10 Can't-Miss Tech Products From Computex Taipei

Techies Flock To Taiwan

Computex Taipei, Asia’s largest computing tradeshow that draws in thousands of tech lovers each year, never fails to spark a wave of PC-centric news. And the 2012 event, which took place June 5-9 at the Taipei World Trade Center in Taiwan, was no exception.

From new Ultrabooks to Windows RT to 5G-ready chipsets, here’s a recap of the week’s hottest headlines for those who couldn’t get in on the action firsthand.

Acer's Iconia Tablets Get A Windows 8 Makeover

There was no shortage of Windows 8 at this year’s Computex, and Acer was one of the first to showcase the upcoming OS with the debut of its new Iconia W510 and Iconia W700 convertible tablets.

Both the 10.1-inch W510 and 11.6-inch W700 are powered by Intel, tout multi-touch capabilities and can be twisted and turned into a variety of viewing options. The W510 can be coupled with a detachable keyboard to be used as a traditional clamshell notebook, as a straight-up tablet or as a third form factor called "presentation mode" that involves bending the screen backward to prop up on the keyboard.

The W700 isn't inherently convertible, but it comes with a multipurpose cradle that allows for different viewing angles.

Microsoft, Quanta On The Private Cloud 'Fast Track'

During a Computex keynote address Wednesday, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s OEM Division Steven Guggenheimer unveiled the software giant’s new partnership with Taiwanese PC maker Quanta. The alliance, Guggenheimer explained, will yield new servers, storage and networking equipment, coupled with Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization platform, designed to facilitate the roll-out of private clouds in the enterprise.

"This is the ability to take our server technologies, marry them with the hardware technologies of the ecosystem, our partners here in Taiwan and around the globe, and build essentially a private cloud in a box," Guggenheimer said.

The new offering is part of Microsoft’s larger Private Cloud Fast Track program, which offers a number of solutions intended to reduce the costs, complexity and security risks associated with private cloud deployments.

Asus Grows Its Transformer Lineup

Taiwanese PC maker Asus used Computex as a stage for unveiling a modified version of its Android-based Transformer Prime tablet, running Microsoft’s Windows 8 and flaunting a new half-notebook form factor.

The Transformer Book, as Asus called it, runs on Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors and comes in an 11.6-inch, 13-inch or 14-inch model. The hybrid device can be used as either a tablet or traditional notebook, with the help of a detachable keyboard, and has 4 GB of DDR3 dual-channel RAM.

Asus also introduced its Taichi dual-screen notebook that can be used as a clamshell when opened or as a tablet when closed shut.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Chips Reach Smart TVs, Notebook PCs

Qualcomm Snapdragon processors have grown to be a staple in the mobile market, where they can be found in a slew of today’s hottest smartphones, including Samsung’s highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S III.

But at Computex this week, the San Diego-based chip maker proved that the Snapdragon brand has its place in the notebook and smart TV markets, as well. Qualcomm introduced its new Snapdragon S4 Prime lineup, optimized for next-generation smart TVs and poised to reach clock speeds up to 1.5GHz. Its new Snapdragon S4 Pro lineup, on the other hand, is designed for "ultra-thin" computing devices, including traditional clamshell notebooks.

It’s widely believed that these Snapdragon-fueled notebooks will play host to Windows RT, a variant of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS that is optimized specifically for low-power ARM-based platforms.

AMD Debuts Its New 'Brazos 2.0' E-Series APUs

Even amid all the Ultrabook hype, AMD showed its love for traditional notebook and desktop PCs this week with the launch of its new E-Series APUs, codenamed "Brazos 2.0."

The new E2-1800 and E1-1200 processors are said to deliver a 35-percent boost in PC battery life compared to what was offered by its predecessors, along with ten times faster data transfer rates and clock speeds up to 1.7GHz. AMD said the new chips will yield a richer multimedia experience and are targeted at the "entry-level" PC market, meaning notebooks and desktops selling for $499 or less.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chip maker didn’t entirely shy away from all the next-gen computing buzz; it also showed off a Windows 8 convertible prototype based on its low-power A-Series APUs.

Ivy Bridge Defines A New Ultrabook Era

Ultrabooks, the thin and light notebook form factor coined by Intel last year, have taken the tech industry by storm, with OEMs -- including Dell, HP and Lenovo -- making them the centerpiece of their sprawling PC portfolios.

But at Computex, Intel changed the game by adding a list of new features expected to launch with next-generation Ultrabooks based on its third-generation Ivy Bridge processors. In addition to new security features, like the inclusion of Intel’s Anti-Theft and Identity Protection technology, many Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks will come in multi-touch and convertible form factors.

QNAP Unveils 400TB NAS Solution, New SAS Interface

On Computex Opening Day, network attached storage vendor QNAP offered an alternative to the Ultrabook craze by showcasing its first NAS expansion solution, which touts up to a 400 TB storage capacity, along with a new SAS interface optimized specifically for high-end SMBs.

The expansion can be coupled with QNAP’s TS-x79 series Turbo NAS, the JB-1200U and JB-1600U, to provide a more flexible solution for IT teams looking to grow storage capacity incrementally, as budget allowances and growth requirements change.

By providing the option to add more storage as SMBs need it -- rather than locking them down to a certain capacity from the start -- the NAS expansion solution eliminates the need for IT to invest heavily in storage allotments during initial setup.

Broadcom Paves The Way For 5G SoCs

While most of the mobile world seems to still be warming up to the concept of 4G networks, semiconductor maker Broadcom revealed this week what it claims to be the industry’s first system-on-a-chip (SoC) capable of delivering 5G Wi-Fi.

The Irvine, Calif.-based chip maker said its new SoCs are designed to work hand-in-hand with its own 5G Wi-Fi 802.11ac solutions, including its BCM4360, BCM4352, BCM43526 chipsets, and they are the first out of the gate to combine a high-performance processor, a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch, GbE physical layer transceivers (PHYs), USB 3.0 and traffic accelerators on a single processor.

The result of this combination, Broadcom said, will be a connectivity that enables multiple users to simultaneous stream videos, along with high-bandwidth application downloads that are ten times faster than they were on previous networks.

Fujitsu Unveils New Family Of 'Lifebooks'

Fujitsu contributed to the Ultrabook hoopla at this year’s Computex by ushering in a new line of consumer- and enterprise-focused "Lifebooks."

Both the 14-inch Lifebook U772, which is optimized for enterprise use, and the more consumer-focused 13.3-inch Lifebook UH572, run on Intel’s third-generation Ivy Bridge processors and Microsoft’s Windows 7 OS.

The higher-end U772 boasts a 0.69-inch profile, weighs in at 3.15 pounds and offers up to seven hours of battery life. The slightly larger UH572 has a 0.71-inch profile, weighs 3.5 pounds and gets six hours of battery life.

In accordance with Intel’s updated list of must-have Ultrabook specs, both Lifebooks come equipped with the chip maker’s Anti-Theft and vPro Technology.

LaCie Introduces 4big Rack Office For SMB Storage

Like fellow storage vendor QNAP, LaCie used Computex as a platform for unveiling a new storage offering specific to SMBs.

The Hillsboro, Oregon-based company took the wraps off its new 4big Rack Office solution, designed to provide data protection and secured data sharing for small businesses. The solution, which runs on an Intel 64-bit Atom processors and has 2 GB of RAM, comes equipped with a pre-configured RAID 5 array on four disks and automatic backup for up to 10 PCs and three Macs. LaCie said both in-office and cloud-based file sharing is supported, and, as an add-on, 4big Rack is offered with up to 100 GB of Wuala Secure Cloud Storage for three months.

What’s more, the new solution is powered by Windows Home Server 2011, so LaCie said setup should be fairly straightforward for any SMB familiar with the Windows environment.