COMPUTEX - Asustek previews Net radio, overclocking laptop

Asustek showed off some new gadgets, including an Internet radio with iPod port and a laptop PC built for microprocessor overclocking.

If the Internet radio with iPod port and laptop PC built for microprocessor overclocking that Asustek Computer showed off on Monday are any indication of things to come at the Computex Taipei 2007 trade show, then be prepared for a few surprises.

Asustek designed the C90 laptop PC for overclocking by adding extra heat sinks and other cooling systems to ward off overheating, the company said at a news conference ahead of the Computex trade show, which opens Tuesday. It plans to sell a barebones version of the device worldwide so users and companies can add whatever microprocessors, graphics processors, memory and optical disc drives they want, as well as offer its own laptops aimed at the high-end market, meaning the price could top US$2,000 on some models.

Users looking to lower their laptop costs can add a desktop PC processor to the C90. The cooling systems ensure the laptop can handle desktop microprocessors, which are normally less expensive and more powerful than processors aimed at laptops. The major drawback with a desktop processor in a laptop, however, is that it uses more power, so battery life would suffer.

The C90 will debut worldwide in mid-June.

  • Watch the video of the C90 laptop, Internet Radios and PC Web cameras here
The company also showed off two Internet radios that operate from wireless Internet connections. They don't need to be hooked up to a PC. The main difference between the two is that the Asustek Internet Radio 3 (AIR 3), comes with an iPod dock on top. When users plug in an iPod, they can listen to their favorite songs from speakers inside the AIR 3.

The device also includes a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port, allowing users to plug in flash sticks and listen to songs off them instead, according to Chris Yu, product manager at Asustek's digital home division.

Despite the USB, the device will not play songs from digital music players other than the iPod, he said.

The AIR 3 will launch in time for end-of-the-year holidays in the U.S. and Taiwan, Yu said, and cost around US$400. The smaller AIR 1, which does not include an iPod port, will cost US$200.

Asustek also showed off two high quality PC Web cameras. These 2-megapixel cameras will be out at by the end of August in Europe, the Asia Pacific and Taiwan. They will launch in the U.S. next year. The difference between the two is that the one camera has an auto-focus lens. It costs about US$20 more than the one without an auto focus lens. The company expects the cameras to cost between US$90 and US$110.

The Asus A33 media player aims to combine a stereo receiver, DVD player and VCR (video cassette recorder) all in one. But it's not cheap. The media player costs US$1,600, equipped with a Super Multi DVD (digital video disc) rewriter, a 320G byte hard drive, a dual channel TV tuner, embedded amplifier and wireless (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11n) connections, and allows full HD 1080p TV recording.

Asustek also plans to offer lower-end models and will produce the devices for partner companies, possibly requiring some specs to be changed. An A33 without the amplifier, for example, will cost under US$1,000.

"You have to offer dual channel recording these days," said Terry Huang, a marketing specialist at Asustek. "People may want to watch one show while they record another, or two others. Some day, we'll have to put 10 tuners on so people can record multiple TV shows."

The A33 will be available in August in Taiwan and in September in other parts of Asia, Huang said. By the first quarter of 2008, he expects the company to launch its first high-definition disc player, likely a Blu-ray Disc device.

"We prefer Blu-ray because the storage space is bigger," Huang said. The company hasn't put one out yet because the cost of such devices remains high and there aren't enough movies and other content yet available for the devices, he said.

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Dan Nystedt

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