Like almost all of the new PC products, ASUS’ new commercial offerings emphasize the surge in AI, with both Intel and Google AI offerings.
The Consumer Electronics Show [CES] has kicked off in Las Vegas. For a channel and commercial-focused publication like ChannelBuzz, CES is not normally a big deal, because as the name implies, the vast majority of products being announced are consumer. There are always a few exceptions, however, typically commercial PCs that are announced along with a flock of consumer products from the same vendor. ASUS announced a large number of new products, with most of them, unsurprisingly, being related to gaming. However, a major announcement was the ZenBook DUO, the first 14″ dual-screen OLED Laptop, which is nominally a consumer device but will have some business appeal. It comes on the heels of two significant business announcements, the ASUS ExpertBook B5 and the ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook Plus
“We are a small company in the PC market, but we are punching well above our weight,” said Sascha Krohn, Global Director of Technical Marketing. “The theme of our new releases overall is transcendence.”
ASUS has been making OLED models for years, but Krohn emphasized that the new Zenbook DUO with dual 14″ OLED displays is highly differentiated from the rest of the market.
“OLED has been a focus to us for a couple of years,” he said. “Others have also had OLED machines, but they were limited editions. We have OLED up and down our portfolio. We have over 65% market share for the OLED laptop market, although that is down from 85% the year before.”
The OLED announcements include ZenBook DUO, the world’s First 14″ Dual-Screen OLED Laptop. It features an Intel Core Ultra 9 processor, two 14″ 3K 120 Hz OLED touchscreens in a premium 1.35 kg ultraportable laptop, and can be used in multiple modes, including dual screen, laptop, desktop, and sharing.
The DUOP 2024 reflects the fact that we have been working on dual keyboards for almost a decade now,” Krohn stated. “It has more screen space, a better second screen, and a better keyboard and touchpad.”
ASUS ZenBook DUO (2024) UX8406 will be available starting from February 2024 in Canada.
The new ZenBook makes use of developing AI capabilities, like most new machines arriving in market now, a trend which will likely continue.
“Boston Group says that by 2028, 80% of PCs will be AI,” said Asma Aziz, Canada Marketing Director at Intel. “We are revving up our entire ecosystem with AI, with all major AI developer toolchains enabled now, including NPU AI-accelerated apps, so it’s not just a processors launch. AI PC will help us unlock new usage models and experiences. Customers have already started flocking to retail to touch these. And we will have 100 million-ready CPUs by 2025, with systems from our OEM partners, with this large install base leading to broad app support.”
Krohn also outlined other new products in the ZenBook and VivoBook lines, while pointing out that the size of both portfolios have been reduced.
“We greatly simplified our VivoBook lineup for CES, and our ZenBook lineup has also been simplified,” he said.
The mainline business ExpertBook series has been complemented by the announcement of the ExpertBook B5 (B5404), an ultralight, 14 inch, AI-ready business machine that extends to the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor, and has a taller 16:10 display for deeper immersion, with optional touchscreen functionality.
ExpertBook B5 leverages Intel’s new AI architecture and ecosystem for intelligent performance and cutting-edge security, while integrating both an AI-powered camera and noise cancelation. This enhances the overall user experience for uninterrupted meetings, and automatically keeps the user’s face centered and adjusts focus to avoid having to adjust the camera mid-chat. In addition, the two-way AI noise-canceling technology employs sophisticated machine-learning techniques to filter sound around the speaker and eliminate noise from the person at the other end of the conversation.
The AI capabilities in this device are significant, but the commercial market is still not completely up on what AI can do for them.
“Its that people in the commercial area are not yet fully aware of AI,” said Nancy Chang, Associate Product Manager, System Business Group at ASUS Canada. “At this stage, it’s still more about us impressing it on them than them asking us. There is still a need to educate the market.”
The ExpertBook B5 is designed for the broad business market, and is not really for gamers or even the prosumer market.
“The B5 is targeted at the enterprise and SMB who need specific things,” Chang said. “Prosumers can buy it, but through retail.”
In addition to superior durability for commercial products and one year of ADP [Accidental Damage Protection], some addition new commercial market features have been added.
“You can now pay a credit card directly through the B5,” Chang said.
ASUS ExpertBook B5 will be available starting from April 2024 in Canada.
The other new commercial product is the ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook, Like Google, ASUS is looking to expand the Chromebook market from the bargain end of the market exclusively, and one which has been aimed mainly at students, to a product with broader use cases and much better performance than before, and with enterprise-grade security that has passed military-grade testing. Accordingly, ASUS is terming it their first Expert-series Chromebook Plus.
“The CX9 series that we had before was SMB and enterprise, with the Chromebook OS,” Chang stated. “This replaces that. It has a Chrome enterprise license built on it, and is more tailored for the SMB and enterprise. It comes in only one spec.”
The CX9 series is powered by the latest Intel Core Ultra 5 processor, with an expansive 14-inch 16:10 touchscreen and support for three 4K displays. Google’s built-in AI video call features enhance clarity and lighting, cancel noise, and blurs the background.
“The CX9 Chromebook is also based on Meteor Lake, and has the latest CPU, not one that is one or two years old, which is more customary in Chromebooks,” Krohn said. “We also put the best webcam sensor in that we could find.”
In Canada the ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook Plus comes with Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, offering protection and security that updates automatically, simple device management in the Google Admin console, and 24/7 support from the experts at Google.
Like the ExpertBook B5, the the ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook, is scheduled to come to market at at MSRP of $CDN 1299, which also differentiates it from traditional student Chromebooks.