BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Asus' smartphones have never really taken off in the past few years. The idea was always good, like the PadFone, where your smartphone powers a larger tablet body.
I always told myself I would get one, because the idea of having two devices powered by one brain was so appealing.
That obviously never happened, as I, along with everyone else, stuck with the more conventional route of one smartphone, or one smartphone plus one tablet, or even two smartphones would be categorised as the "norm" rather than one brain powering two devices.
So I guess Asus was done with the more premium route with the PadFone, and then it started a series of cheaper devices. The latest generation of ZenFones are affordable, look good, and gets the job done. Basically, with less amount of money you still get a good smartphone with Asus.
In some parts of Southeast Asia, they have been doing well with their entry-level devices, despite stiff competition from the Chinese.
Taiwanese Asus still has a more reputable brand name when it comes to consumer electronics than most.
Now, Asus is climbing again, after gaining some traction with its lower-end devices.
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Asus introduced its ZenFone Zoom.
Its name suggests that you can zoom - and you definitely can, up to 3x with its in-built optical zoom.
The ZenFoneZoom isn't like Samsung's Galaxy Zoom or the more recent K Zoom where you have to sacrifice specs, or go for a downgrade in specs to get a good optical zoom camera.
The ZenFone Zoom is actually based on the ZenFone 2, and comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, 128GB of built-in storage, and is one of the first smart devices to come with 4GB of RAM. The battery comes with a healthy 3,000mAh and will have an (unconfirmed) 64-bit processor.
It's a blazing fast device, with 3x optical zoom! It's hard not to love the sound of that.
But before we pass judgement, let's take a closer look at what Asus has to offer.
The camera, is a 13-megapixel sensor, with a 10-element 3x zoom lens that has a maximum aperture of f2.7-4.8. The camera comes with optical stabilisation, and camera software comes with low-light mode, HDR and you can shoot in manual.
Its focusing system is reminiscent of LG's latest G3 which has lasers that promise to lock on images faster than ever. The flash is a dual-LED, and the camera can even take pictures as near as five centimetres away, making for some nice close-up shots.
Basically, photos coming from the Asus ZenFone Zoom, even at 3x zoom, is good.
Not only are the photos good, the shell that the hardware lives in is sleek considering it has a 10-element zoom on the sensor. The phone is absolutely flat on the back unlike Samsung's K Zoom, which has a huge bulge and is extremely heavy.
The phone is packaged very attractively with a circular chrome pattern on the back, which probably houses the camera lens. With that, there is also a dedicated shutter release button, which is absolutely necessary considering this is a smartphone focused on taking pictures.
If you're interested in a phone which takes good pictures whether very far or extremely near, the ZenFone Zoom shoud be on your shortlist, especially with the international release expected to come with a reasonable price tag.
Asus is targeting a release by the middle of 2015 with pricing to be confirmed.