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ASUS Brandishes Bamboo Notebooks: CES

LAS VEGAS ( TheStreet) -- Laptop makers ASUS and Lenovo have kicked off CES with a slew of announcements touting unusual casing materials and tablet technology in an attempt to challenge Apple (AAPL - Get Report).

ASUS was first to the plate, unveiling a raft of new laptops at a press event late Tuesday. Clearly keen to catch the eye of style-obsessed consumers, the Taiwanese technology giant took the wraps off its U53 devices, which use bamboo as casing material.

See all our CES 2010 coverage.

ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih even played the eco-card during an almost hour-long presentation, explaining that bamboo is the most recyclable plant on the planet.

" Bamboo is strong, fast-growing and easily-cultivated," he said. "Every four years you can cut the bamboo and regrow it."

The company's first 'bamboo' notebooks were launched in 2008, although the latest iterations of the technology offer USB version 3.0 and Intel's (INTC - Get Report) newest core i5 processors.

Looking like a household object from the Bauhaus era, bamboo-covered notebooks reflect the importance of cutting-edge laptop design, something which Shih also highlighted in the company's new NX90 offering.

Designed in conjunction with Danish audio equipment specialists Bang & Olufsen, the NX90 offers polished aluminum as part of its casing, and has speakers 10 times the size of a normal notebook, according to Shih.

"This audio experience allows the user to take the cinema with them," said the executive, describing the NX90's sound as "stunning" and "cinematic."

With a price tag of $2,499, the NX90 won't come cheap, although Asus also unveiled some lower-end laptops at CES, including a couple of Eee "Seashell" devices with a lattice-like casing designed by style guru Karim Rashid. The fifth notebook launched by the Taiwanese firm was the ROG G73jh, which is aimed at the gaming community.

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