Asus Taichi Australian Hands-On: The Zooey Deschanel Of Windows 8 Convertibles


Laplet? Tabtop? There needs to be a "phablet" like pseudo-word for what the Taichi is. It's both a Windows 8 laptop and a Windows 8 tablet in the one unit. Presumably it's designed so you can get the best of both worlds, right?

The Taichi is Asus' flagship Windows 8 convertible. It's a device with the form factor of an 11.6-inch laptop, with the added benefit of a touchscreen on the lid. The theory goes that when the device is closed, you can use it as a full-fledged Windows 8 (not RT) tablet. Even when the screen is open, you can share content to the lid display. That includes movies, presentations or whatever the person on the other side wants it to be.

That's where it started getting weird for me.

Say for example you're at home with the kids and you need to get some work done, but they really want to watch the new Ice Age movie. Asus last night demonstrated that you could put the movie on the lid screen while you did all of your important Excel-related business on the other side. But that's crazy, because it means the person you're sharing content with can't do it sitting next to you, they have to be directly across from you. That means you're removes the social element from content sharing. You're physically blocked off from the person you're sharing stuff with, which just feels a little anti-social to me.

This device makes much more sense if you use it by yourself. The screens are amazingly bright, the backlit keyboard is a blessing and the specs are just right.

The theory goes that when you need to get work done, you use the laptop, but when you get home and want to do some content consumption and couch surfing, you use the tablet. You'll run into problems when you want to use either option outside of those scenarios, though. I've found that using a tablet when you're on the move becomes uncomfortable when you have to lug around a device that's over 700 grams. That means the Taichi is in trouble, because it has to carry around the bulk of a laptop and a tablet. That means it tips the scale at 1.25 kilograms. That's way too heavy to use when you're anywhere but sitting down.

If you are using it in the right situations, though, this is a great device. It's awkwardly lovely. It's the Zooey Deschanel of the Windows 8 convertible world.

Like most Windows 8 devices, though, you really have to go hands-on with it to understand the benefits. You can only learn so much about a device when you see it on paper. All I saw before I went hands-on with the Taichi was a cool concept for a Windows 8 device. Now that I have used it — albeit briefly — I understand why someone would love it.

The Taichi is for the person who wants the computing equivalent of a Padfone, a device Asus also makes. The Padfone is for people who want both a smartphone and a tablet in the same ecosystem, but don't want to pay over $2000 to get it. In the same vein, the Taichi is for folks who want a great laptop that can also be a tablet for when you're too lazy to open the lid. It's a great idea.

The Asus Taichi goes on sale in mid-November at authorised Asus resellers, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, Dick Smith Electronics, BSR, The Good Guys, Retravision and Radio Rentals.

There are two configurations set to go on sale. $1599 will nab you an Intel Core i5 1.7GHz processor with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, or you can drop $1899 on an upgrade to a 1.9GHz Core i7 processor and a 256GB SSD.


Comments

    Really? It doesn't occur to you, Luke, that you could both watch the movie on the same screen if that was your desire? That Taichi gives you the CHOICE to show different things on each screen, IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT/NEED TO DO?

    At $1899 it is well priced, just $300 more than in the US, of which $180 or so is GST. I would expect to be able to go into JB and get it down to the US price without any haggling at all. I'll probably hold out for the 13" version, though, so I can get the SD card slot for extra storage. Exciting times to be on Windows.

    One question, Luke - what is an 11.6" full HD screen like? I imagine the Taskbar and desktop shortcuts and things would be ridiculously small, which might make using the Desktop a challenge. But with WiDi built-in, it might be time for a new telly as well?

    Last edited 25/10/12 10:34 am

      This, basically. I've not tried dual-display on Win8, but hopefully you get the choice between cloning and extending, so you can share what you're seeing with someone across a table or alternatively show them something else entirely - or switch off the panel and save some battery! :D

      Diagonal screen size = 11.6in = 294.64mm
      Screen height = 294.64mm / 2.039729 =144.45mm

      Assuming default taskbar height of 40px, taskbar = 40/1080 = 1/27 of height

      Taskbar = 144.45mm/27 = 5.35mm high.

      ...that's a tiny taskbar.

        UI scaling. Windows 8 was designed with it in mind. You can adjust it so the UI elements are the right size for you, while still maintaining super-crisp fonts and edges.

      I was wondering myself where he was going with that comment about the screen sharing, it makes no sense at all. Why would you want someone watching a movie right next to you if you were trying to work on a spreadsheet on a different screen?

        I guess what Luke is saying is that it's much more sociable if you alt-tab between Ice Age and your Excel spreadsheet between the boring bits or something...

        I mean, I'm sure it was a really well thought out comment...

        /sarcasm

          LOL!! its funny because out of this whole article thats the first thing i picked up on to... clearly if you want to work on a spreadsheet and keep the kids/misses occupied with a movie on the other screen you don't want to be 'socialising' you want to be getting your work done!

        AGREE!~ isn't the idea of sharing in a face to face manner create a more "sociable" interaction, do you sit across to each other to converse and to engage or do you sit side by side? Not making any sense!

      Motormouth. As Luke said its a scenario Asus put out there. I agree with Luke it would be weird to sit there and do whatever it is you need to while someone stairs at the back of the laptop you are using. In saying that duplicating the same movie both sides would be a bit better.

    Considering it has x2 1080P Displays! those prices are cheaper then what I was expecting. Well done ASUS.

    This is definitely on my shopping list!

    Does it have Micro HDMI out? As long as I can connect this to an external monitor on my desk ill be sold.

      It has microHDMI, microVGA and WiDi, as well as a "docking connector". Full specs on the US Asus site, here - http://www.asus.com/Notebooks/Superior_Mobility/ASUS_TAICHI_21/#specifications

    "Say for example you’re at home with the kids and you need to get some work done, but they really want to watch the new Ice Age movie. Asus last night demonstrated that you could put the movie on the lid screen while you did all of your important Excel-related business on the other side. But that’s crazy, because it means the person you’re sharing content with can’t do it sitting next to you, they have to be directly across from you."

    So are you complaining that you can multitask with the device? Or is it that you can use both screens at the same time? Or is it that by doing so you can work effectively while also entertaining others, with minimal disruption to yourself? Lets just be clear so there is no risk of misunderstanding your point.

    I am going to assume you have no children, rarely use Excel and never really need to do any actual heavy analytical work. It is the only way to understand your complete lack of appreciation of how valuable it may be to be able to satisfy your kid's wants from your needs with as little disruption to you as possible. That and it would explain your misconception that you would want to socialise while trying to finish IMPORTANT EXCEL-RELATED business like it is some kind of flippant joy that you do in your spare time, this isn't blogging we're talking about.

    /End Rant.

      I'm saying that by having two people watching content separated by an 11-inch screen separates those people from each other. You may as well be in separate rooms. It would be more advantageous to sit with your kids on the lounge while you used your laptop or tablet... That is more inherently social than the Taichi could ever be.

        That was how I interpreted it. I'm sure the two screen thing works fine, but I can't imagine it being useful for uses outside gaming.

          How about business presentations? In that situation it is the polar opposite - it allows the presenter to look at his audience during the presentation, instead of having them stand behind him and look over his shoulder. Or if your boss comes into your office and asks how those figures are coming along. You just flick the Excel spreadsheet onto the front screen and he can see everything, except the fact that you are really watching porn on the other screen because you finished that job half-an-hour ago. It is the digital equivalent of hiding a comic inside a reference book so that passers-by think you are studying.

            If the screen were significantly bigger, I can imagine this laptop being very useful for those purposes. As it stands, no one is going to use this for presentations because its just too small.

              Depends. If you have a Powerpoint presentation that you can show in an auditorium, it will work equally well in this situation. If you are trying to show 10 artists how to do camera-map projection in Nuke, it might be a little less useful.

          Actually super useful. I'm a psychiatrist and there are heaps of times I want to show my patients things on the screen but dont want them sitting next to me (or on my lap or whatever...its illegal) so this freaking awesome! was considering getting a second screen and cloning but this makes so much more sense. Aso have the option of tablet/pen input for the few patients that hate me typing during session (got a series 7 tabet and honestly, stays in its dock most of the day) but sucks it is n-trig and not wacom.
          The only dealbreaker will be the battery life; have a core i7 macbook air (with win 7) and the battery is lucky to last 2.5 hours with wifi and screen on a reasonable brightness.

          Will wait and see what sort of battery life the transformer book has before laying down the cash but Asus is definately on a winner here.

        Except that wasn't the scene you painted. One minute you're saying Dad can do his Excel work while the kids watch a movie, the next you are saying it is bad that Dad is watching on a separate screen, as though he is tied to the chair and unable to go around the other side to sit with his kids. It's absurd. If you want to sit with your kids and watch cartoons, you can. But if you want to watch some hardcore MILF action while the kids watch Toy Story, you can also do that (just make sure you mute the porn). It is this ridiculous notion that choice is a bad thing, which is so completely stupid that it beggars belief but permeates sites like this.

        Last edited 25/10/12 11:14 am

          "It is this ridiculous notion that choice is a bad thing, which is so completely stupid that it beggars belief"

          I gotta say MotorMouth, I 100% agree with you on that statement. I don't think there are too many situations where I'd be using both screens a once, but for those odd occasions when I can, great!

        It's an 11 inch screen. I'm sure we're all capable enough to look over the top of it?

        Lets see, when I go on a date I prefer to stand should to shoulder with my date rather than to actually face them because that is inherently more social. LH I think you're clutching at straws.

          So when you go to a movie with said date, you both don't face the screen at the same time?

          BAM.

            ... You talk throughout the movie? GTFO of the cinema.
            Watching a film in the cinema isn't the social part, discussing the film afterwards is.

              You forgot to BAM

    I agree Luke's argument is odd, but I agree with the conclusion: I just don't see someone trying to use excel on one screen while someone else watches a movie on the other. It just seems super rare use case.

    My main concern is the weight. While this is the most promising of the hybrid devices, it arguably defeats the purpose of a tablet by being too heavy. I'm sort of thinking its more like a really good laptop, but then I start to wonder if it would be better if it only had one screen with touch functionality.

      The thing is, though, that unlike a pure tablet, you don't have to hold it up all the time. It has a stable base to rest on your lap (it is a laptop, after all) or your knees or whatever, especially if you just open it a few cm, so the base/keyboard section acts like a kick-stand.

        The Asus Transformer tablets also have a stable base, and I'm pretty sure they're bringing out a Windows 8 Transformer. It seems like a much better form factor than this.

          Every review I've read of every Transformer says that they are top heavy, which is the opposite of a stable base. And you can't do the trick of opening it just a little bit, because the screen faces the wrong way.

            I was playing with an Android transformer in officeworks last week, and while it was a little backwards in weight distribution which felt a little funny at first in hand, it stood up fine, and stayed laying flat with the screen opened up more than 90 degrees.

              FLAT surface- if you put the Transformer on your knee, which slopes downwards and away from you, it topples- one of the most likely scenarios for watching videos. I know. It is a primary reason I chose not to get on and why I was waiting for this.

      If you think of this device as a tablet with benefits, then yes, it is very heavy. I tend to look at it from the other direction. The lightest i7-powered laptops are 1.1Kg. Some of those are 11.7"and some are 13", but I don't really care about that. As a photographer travelling with a lot of kit, weight is very important. This little machine has some serious specs (although 4GB of memory is disappointing) and for an extra 150 grams I get a device I can use as a tablet on my couch. The debate about Luke's use cases is spurious to me.

    this laptop is nowhere near as good looking as Zooey Deschanel

      Yeah she is oddly hot...BAM

    I'm sorry, but this device is just stupid. I'd rather spend the same money on a device with one BETTER screen!

    Give ma a convertible tablet, or hell even an ultrabook with touch screen over this.

    It's ridiculously heavy and for what? Two screens that will only be used at the same time in a small percentage of business customer cases? You can't use both at the same time yourself, hell I hate doubling up on tech which is why I don't currently have a laptop and an ipad, but even that seems like a better way to have two screens than this.

      The attraction for me is one screen that will be covered in grubby fingerprints and another that will remain pristine. As a graphic artist it is the only no-compromise solution I have seen so far. And it is perfect for the dual nature of Windows 8 - apps on the front screen, desktop on the back screen. No compromises. It will also look really cool running our music software on stage.

      I'm also very keen on setting it up in a café with a wallpaper on the outer screen that says "suck on this, you tried-hard Apple losers" in large, friendly letters. Hopefully someone will make an app that allows me to have the text scroll across the screen and flash bright colours.

      Last edited 25/10/12 11:34 am

        Does this touch screen support wacom digitiser? As a graphic artist I would presume that would be at the top of your spec requirements?

          It comes with a stylus but I can't see myself using it. Wacom tablets are useless for 95% of my work. They are popular with artists who were brought up on a diet of one-button mice but PC users need double-click and middle click and scroll wheel functionality and, even though they have tried hard to fix it, tablets fail badly for those things. They are really bad for things like using the Lasso tool in Photoshop for cutting out foreground objects and stuff, too. It will be OK to have it there as an option but it's not a selling point for me.

          Last edited 25/10/12 1:43 pm

    It would be great for playing Battleship :)

    Beats the hell out of "convertibles" - never trusted those swivel hinges - but not sure how many practical uses this would have over a tablet with attached keyboard like the Surface. How often would you use both screens?

    Showing someone/a group how to do something? One person, just sit next to them. A group, use a projector.

    Entertain the kids while you work? A TV would be a better option.

    It might be handy if you want to show someone a YouTube video while you search for the next one or something, but I'm not sure if the occasional time you would use both screens justifies the extra cost, battery and weight.

      Do you carry a TV and/or a projector around with you? How often do you need to use a feature in order for it to be worthwhile? Remember, the Core i7 version of this thing is $600 cheaper than the equivalent Vaio Duo11, which only has one screen, so it's not like they are charging a premium for it.

      As someone who spent 5 years as a software demo artist, being able to see your audience while you show them things is a huge bonus, as is not having to carry around a dozen different cables and wait around for some IT geek to find you a projector or a monitor so you can set up, just to present to 4 or 5 artists. Something like this would have made me twice as productive.

      On batteries, it is likely both screens use the same backlight, so it shouldn't drain any more quickly using one or two screens. As for weight, it is only 150g heavier than my single screen Zenbook UX21E, so again, there is hardly any penalty to pay for the extra functionality.

      Last edited 25/10/12 12:09 pm

        It is an 11-inch screen. Way to small for presentations. Its bad enough when people try to do it on their 15inch laptop screen.

    "That means it tips the scale at 1.25 kilograms. That’s way too heavy to use when you’re anywhere but sitting down."

    Luke, time to get yourself to the gym!! Sure, it's heavier than every consumer tablet out there, but at 1.25kg it's hardly pulling your arms out of their sockets if you're standing on the train.

    I think @motormouth is going for some sort of record here

      Haha I was reading through comments, then couldn't believe just how much typing @MotorMouth was doing - surely this man can't be at work??
      Then, I just had to keep scrolling (not trolling, mind you) to see how many comments made it through without a response from MM.

      Award for most posts in 2.5 hours.

        I don't start until 4:30pm and I have been waiting a long time for this thing to become a reality. When Asus showed it in June there was a lot of speculation that suggested they would never actually make it, so I am quite excited to see it all but here. Whilst I'll have to wait a little longer for the 13.3" version, at least I know it is definitely on the way.

          It does seem like an impressive laptop/hybrid/thing-a-magig

          The 13" version seems ideal to me. I wonder how it will differ from a Surface Pro. The surface is more portable but might not have the horsepower. Depending on user they are both very usable. Great time to be in the market for a portable computing device. So many choices (that along with the 13" MacBook Pro with retina display) (don't hate me, I find them to suit my needs too)

          and fair enough! Loving the enthusiasm for tech - what would a discussion panel be without input from consumers like us?

          Agreed, I've been watching this thing carefully for months now. An 11 Inch is too small to me. But the 13 inch should be bang on the money.....hurry up ASUS!

    I propose "Taplet" :-p

    (wouldn't buy one though...)

    I love how manufacturers are experimenting with new designs for Windows 8 devices. It's rather exciting seeing what cool (and ridiculous) designs they're coming up with :D

    watching porn on the train could get a little bit awkward if you unbeknowingly had the desktop set to "clone"

      Please tell me this wasn't your first thought after reading this article?

      I hate to break this to you, but people can still see you watching porn on the train without a screen on your screen so you can watch while you watch.

    Has it not occurred to anyone that its killer application is POWERPOINT, Which has a dual screen presentation mode?

    Second screen to me seems ideally suited to ... selling advertising space to help offset the price of this thing. You betcha it'll catch on.

    Agree with dknigs. I'm using the Transformer TF101 and yes it's definitely top heavy but never has it tipped over. The base is heavier. Don't know about the newer models.

    Got to play around with one of these beasts 3 weeks ago as a family member works at ASUS, loved playing around with it! very quick and really light for having two screens.

    Why are so many people so personally offended by the mere existence of this device. I think it exposes a trait of low self confidence in those people.

    "Suppository" - like a tablet but...

    I was planning to get one of these for business... It would be really handy to be able to meet with someone and show them the presentation I'm looking at while they're still sitting on the other side of my desk.

    However, at 1.7kgs, it's not the ultra-light tablet I want to take to meetings with me. Plus, I would miss having a trackpoint, which I find much easier to use than a touchpad.

    So I'm undecided at this point.

    My Transformer continues to be a great piece of tech in the mean time.

    Last edited 03/11/12 12:37 am

    Picking one up early next week. I think this may be the best of the hybrids. It is a classy ultraportable during the day and then a fun tablet at night. Perfect for me when I am on business trips.

    libraries and retail services use a second screen to show the person on the other side of the desk what they're doing. also student groups would benefit with a crowd of people only a couple can sit either side of the person running the computer thee others. an sit around the table and see what's going on from the second screen.

    it's actually really useful if you've ever worked in this scenario before.

    Everyone is missing the point! You have a tablet and a laptop. The ability to use both screen at the same time is just an added benefit. Think of it as a very cool laptop lid design!

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