Asus has been seriously innovative the last few years, starting off a winning creative streak with the original Asus Eee Pad Transformer which culminated in the Transformer Infinity, to be followed by the no less revolutionary PadFone and its gorgeous successor, the Asus PadFone 2. Now it’s trying its hand at yet another product like no other, the Asus Taichi Ultrabook.
Wondering which Windows 8 device to get? Have a read of our Best Windows 8 Laptops Tablets Convertibles and PCs roundup
The Taichi (a name that syncs nicely with Asus’ previous Zenbook) is a laptop like no other. It has not just one 1080p IPS screen, but two – and we’re not talking about a slide-out affair like the Lenovo ThinkPad W701ds.
With the Taichi, its lid is a second screen, and one that supports both touch and a pressure-sensitive stylus. This means that, when you ‘close’ the ‘laptop’, this little machine turns into a tablet, but one with all the connectivity and power of a regular Ultrabook – and naturally, it’s running Windows 8 to make full use of this feature.
Read the full Windows 8 review here
There will be two Asus Taichi models, the 11.6-inch, 1.25kg Taichi 21 and the 13.3-inch, 1.55kg Taichi 31. Size aside, the only difference between the two, erm, sizes is that the smaller of these innovative Ultrabooks drops the SD card reader found on the larger ultraportable. Everything else, from specs to screen resolution and connectivity, remains the same. You’ll have to wait till 2013 to get your mitts on the 13-inch Taichi though.
Very like Asus’ Zenbook, the Taichi sports a gorgeous, brushed aluminium unibody chassis. The difference this time ‘round is that the outside of the lid is toughened Corning glass, which protects the ‘top’ screen.
Though the entire top is inevitably glossy, Asus has thankfully gone for a matt black screen bezel and the ‘inside’ panel sports a matt finish too. Yay.
What’s truly remarkable is that, despite stuffing in up to a Core i7 processor, twin 1080p screens, a backlit keyboard, and a whole load of other gubbins, the TaiChi still manages an incredibly svelte profile at just 17.6mm.
The only downer to this lovely design is that the glass ‘lid’ picks up fingerprints like nobody’s business, but then that’s common with tablets.
This slim tablet/laptop hybrid manages to pack in a lot of connections too. There’s a miniVGA port (boo, but at least it’s unobtrusive), microHDMI, twin USB 3.0s and a headphone/microphone jack. On the wireless front we have the usual Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0 pairing, with no 3G option at this time.
Typing action is more than adequate on the Taichi, with a bit more feedback than we remember from the Zenbook. As with most premium Ultrabooks, the chiclet keyboard is fully backlit too.
The massive trackpad is lovely to use and of course supports Windows 8 multi-touch gestures. Interestingly, the Taichi’s ‘inner’ screen doesn’t support touch, so this definitely a necessity when using it in ‘laptop mode’.