Some say the PC is dead, but it’s just evolving. And that evolution was on full display at Computex 2013, which attracted more than 36,000 people to Taipei eager to learn about the next big things in computing. Intel dominated this year’s event with a new Haswell chip that delivers much improved battery life for sleeker next-generation Ultrabooks and 2-in-1 hybrid devices.
Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Office would be included for free in smaller Windows 8 slates hitting the market this summer and beyond. Android tablets also played a role at the show, with Intel’s latest Atom chips finding their way inside some models. After meeting with dozens of companies and evaluating a plethora of new gadgets and technologies, these innovations rose to the top. Here is our list of the Best of Computex 2013 Award winners.
Best Tablet: Acer Iconia W3
The Iconia W3 is the first 8-inch tablet to run the full version of Windows 8, meaning it can handle desktop applications as well as touch-friendly Modern apps. The Iconia W3 also comes with Microsoft Office for free, adding more value to this $379 slate. Acer’s newest tablet is powered by a 1.8-GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor and comes with a 1280 x 800 resolution display. Expect up to 8 hours of work and play on a charge. With an optional full-size keyboard, Windows 8 and Microsoft Office, the Acer Iconia W3 could give iPad Mini some stiff competition.
Best Hybrid Device: ASUS Transformer Book Trio
While laptops with detachable keyboards aren’t anything new, the ASUS Transformer Book Trio takes the hybrid idea one step further by incorporating two CPUs into one device. The 11.6-inch full HD display functions as a stand-alone Windows 8 or Android tablet, thanks to its Intel Atom Z2580 CPU, while the base is powered by an Intel 4th Generation Core i7-4500 CPU. ASUS calls it the Trio because when connected to a monitor, the Haswell-powered keyboard acts as a Windows 8 desktop PC. That means you’ll be able to use the base and tablet portions of this hybrid at the same time. We can’t wait to review the ASUS Transformer Book Trio when it ships in Q3.
Best Peripheral: Creative Senz3D Webcam
While today’s mobile devices and laptops emphasize the importance of touch-screen technology, tomorrow’s gadgets will be all about perceptual computing. The new Creative Senz3D gesture-based webcam, demonstrated by Intel, uses two camera lenses to create a deeper depth of field than competing gadgets such as the Leap Motion and Microsoft’s Kinect. Rather than just detecting motion, the Creative Senz3D creates a skeletal map of your hand to notice even the slightest of movements. Intel says we’ll eventually see this technology integrated into notebooks and tablets, but the webcam itself is expected to launch next quarter.
Best Enabling Tech: Intel 4th-Generation Core (Haswell)
Intel’s fourth-generation Core-series processors, otherwise known as Haswell, bring a host of improvements to laptops and 2-in-1 hybrid devices running Windows 8. This time around, Intel’s primary focus was on creating a robust but power-sipping CPU; the company estimates that battery life will improve by as much as 20 percent over the previous generation’s chips. It’s not just about power savings, though. Haswell also brings a series of new graphics chips to the table, including two high-end offerings that pack some serious firepower.
Best Laptop: Razer Blade 14
Razer has bottled lightning. The 14-inch Razer Blade notebook crams a fourth-generation Intel Core processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M GPU into a 4.1-lb., 0.66-inch frame. The sleek notebook also features a vibrant 1600 x 900 display and a custom keyboard courtesy of Razer for a premium gaming experience. Currently holding the title of “world’s thinnest gaming notebook,” Razer has put the competition on notice.