rAge 2015: ASUS breakfast meet and greet

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rAge expo has always been a great place to meet manufacturers, talk to them about their brands, and get to meet some cool people who work on the products we end up reviewing. Every year, the ASUS stand has been a big draw for the event and the public’s interest, and ASUS invited me to join their media breakfast session on Friday morning and see some of their new products. Hit the jump for more.

ASUS as a brand in South Africa has been really strong, with the company revealing at the gathering that out of approximately 8,000 gaming notebooks sold each month, 5,000 of those are ASUS products. That’s quite a number, given that our market is still relatively small for the amount of money that typically gets spent on technology here.

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While a lot of things weren’t really new or technically interesting, I did manage to snap some photos of a couple of gems. Like the notebook pictured above, the ASUS N552VX. It went on sale recently overseas, but it’s not locally available just yet. It has a Core i7-6700HQ inside, as well as 12GB of DDR3-2133 system memory, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M, options for both mSATA and SATA storage and the option of a full HD panel, or a 4K IPS display. Availability is still far out and might happen in Q4 2015, but the price is expected to be around R16,999, which is truly wallet-searing.

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Also of interest was the ASUS Zenbook UX305FA, a refresh/update to the UX305 family of ultrabooks. This one packs in Intel’s Core M 5Y71 dual-core, hyperthreaded processor, 8GB of RAM, Intel HD graphics, a 256GB SSD as standard, and an optional 3200 x 1800 resolution IPS display with an anti-glare covering. The chassis is made completely out of metal, and it feels great in the hand, placing roughly in the same weight class as a Macbook Air. Pricing isn’t determined yet, but availability will be in November of 2015.

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ASUS also had some examples of their latest Zenpad Z170CG. These are 7-inch tablets with IPS displays and a native resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. While their size and design isn’t very interesting, the tablets are running Intel’s latest SoFIA quad-core SOC, the C3230, with Mali 450 graphics. There’s only 1GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC memory, which is middling at best, but these are very Nexus-like devices, and they should be reasonably cheap. They’ll play Fallout Shelter or Hearthstone just fine.

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I also got to play with the Strix headset and these are so damn comfortable and well-built that they feel as if they’d last for years. The desk-mounted volume control feels good, but it would be cumbersome to have and to lug around if you’re using it with a notebook, or going to LANs frequently. The ear cups are also designed really well, and it feels like I could fit a hearing aid in there really well.

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With the breakfast finished and the people beginning to disperse, some cosplayers appeared for picture opportunities. ASUS does seem to understand the market they’re selling products to, and they’re trying to stay on the same level as their customers to understand their needs. The event was fairly chilled and the atmosphere was light, although I had to stop myself from giggling while reading the product specifications – every laptop with discrete graphics only had “Intel HD graphics” typed up in their specs sheet.

rAge expo continues tomorrow! Make sure you come join in the fun.

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