The Transformer Book V from Asus. It’s not a robot in disguise but it is a combination of a laptop, smartphone and tablet that could keep consumers guessing.
Asus on Monday announced the Transformer Book V, which is indeed a first in the computing market. It qualifies, for example, as the world’s first five-mode, three-in-one laptop. The laptop sports a detachable 12.5-inch screen that becomes a separate tablet. A 5-inch smartphone docks into the tablet. The Transformer is more than a Swiss Army knife of computing -- it’s also a mishmash of operating systems.
Specifically, the Transformer Book V sports a Windows and Android laptop and tablet, along with an Android smartphone. Asus calls it flexible and revolutionary. But it may confuse or even turn off consumers who are accustomed to choosing the operating systems -- and the mobile devices -- that best meets their needs.
A Mobile Trinity
In laptop mode, the Transformer Book V offers a full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad that runs both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4 KitKat. You can switch between the two operating systems by pressing a button. The laptop offers an Intel Core processor, a 12.5-inch HD display and touch support for Windows 8.1. There’s also 1TB of storage for apps, documents and media.
On the tablet side, the Transformer works as either a Windows 8.1 tablet or Android 4.4 tablet when the phone is docked. Much like with the laptop, users can tap on the screen to switch between operating systems. There’s 128GB of built-in storage. That means you can tap into the Windows Store and Google Play.
But wait . . . the Transformer Book V is also an Android-powered smartphone and the first 5-inch LTE smartphone that comes equipped with an Intel Atom quad-core processor. The smartphone comes stocked with a 2500mah battery that offers up to 10 hours of Web browsing time.
Will it Confuse Consumers?
We caught up with Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis, to get his take on the five-in-one device. He told us Asus’ innovation speaks to the fact that PC manufacturers are struggling to find ways to capture the growth in tablets and smartphones -- which is where all the growth in computing is happening -- and counter the decline in laptop sales.
“Asus is more aggressive than most in trying to come up with novel ways of combining these form factors,” Greengart said. “From a practical perspective Asus is trying to split the difference. From a marketing perspective calling something a three-in-one may get them some attention.”
Despite its originality, Asus may not get a warm reception from consumers. Although the company is going all out with its Lego-style model of snapping computing components together, Greengart said it’s not the way consumers shop for phones, tablets or computers.
“The ability to run multiple operating systems tends to confuse mainstream consumers, not excite them. But Asus is going for it,” Greengart said. “This is a combination of modular building blocks and they are throwing it at the wall and seeing if sticks in any which way. I don’t expect it to.”
Asus is showing off this and other computing innovations at Computex 2014 this week. Availability and pricing was not announced.