TAIWAN: ASIA'S BIGGEST annual computer trade show Computex kicked off earlier this week, rolling into its 37th year. Held in the colourful yet somewhat damp Taiwanese capital of Taipei (we can blame the monsoon season for that), Computex is renowned for its knack of overwhelming any foreign attendee with its extreme humidity, high temperatures and crazy press parties.
This year's conference was no exception, welcoming the usual swarm of hardware exhibitors, partners, visitors, and of course press from across the world as they sweat and condensate perpetually while running between its three humongous exhibition halls that are filled with the latest in computer tech.
Whether its brand new chip, gadgets, components or software and services, every Computex can usually be defined by a theme. Last year we saw VR take centre stage, and the year before that it was all about Widows 10 convertibles.
So what was it all about this year? Well, read on and find out.
As predicted, Computex had its fair share of announcements, with a bulk of them coming from some of the world's biggest names in tech, such as hometown OEMs Asus and Acer, old-timers Dell, and a few newcomers to the Asian trade show. However, this year's most noticeable trend was the return of an old favourite: the good ol' laptop.
That's right: all those hundreds of news stories we published on the back of analysts' expectations threatening the end of laptops - largely due to the rise and success of tablets in the last few years - might well have just been proven wrong.
Almost every major tech vendor that had a presence at the show announced not just one, or two, but a host of different laptops, with no tablets in sight (with one exception).
Acer announced a bunch of laptops, as did Samsung, Gigabyte MSI and Asus, which announced five different machines, along with a really fascinating router, sigh. There were barely any wearables or new VR devices around, and the ones that certainly weren't new. The only other type of device that made an appearance was the all-in-one desktop. It seemed Computex 2017 was a #TBT year for tech.
It's probably a fair assumption to make that the majority of consumers are either bored of tablets because the novelty has finally worn off (and they've realised they'd much rather do everything you can do on tablet on their smartphones) or they've already got one and don't use it enough to justify an upgrade.
Laptops are the new, er, tablet? Who knows anymore. But one thing for sure is, consumers just can't give up their physical keyboards.
Chips, chips, chips, Chi-chi-chi-chips: EVERYBODY!
Of course, laptops weren't the only thing to be announced at the massive trade show, which is actually the world's second largest behind CeBIT in Germany. With every year that passes, Computex becomes just as much about the components powering the things we run to the show floor to get hands-ons with as it does the devices themselves.
This year, the usual semiconductor culprits Intel, AMD, and Nvidia - along with ARM and even Qualcomm took centre stage in the Computex news announcements arena, launching their respective chips that will shape what sort of devices we'll see at trade shows in the years to come. And guess what, many of these announcements indicated improved performance and form factors for...you guessed it. Laptops.
Nvidia claimed to revolutionise the gaming laptop forever thanks to a new design approach that it says will make gaming laptops 3x thinner and 3x more powerful than previous models. Called Max-Q, the new design architecture boasts optimisations to the firm's Pascal architecture, which will see GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 1080 fit inside gaming laptops and will apparently be available to buy later next month.
AMD used the show to show off its new 16-core Ryzen 9 CPU, the Ryzen 9 1998X. The CPU represents the part dubbed ‘Threadripper' that the company revealed details of at its analyst day two weeks ago, and comes just a day after Intel unveiled its own 18-core Skylake-X Core i9 at the show, also.
Qualcomm, who usually doesn't give a frig when it comes to Computex, even turned up to the party and announced that it's teamed with Microsoft to launch a new generation of laptops by the likes of Asus, HP and Lenovo, which will be powered by the firm's latest Snapdragon 835 processor.
See, there you go: even the chip announcements are fuelling future laptop plans. The future is bright; the future is clamshell shaped. µ
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