Asustek readies new bamboo and Bang & Olufsen laptops

The new laptop families will be available in the U.S. in late June

Asustek Computer Thursday showed off its latest collection of laptops made using bamboo material as well as a family of laptops with Bang & Olufsen sound systems.

The laptops made with bamboo casing material are not the company's first. Asustek debuted bamboo laptops a few years ago. They emphasized Asustek's commitment to the environment, said the company's chairman, Jonney Shih, at a news conference in Taipei. The use of renewable materials and attention to power-saving designs have been good for Asustek's brand, he said.

The material has been lauded as a good alternative to the plastics normally used in laptops because bamboo is tough, easy to find, and grows fast. But polymers added to the material to make it more heat resistant in laptops also mean it's harder for it to break down or be recycled.

The current family of U Bamboo laptops all feature the latest USB 3.0, use Microsoft Windows 7 software, Intel Core i5-450M microprocessors, Nvidia graphics cards, 500GB hard disk drives (HDDs) and 2GB of DDR3 (double data rate, third generation) memory chips. They differ mainly in screen size.

The U33Jc has a 13.3-inch LCD screen and an 8-cell lithium-ion battery and will cost NT$40,900 (US$1,290) in Taiwan, while the U43Jc sports a 14.1-inch screen and 6-cell battery for NT$42,900 (US$1,360), the same battery and price as the U53Jc, with a 15.6-inch screen.

Asustek will also sell two other bamboo models, the U35 and U45 that are nearly identical in component makeup to the others but are slightly less expensive because they use USB 2.0. The U35, with a 13.3-inch screen and 8-cell battery, is NT$37,900 (US$1,200), while the U45 is NT$39,900 (US$1,260) and has a 14.1-inch screen and 8-cell battery.

Pricing will vary by markets due to different tariffs and other costs in different countries, an Asustek representative said.

The company will also start shipping its N90 Bang & Olufsen wide-screen laptop in mid-June.

The laptop, which boasts an 18.4-inch high definition screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution and huge speakers on either side of the screen, was first shown off at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January.

It will carry an Intel Core i7-720M processor inside, as well as an Nvidia graphics card, USB 3.0, 8GB of DDR3 and a 1000GB HDD for the price of NT$84,800 (US$2,680).

The wide screen and massive speakers on the laptop give it a distinctive look because they are larger than the lower half of the laptop, so when closed look like an oversized lid.

The new Asustek laptops will all start shipping around mid-June and are aimed first at North America. Shipments to Asia will follow shortly thereafter, then Europe.

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