Leading Taiwanese original equipment maker Asus launched a new line of notebooks in Hong Kong this week targeting executive users. Asus is one of the world's best-known manufacturers of motherboards for desktop computers and one out of nine of the world's notebooks are built on its boards. Darwin Wu, account manager for sales and marketing division for Asia-Pacific, said the popularity of its motherboards was helping it break into new markets. 'We believe the stability of notebooks depends on the motherboards. Everyone knows that 45 per cent of notebooks in the world are manufactured in Taiwan. That's why we feel confident in this field,' Mr Wu said. Asus faces increasing pressure from price cutting by brand-name vendors Dell and Compaq, as well as stylish Japanese notebooks. 'I admit we still have a long way to go. In Hong Kong, it is not easy for Taiwan brands to sell because everyone is looking for the A-brands,' he said. But Asus' Hong Kong distributor Hornington Computers was optimistic. Managing director Kandy Sung said: 'In Hong Kong, we are selling 4,000 to 5,000 Asus notebooks per year. We want to grab market share from others and reach sales of 7,000 to 8,000 this year.' Joseph Lai, a salesman at Wise Computer Technology in Wanchai Computer Centre, said Asus notebook sales were matching those of Fujitsu. In the past week, the company sold about 100 units at its six stores. 'Asus customers are always those with computer knowledge. They are using Asus motherboards in their home computers and believe in their stability,' Mr Lai said. 'Users can download the latest bios at the company's Web site to upgrade their notebooks themselves. Not so many manufacturers offer this.' Mr Sung said the M2 series targeted middle to high-end users. 'It only weights 2kg and has a 14.1-inch display. They are suitable for travelling executives and for presentation,' Mr Sung said. The M2 series is powered by Mobile Intel Pentium III Processor-M. Models have extended graphics array (XGA), thin film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal displays and a bay to give users the ability to add either DVD, CD-Rewritable (CD-RW), DVD/CD-RW combined or a second hard-disk drive. The laptops feature an energy-saving button for easy control of display brightness and central processing unit (CPU) speed. Asus claims this can extend battery life from 4-1/2 hours to 5-1/2 hours. The notebooks come with Windows XP Home Edition, IBM ViaVoice and Trend Micro's PC-Cillin 2000 anti-virus software. The entry-level unit has 128 megabytes of random access memory (Ram), a 933-megahertz CPU, a 20-gigabyte hard disk and DVD. It is priced at HK$13,500. The mid-range unit runs a one-gigahertz CPU, has a CD-RW and costs HK$14,700. The top-end M2 runs at 1 GHz, comes with a 30 GB hard disk and DVD+CD-RW combination drive, and costs HK$16,100. All models have built-in modem and Ethernet ports. For wireless networking, users can get an 802.11b wireless upgrade for about HK$1,000. Mr Sung said the notebooks had numerous upgrade options. 'The CPU, Ram and hard disk can all be upgraded. So users just need to pay HK$1,000 to HK$2,000 to extend the lifetime of notebooks for years.'