NFC stands for Near Field Communication, and it’s a standard originally developed for smart phones and other mobile devices. The idea behind NFC is that devices must be very close– typically within a few inches– in order to communicate, and that the protocol doesn’t require logging in and in general is simpler to set up than WiFi. NFC can be used between two powered devices, such as your phone and a payment pad at a store, or between a single powered device and an unpowered device. Unpowered devices are called “tags”.
The ASUS Z87-Deluxe Dual comes with an NFC pad they call NFC Express, and one bright yellow tag you can put on your key ring. It’s in the form of a small plastic box that connects to the motherboard via one of the rear USB 3 ports– it also acts as a USB 3 hub with two additional ports on one edge.
ASUS only supplies Windows 8 drivers for he NFC Express, so you’re out of luck if you’re sticking with Windows 7. When the drivers are installed and the device is connected, AI Suite’s WiFi GO! icon is replaced with a new NFC Express icon. Clicking this icon opens a new NFC Express page that has four selections: Windows 8 Login, Quick Launch, Remote Desktop, and Photo Express.
Windows 8 Login lets you log into Windows 8 by tapping the yellow tag on the NFC Express box. Simply enter the account and password you want to log into, place the tag on the box, and click OK, and the tag is programmed. Subsequently you can log into Windows just by tapping the tag on the box.
With Quick Launch, you can configure profiles of applications and files, and save them to an NFC-enabled device or a tag. Touching the tag to the box will automatically open all the files you selected:
And that works fine, too. In fact, the same tag can be used both to log in and to launch applications. However, you’re limited to files that “Windows 8 knows about”; as best I can determine, you can’t select arbitrary *.exe files: you can only select things shown in the file selection dialog, and it doesn’t show much. Also, the system’s only good for launching files in the desktop environment: you can’t launch tiled apps, and if you touch the tag to the NFX Express box while in the interface formerly known as Metro, the apps will launch, but you’ll have to manually switch to desktop mode to see them.
I couldn’t test Remote Desktop and Photo Express since I don’t have an NFC-enabled phone or tablet. However, it seems to me that Remote Desktop over NFC would be of limited utility since the phone or tablet would have to be very close to the NFC box. Photo Express purports to automatically move photos from your NFC device to the computer, which is nice, but you have to have AI Suite open and set to the Photo Express page for this to work. Using File Transfer from WiFi GO! Remote seems easier, since you can do it from anywhere in your WiFi network range and don’t need to set up the receiving computer beforehand.
The trouble is, it seems as if you must choose one or the other: once I installed the NFC drivers, WiFi GO! vanished as an option in AI Suite, its icon replaced by NFC Express.
I’m sure the utility of NFC Express will continue to evolve, but right now I think WiFi GO! will be more useful for most people.