The CES product destined to fail (as an owner)
So, CES came and went. In its second year of it being mostly a digital event we got to see big tech players flexing their Research, Development, and PR muscle once again. Well, them and auto manufacturers and tech companies who want to be auto manufacturers. However, amidst all the new screen technology that will be on our living rooms in just five years, I found that the one product that I was the most interested in was in the ASUS stand.
No, it wasn’t the admittedly really cool Zenbook 17 Fold, although I can’t wait for Apple to take that idea and just fit an enormous taptic engine in it to make one of the sections feel like a giant keyboard. Instead, I was actually smitten by the ROG Flow Z13.
There’s a very good reason for that. For the past seven years or so, one of my favorite devices has been the Microsoft Surface Pro. I like its form factor; I like that nowadays most of the models are passively cooled while still having decent enough performance. I like that it’s the size of an iPad Pro, but with a full-fat operating system so I can mess and tinker with it to my hearts’ content. Most of all, I like that I never need to go look for a “proper computer” if I need a specific piece of software. I started with a 3, and when that one died in a very unusual and extremely messy elliptical incident, it was replaced with a pro 4; that one is now showing its age thanks to its inability to receive an update for Windows 11, not to mention a quickly diminishing battery capacity and its pathetic (and non-upgradeable) 4GB of ram. Still, even for shooting quick emails and reading a book, it was basically unparalleled until the OLED iPad Pro came around.
Asus has decided to take that formula to its natural conclusion. The ROG Flow is much thicker than the Surface, at 0.7”, but it makes use of that space with a 3050Ti for gaming, as well as expanded IO (an HDMI and a Type-A port for when you just can’t carry a dongle). A 1920 x 1200 display at 120hz (people who hate money and logic can have a 3840x2400 display instead). All great stuff. However, there was only one thought going through my head as I attempted to get my head around the product.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea is great, and I hope that Asus manages to deliver on what was one hell of a presentation and a hypealicious product page. But consider, if you are looking for a gaming machine…why would you buy a tablet?
“Well!” says Asus, “we have managed to improve cooling substantially by applying the tablet from factor in conjunction with the vapor chamber and liquid metal compound. Plus, we have moved all of the heat generating components from under your keyboard”.
Great, melts my screen, not my hands.
Then there’s the matter of pricing. I have no idea how much ASUS dropped on this but I bet it wasn’t cheap. And if the device itself isn’t, people are going to flock immediately to one of their other traditional form factor offerings, maybe even one with more processing and graphic power for the same price.
Finally, there’s all of the disadvantages of the Surface. The kickstand means it requires a lot more space to “Open” than a traditional laptop, it’s incompatible with most stands so you will hunch over it, the keyboard needs to be a marvel of engineering to be good, and the next time someone uses “You should just use the touchscreen” in response to a subpar touchpad, I will bludgeon them with a replica of the first computer mouse ever made.
It’s without a doubt the most exciting product to me from the entire show. However, I suspect that when my Surface Pro 4 finally dies I will have to really, seriously take a look at an iPad…lord knows Brydge will have me covered when I need a KB/Touchpad combo.