With its new laptops, ASUS takes aim at the MacBook and Surface

The ASUS Transformer 3 Pro and ZenBook 3 take on the likes of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Apple’s MacBook. Can the company best both in one fell swoop?

ASUS took to the stage at Computex Taipei to launch a series of disruptive announcements, between the likes of new Zenfone 3 models and its Zenbo home assistant. However, the company’s new portable PC lineup – including the likes of the ASUS Transformer Pro 3 and ZenBook 3 – is set to take on the big leagues. The question is – can ASUS do it?
The ASUS Transformer Pro 3 naturally takes its inspiration from a certain Microsoft product; the Surface Pro 4. However, ASUS has cunningly crafted out three distinct niches for each of its new devices; the Transformer 3 Pro brings high-end specs, the Transformer 3 is the mid-range model, and the Transformer Mini provides a lightweight entry into ultraportable – and ultra-adaptable – computing.
Whereas Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is preceded by the now obsolete Surface Pro 3, and sits underneath the premium Surface Book, the Transformer line now has distinct offerings for each price point. ASUS has long been offering quality transformer designs, and its newest offerings capitalises on two areas of the market which Microsoft hasn’t yet turned its attention to.
Whereas other manufacturers limit their Surface Pro-esque contenders to the mid-range, ASUS could see renewed interest at its bottom end. While the Transformer Pro 3 and Transformer 3 carry a 12.6″ display and USB Type C support, Thunderbolt 3 connections, Harmon Kardon speakers, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, the Transformer 3 Pro arrives as a heftier offerings with a steeples single.
Read: ASUS announces the Zenfone 3 alongside new Deluxe and Ultra models
The Transformer 3 Pro’s Intel Core i7 processor, (maximum of) 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM and a 13 megapixel primary camera certainly equates to a formula Microsoft should be wary of.
Alternatively, the ASUS Transformer 3 takes the form a lighter offering, with a 512GB SSD and 8GB of RAM.. In this regard, ASUS’ standard Transformer offering is nigh on par with where the Surface Pro 3 was a year ago, minus the heft of its price tag.
The ASUS Transformer Mini rounds out the offering in an area the company has already seen success; that of the small, ultraportable hybrid PC. Whereas the previous Transformer models offered Intel Core power, the Mini offers an Atom X5 Processor and up to a claimed 11 hours of battery life. For consumers hinging between a budget Windows device or a low-end MacBook Air, the Mini is a well-positioned offering. ASUS has yet to offer what exact internal specifications the Mini will bear.
The ASUS Transformer Pro 3 is set to retail from $999, the Transformer 3 from $799, while the Mini will retail upwards from $349 USD.
Comparatively, the ZenBook 3 is aimed at another niche of the market owned by Apple’s MacBook. ASUS revealed its ZenBook 3 with the revelation that the device weighs in at 2 points and measures in at 11.9mm thick; besting Apple’s efforts by a small margin.
Incorporating a full Intel Core i7 processor, the ZenBook 3 further outperforms its Cupertino rival, and accommodates 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. With a screen covered by Gorilla Glass 4 and a fingerprint scanner for use with Windows Hello, the ZenBook 3 is a featherweight contender with a heavyweight punch.
Starting at $999 USD, the ZenBook 3 further accommodates a Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type C port for charging, and supports a claimed nine hours of battery life.
With its new Transformer and ZenBook offerings, ASUS’ intent has been made more than clear; it wants to rapidly outcompete established names in specific market niches.
Only time may tell where ASUS’ fortunes lie, though the company’s technical feats appear nothing short of impressive. Specifically, the company’s aggressive focus on specs while retaining a commitment to design leave ASUS an oddity amongst other Windows OEMs. While the likes of HP and Acer have focussed their efforts in high-end computing on gaming, Acer have remained steadfastly committed to maintaining a core lineup aimed at a diverse consumer base.
Read: ASUS’ Zenbo is a home assistant with a face
What are your thoughts on the ASUS Transformer 3 line, as well as the ZenBook 3? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA