Asustek Computer Inc. (ASUS) of Taiwan will make full-scale entry into the market for robust notebook personal computers as early as the fall of 2007. At COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2007 held in Taipei, Taiwan, ASUS exhibited the Hermes Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) with 7-inch LCD display and a robust notebook computer under the brandname N13i that employs the new Centrino Duo platform (codename: Santa Rosa) launched from Intel Corp. in May 2007.
Hermes ensures its shock-resistance and is drip and dust proof through the use of rubber, etc., covering the chassis front surface. The product meets the MIL-STD-810F shock-resistance standard set by the U.S. Department of Defense, so it won't break even if it was dropped from 120 cm above. Classified as IP54 by the water and dust proof standard, it is designed to protect the chassis from splashes from all directions. It employs C7-M, a low power consumption CPU available from VIA Technologies, Inc. of Taiwan. The CPU has a fanless, enclosed structure which is crucial for dustproof without scarifying its heat dissipation design. The product is equipped with a 7-inch display and the backlight is selectable from a fluorescent tube or LED. Although the product on display was equipped with an HDD, a demonstrator says, "We're planning to offer the SSD model for users requiring a higher impact-resistance." A card reader, GPS module and other devices attachable to the upper part of chassis are optionally available.
N13i is a notebook PC equipped with 13.3-inch LCD display and the Core 2 Duo processor. It resembles Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.'s TOUGHBOOK CF-30, except that it employs a biaxial hinge that can rotate the display panel in the horizontal direction. In addition to the MIL-STD-810F standard and IP54 classification, the product meets the MIL-STD-461E standard that defines the requirements of noise-resistance. It is provided with communication modules for wireless LAN supporting IEEE 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth and HSDPA.
ASUS will start shipping samples of these products in late August to early September 2007. Mass production is slated for around November. "We will take advantage of being a latecomer in the robust notebook computer market and employ the latest functions and features to differentiate our products from those of front-runners like Panasonic in terms of price, thereby offering benefits to users," says the demonstrator. The company will provide the products to other computer manufacturers as ODM/OEM while selling them under its own brand. "We are considering selling the standard configuration Hermes at around $700 (USD) and N13i at $3,000 (USD) or less," comments the demonstrator regarding the prices under ASUS brand.