After an invigorating week on the ground here in Taiwan, Friday offered up the final two visits of ITProPortal's exclusive TAITRA-led press tour. During our time here, we've grabbed some great scoops, including breaking the news of the arrival of Asus' PadFone 2 well before the European hack pack enjoyed its morning espressos in Milan, as well as meeting with intriguing young firms like Apple accessory maker Just Mobile and uncovering AAEON's plans for 5in Android tablets in 2013. And yesterday, multi-pronged electronics giant BenQ ensured that the last of our reports filed here in Taipei were ripe with juicy news and insight.
BenQ DC G1 cleared for UK landing
One of the most exciting things about spending time with BenQ was the opportunity to get hands-on with its latest flagship digital camera, the G1 (see slideshow, below), otherwise known as the world's thinnest swivel-screen snapper. Measuring in at 114 x 62.5 x 25.5 mm and weighing an untaxing 195g (without battery and microSD card), this 14-megapixel capable camera features an f/1.8 aperture lens capturing images in full HD (1080p). It also includes night shot, defocusing and high-speed shooting (at 6fps) as well the aforementioned 3in LCD swivel-screen. Rounding out the key specifications, the G1 has built-in memory of 82MB and card storage of up to 32GB if you go the SDHC route, or 4GB via a standard HD card.
The camera is currently available in a number of European markets, selling for €259 before shipping via BenQ's online store. However, its UK status has remained shrouded in mystery for some time, with British consumers wanting to get this Nikon Coolpix S9300 rival having to cope with an unsightly continental adapter to facilitate their shooting.
However, ITProPortal is pleased to exclusively announce that senior BenQ product manager Michael Chen confirmed to us during a private discussion that a UK-specific G1 model will land "before Christmas." Pushed to be a bit more specific, we managed to get a "from November" out of Mr Chen, though he added that it's still unsure whether the photography device will get a physical high street presence – the UK was a "tough market" to crack, BenQ admitted.
The Taiwanese consumer electronics giant also gave us a welcome glimpse into the future, revealing that it was prepping a Wi-Fi enabled f/1.8 aperture lens camera and also a wireless charging model for 2013 – the end of Q2 or beginning of Q3 cited as broad arrival dates for Europe.
Medicine for a financial crisis
With the G1 and other exciting products creating an impressive consumer product arsenal, especially in terms of affordability, BenQ certainly can't be said to be lacking ambition. Indeed, the firm made some properly bullish claims with regards to its financial prospects during our visit, with VP of marketing Adrian Ching (see photo, below) venturing that the impact of the global financial crisis was "insignificant" for his employer.
"In the private sector, especially in retail, we see businesses still growing, Consumers still have money in their pockets," Mr Ching pointed out.
Like many of the Taiwanese electronics firm I've visited during the last week, one of BenQ's evolving strengths is its operations within niche markets, so perhaps this why - at least in public - it is venturing such a rosy outlook.
As with Thursday's visit to Aver Information, the education segment in particular is one of the firm's target sectors, with BenQ revealing that its projector line increasingly features products that can be targeted at schools as well as home theatre buffs. To that end, it showcased the GP10 during our product demonstration session, with the compact, full HD, short-throw LED projector weighing just 1.5kg looking like a serious option in both the living room, the classroom, and other environments where mobility is an asset.
BenQ's environmental portfolio is also growing, with solar power compatibility emerging as a key feature of its lighting range. Indeed, green technology has been mentioned by nearly every company I visited this week – some well-meaning PR has no doubt provided the piercing insight that us pasty types are mad about all this eco-malarkey.
But it is probably in the medical sector that BenQ has made its biggest inroads to date, shifting from simply manufacturing hardware for hospitals to becoming an active provider of healthcare in the Far East that currently owns, furnishes, and fully operates two facilities in "big neighbour" China. If provisioning medical care for the world's largest populace isn't a remedy for widespread economic insecurity, then I'll happily stand you a pineapple cake.