Computex 2015: Brave front by PC market despite weak demand
By Keith Liu June 10, 2015
- 130K visitors over 5 days, including 38K international visitors from 165 countries
- Loads of component developments, catchy devices on display
TAIWAN’S premier technology expo and the world’s second largest computer trade show Computex, which wrapped up last week, is proof that the PC (personal computer) market is still buzzing with activity, in spite of research firm IDC’s projections of a fourth consecutive year of decline for PC shipments.
Computex, co-organised by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (Taitra) and Taipei Computer Association, now in its 35th year and spread over five days, was projected to have seen a total visitor count that exceeded 130,000.
More importantly, organisers say that the visitors who make the deals happen – international buyers – numbered more than 38,000 from 165 countries, many of them from Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India.
According to Taitra’s statistics, Asian companies accounted for 76% of the show’s international buyers, followed by North America with 10.6%.
There was also a marked increase of visitors from Bangladesh (120% more than last year), Vietnam (a 79% increase) and the United Arab Emirates or UAE (which saw a 26% jump).
In terms of big announcements, chip giant Intel used its keynote address to talk up its sixth-generation processor platform, dubbed ‘Skylake’, which would bring wireless display (WiDi) and wireless charging to PCs by the end of the year.
But beyond the introduction of a reference design computer and some handsets, details were scarce.
What Intel did launch at Computex however, were 10 new products in its fifth-generation Core line (pic, right), of desktop and mobile processors, dubbed ‘Broadwell-H.’
These chips come with a new graphics processor called ‘Intel Iris Pro graphics 6200’ that promises twice the performance of current chips.
The world’s leading chipmaker also showcased the new version of its high-speed data transfer interface ‘Thunderbolt 3’ (pic below) which will now support the USB-C standard, thereby ensuring better compatibility across a larger number of devices.
Compared with the normal USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3 is almost four times faster at 40Gbps, and is able to support a double 4K display setup.
Chip off the old block
Not to be outdone, rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) also launched its ‘Carrizo’ A-series processors, the sixth generation of the company’s range of Accelerated Processing Units or APUs.
This solution brings together the CPU (central processing unit) and graphics accelerator into a single chip. AMD claims the new range of chips will provide better gaming performance and longer battery life for laptops and all-in-one desktops.
Some analysts are positive on the new hardware. Wells Fargo’s David Wong is quoted in Barron’s, writing that “the range of new processors for desktops, notebooks and tablets, and systems using these processors, will help support consumer PC demand in the seasonally strong second half of this year.
“We believe that the rollout of tablet products using Intel’s SoFIA chips will help Intel eliminate subsidies associated with its tablet chips, and reduce its losses associated with its tablet/ smartphone product lines,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese chip giant MediaTek, the second largest maker of mobile processors for smartphones and tablets, told reporters during the company’s media and analyst cocktail party at Computex that the company is developing a mobile chip for Google’s Chromebooks, and will enter the market by the end of the year.
The company showed off a prototype of a Chromebook running on MediaTek’s 64-bit chipset at the show.
MediaTek typically provides chipsets at lower prices in the smartphone market compared with rivals such as Qualcomm and Nvidia, and analysts are expecting that its entry would result in even lower prices for Chromebooks going forward.
Still, that didn’t take away the attention from the company’s bread and butter. It announced a new octa-core smartphone chipset that provides faster (Category 6) 4G (Fourth Generation) network performance.
The ‘Helio P10’ (pic above) is a premium mid-range chipset, a 64-bit System on Chip (SOC) that includes the octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU running at 2GHz and a dual-core Mali-T860 graphics chip.
Expect smartphones brandishing this chipset to arrive during the latter part of 2015.
Components aside, there were also plenty on offer when it came to PCs, tablets and wearables.
PC maker Dell garnered a Computex Gold award for its XPS 13 (pic above), one of the smallest 13-inch laptops with super-slim 5.2mm bezels around the display.
As such, the overall size feels like an 11-inch notebook – but open up the cover and you’re greeted with a pleasantly large ‘edge-to-edge’ screen.
The anodised aluminium cover is beautifully sleek and the palm rest is made from carbon fibre with a soft touch coating, making it really comfortable to use.
Taiwan’s Asus, on the other hand, earned 14 wins at Computex – but the one thing that stood out for us was its 12.5-inch Transformer T300CHI notebook-tablet 2-in-1 (pic above).
Powered by the fanless Intel Core M and sporting a WQHD IPS display (2560 x 1440 resolution), this ultra slim notebook made from aluminium with diamond cut edges turns into a tablet seamlessly, simply by detaching it from the keyboard.
Held together by magnets, the entire package feels premium, yet the price for this unit start at a reasonable US$699.
On the Android tablet front, it was probably Acer that came up with the boldest, if overly flashy design.
The Acer Predator 8 is powered by the Intel Atom x7 processor but the unique proposition here is the four front-facing speakers. Targeted at gamers, this 8-inch tablet is expected to arrive in September.
For those who are still waiting out for an Android-based smartwatch that fits your fashion sense, the Asus ZenWatch 2 may the answer.
Although the original ZenWatch never made it to our shores, Asus has informed Digital News Asia that the ZenWatch 2 will be made available in South-East Asian markets.
The Android Wear-powered watch will come in two sizes and three different colours, as well as 18 different straps, allowing a high degree of personalisation.
Most importantly it is rated IP67 for water resistance (you can use it in the shower) and has an improved magnet-based charging mechanism.
The next Computex show will be held from May 31 to June 4, 2016.
AMD unveils 6th generation A-Series processor
Acer unveils whole slew of new devices at Computex
Intel announces 5th-gen Core processor family
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