Think of a smartphone manufacturer. Did you think Asus? Okay, maybe you did, but only because you just read the headline. The company makes phones, but they're hardly the best selling. That said, it attracted a lot of eyeballs this year with the release of the ZenFone 2, an affordable phone offering up to 4GB of RAM. And now Asus has announced that said device will get Android 6.0.
Asus hasn't had much of a presence in the US phone market aside from a few unpleasant PadFones, but that's about to change with the ZenFone 2. This device was revealed at CES in January, but now the US variant is official. It's coming May 19th for $199-299, and you can pre-order it tomorrow.
Right now, the ability to cast your Android device's screen to Chromecast is limited to a very small number of devices – mostly the newest Nexus devices and a couple of popular modern handsets like the Galaxy S5 and HTC One. That leaves a lot of users out in the cold who may want to check out the service.
Fortunately, XDA is here to save the day. If you have a rooted handset, there's a simple way to enable casting on your device. It's worth noting that this isn't working on all devices, and most older hardware seems to be completely incompatible.
Of the Big Four American carriers, AT&T has the best selection of Android tablets available... which, admittedly, isn't saying much. Today their shallow ranks get bolstered by two new Samsung tablets, one in the original Galaxy Tab line (which is now the de facto budget option) and one in the new Pro series. The Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 will be available on the carrier starting this Friday, June 6th.
The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is currently the biggest and baddest product in Samsung's entire mobile lineup. As the name implies, it's a 12.2-inch tablet with Sammy's usual Note accoutrements, including a screen with a Wacom digitizer and an included S-Pen stylus.
People seem to kind of like the Asus Transformer series with the optional keyboard docks – it kind of makes sense in a limited way. The PadFone has been a tougher sell, but what if you mashed up those products? Surely that would be the product everyone has been waiting for. Behold, the Transformer Book V, which really is all the things.
This is a (kind of) single modular device that consists of a phone with a brain powered by Intel, a 12.5-inch tablet screen dock, and a keyboard dock with separate hardware. You just stuff the phone in the tablet dock to make it into a tablet, then stuff the tablet into the keyboard dock to make it a laptop.
Asus has lately become the king of anime-style transforming electronics, with their Transformer tablet line and Padfone devices. It looks like Google is paying attention, at least when it comes to conceptual hardware. US patent 8,649,821, granted to Google in February of this year, describes a laptop with a built-in and detachable cell phone, with the two working in tandem for various functions. While Android and Chromebooks aren't specifically mentioned in the patent documentation, it's easy to assume they were on the engineers' minds, since it was filed in September of 2012.
The basic idea is that the laptop can borrow the cell phone's wireless connection for on-the-go Internet access, as well as use the removable handset as a speaker and microphone for VOIP calls and other obvious functions.
While we flew back home yesterday, today officially marks the end of 2014's don't-call-it-the-Consumer-Electronics-Show (seriously, check out the "note to editors" on any official CES press release). Another year of crazy gadgets, an almost inappropriately huge number of televisions, and a whole lot of white particle board walls. I generally look forward to going to most tech conventions - MWC, IFA, GDC, and Google I/O. CES is the one I've grown to have mixed feelings about - it's frantic, almost inconceivably large, and increasingly straining to retain its relevance to the mobile industry.
This year's Android standout was undoubtedly Samsung, who used the relative vacuum of serious tablet announcements at the show to unveil its new Tab Pro and Note Pro lines to the world.
We've already discussed ASUS' fun-loving ZenFone and PadFone Mini, but for those who want a little more out of their gadgets-that-do-more-than-just-one-thing, the Transformer Book Duet should be worth a look. ASUS calls its "four devices in one" since it's an Android tablet, Android laptop, Windows tablet, and Windows laptop, but you can take that for what it's worth – I think it's kind of pushing it. It's just a tablet and a laptop, silly marketing people.
But I digress. From a spec standpoint, the Duet is actually pretty solid. Like most modern laptop/ultrabook/hybrid thingies, there will be various models with Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, as well as varying amounts of storage.
We just got back from a meeting at ASUS's CES suite, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the full portfolio of the company's new Android products (apart from Padfone X, which sadly sat walled off in a glass case). Of great interest to some of you, no doubt, are the company's new ZenFone handsets. Johnny Shih, ASUS's enthusiastic chairman, announced the ZenFone 4, 5, and 6, would be priced at $99, $149, and $199, respectively. With all three phones utilizing dual-core Intel Ivy Trail+ chipsets and powered by Android 4.3, that's certainly an attractive proposition. Were there any immediately apparent downsides, though?
Asus likes to explore unusual designs for its Android devices, as one look at the Padfone X will tell you. Another fresh take on mobile devices announced at CES comes in the form of the Asus Transformer Book Duet. This is a convertible laptop/tablet hybrid that dual-boots Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2. It also packs some serious laptop-grade hardware.