At one point when the tablets came to the scene, many people including yours truly thought they would mark the end of the laptops. I remember seven years ago, I talked quoted Standard media take on the Government changed of tack to buy tablets instead of the laptops for kids. Apparently by then Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi said that there were clear projections that in the next five years, the laptops that were being used by majority of the people then would be replaced by tablets thus there was need to be ahead of time with the tablets instead of laptops to avoid the gadgets being declared obsolete.
Of course five year went by and instead of the laptops being declared obsolete, the tablets ran away with that honour and been dying a slow painful death. The reality is that Tablets never sorted the main shortcoming which was the lack of productivity. Doing so was the only way for the tablets to actually replace the laptops.
Just a few days ago, I was looking at how the Phone manufacturers were trying to compensate for the size and functions that were envisioned for the tablets. What I did not looked at then is how the laptop manufacturers also have been trying to do the same. This include the use of touch screen as well as reduced size and ultra-thin design.
Nothing signify this move more than the Asus ZenBook 14. Asus says it herald the new era of ultraportable design and I agree with that sentiment. Through the new bazels and other design tweaks, Asus came up with extremely small laptop, with 92% screen to body ratio. The device measures 31.9×19.9×1.59 cm and weighs 1.19kg. It is 14-inch laptop but smaller than most 13-inch laptops and that is something to say the least.
Before I go further let me confess that for a long time, I have never been Asus fan. First I was in the HP corner and then I moved to Lenovo but when I saw the Asus ZenBook 14, I was blown away by the design, the display and the computing power. I thought I was alone on this but when I showed it to some of my friends, their responses were just wows. For the ladies, they said this is the laptop to go for, as they can easily slip it in their handbags. And I am sure they are already consulting their bank accounts and the accountants to see if they are in the positions to acquire one. So what will it cost any of them? Only Ksh. 150,000.
Though beautiful, for me personally a device is always about the functionalities. First, let us look at the core of any computing device, the performance. One aspect of small or slimmed laptops has been the compromised performance specifications and Asus somehow have managed to keep them intact. It comes with iCore7, 10th-gen intel processor, backed up with 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD storage. When I looked at the 16GB of RAM, it reminded me of the recent tweet by Larry Madowo where he called for help for his 67 open tabs on 2 browsers, some which he claimed had been there for months.
I know many of the hard core or super users really identified with that statement but some of them are always frustrated due to their low amount of the RAM on their computers. The painful point for those with computers with lower RAM, is having to decide which tab to close to avoid the screen from hanging or use the Task Manager to kill the software eating more memory. When comes to the software eating the memory, the main culprits in many cases happen to be the browsers.
With Asus ZenBook 14, I went to the extreme end to open over 300 tabs on three different browsers and it handles that like nothing. I also tried a number of video and photo editing software with ease. Though not meant for gaming the device is still capable of doing a bit of it.
The CPU of the device feature four cores and up to eight computing threads with up to a 4.9GHz boost frequency. And that is something and it is the main reason why I think this laptop justify its price tag.
One very interesting feature of the ZenBook 14 is the the ScreenXeprt software, ScreenPadTM 2.0, which has been described by Asus as providing an efficient way to interact with the laptop. It is basically a secondary touchscreen that you can use for multitasking. Among others it has Quick Key to enable the review guide for the keyboard sequences, Handwriting for the natural text input and Number Key or NumPad for the rapid data entry. The ScreenPad which has smartphone like interface can be used interchangeably with the laptop main laptop screen. The App Switcher enables users to use any app running on the ScreenPad on the main screen and vice versa.
For someone who like data like me, well, not the hyped big data, I found the NumberPad an interesting feature of the ScreenPad. The NumberPad has LEDs underneath the touchpad. When NumberPad is activated, the LEDs light up so that the user can see the numbers on the touchpad. When turned off the NumberPad looks like any other touchpad
Asus WiFi Master
For the world to unlock greater connectivity and to bridge the digital divide seen in many parts of developing nations like Kenya, WiFi is one piece of technology which is capable of helping in that direction. But currently as it is, the technology is limited, in terms of the reach. The maximum radius WiFi can cover is about 100 metres in a sparsely populated rural areas, but when comes to Urban centers, the radius is about 10 meters due to the buildings. There have been a number of attempts to have a wide spread use of WiFi in Kenya, some being more successful than the others. On the success side is the Mawingu WiFi which is operated around Nanyuki and Nyeri, backed my Microsoft. Others which initially looked promising but later went under were the commercial one by Wananchi Group, Wazi WiFi and Nakuru county free WiFi that was initially championed by Itumbi.
The failure of some of these initiative is the reason why this technology need to be improved. Apart from the radius or the distance that WiFi is capable of covering, the other important fact about the strength of the WiFi is the quality and design of the equipment at the either end of the given WiFi’s placement. Asus WiFi Master technology enable the users to enjoy faster and reliable WiFi connections at greater distances. According to Asus the technology offers up to 12X faster connection, at a speed of 1734Mbps and up to 300 meters away from the router.
Once charged the ZenBook 14, is capable of going the whole day long with active use. With ZenBook 14 the days of fighting for the power sources at the conferences are over. Kenya power can also take their L and move on. The battery on the device can go up to 14 hours under active use.