powered by Intel's Core x86 processors. It also offers Nvidia's GeForce GT840M discrete graphics technology for better performance and multitasking capabilities. The system includes an automatic keyboard and touchpad lock to ensure that, when the Book Flip is used in a tablet mode, there won't be any unintended input.
Among the Asus technologies included in the system are Splendid, for enhanced colors on the screen, and SonicMaster, high-end audio. With Instant On technology, the system can wake from sleep in 2 seconds, and Asus' WebStorage offering means users can access their data, music and photos from anywhere, the company said.
The Flip Book will be available by the end of the month.
Dell also unveiled new 2-in-1 devices, the Inspiron 11 3000 Series and 13 7000 Series. Like Asus' offering, the new Inpirons leverage Intel processors (Pentium quad-core chips for the 11 3000 systems and 4th Generation Core processors for the larger 13 7000 PCs). The systems' 11- and 13-inch screens can rotate 360 degrees, giving users a variety of options, from traditional laptop to easel and tent to tablet. Included on the Inspirons are 20GB of Dropbox cloud storage.
Dell also is adding a new entry-level, all-in-one (AIO) system, the Inspiron 20 3000 Series, which offers a 19.5-inch high-definition display and is powered by quad-core Pentium chips. In addition, Dell rolled out new Venue 7 and 8 tablets that run Google's Android mobile operating system.
"The Dell Venue tablets and Inspiron 2-in-1s are designed to be essential companions to power projects, provide entertainment and share meaningful moments with family and friends," said Sam Burd, vice president and general manager of Dell's Personal Computing Product Group, in a statement.
HP on June 1 unveiled a number of new systems, including convertible PCs that can run as tablets or traditional laptops. The Envy x360 offers a 15.6-inch HD display, is powered by a Core processor from Intel and runs Windows 8.1. The Pavilion x360, with a 13.3-inch touch-screen, runs on x86 processors from either Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. In addition, the Split x2 is another convertible system that includes a 13.3-inch display that can detach from the keyboard to become a touch-screen tablet running Windows 8.1. The system includes a battery in both the base and in the tablet.
The convertibles represent a win for Intel, which is pushing such new form factors as a way of bolstering the flagging global PC market. Worldwide PC sales have declined over the past couple of years as business users and consumers have turned their focus to tablets and smartphones.
However, Intel, AMD and other vendors have said that in the first three months of the year, the decline of PC sales has slowed and that the market seems to have begun to stabilize. Analysts and company executives have pointed to Microsoft's ending of support of Windows XP for helping drive PC refresh efforts in businesses.
However, during a conference call with analysts and journalists in April to discuss the company's first-quarter financial numbers, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said there also were other issues in play, including the new form factors like 2-in-1 systems and the falling prices of new PCs.
"So it's a combination of factors that's really driving the stabilization" of the PC market, Krzanich said.
Along with the new PCs, HP also rolled out a new Chromebook—powered by Intel chips and running Google's Chrome OS—as well as a SlateBook that comes in clamshell form factor and runs Android. The SlateBook comes with a 14-inch HD screen, is 16mm thin, offers up to nine hours of battery life and is powered by a Tegra mobile processor from Nvidia.