By Claire Reilly
Asus launched its first range of Windows 8 products in Sydney last night, with a number of laptop and tablet hybrids on offer, including its showcase product of the line-up – the Asus TaiChi. Like a regular notebook in form and function, the TaiChi gains a point of difference with the addition of an extra touch screen on the outside of the chassis, turning it into a multi-screen device.
These back-to-back screens can be used independently or simultaneously – with the notebook lid closed, the Taichi resembles a large tablet with a Full HD touchscreen (although at 1.25 kilograms and with an 11.6-inch screen, it is larger and heavier than a regular tablet).
With the lid up, it transforms into a regular notebook with a Full HD non-touch screen, a backlight keyboard and multi-touch touchpad. In this configuration, both screens can be used to play the same content (for use in presentations or meetings for example), or separate feeds – work on the inside and a movie for the kids on the outside.
Both screens feature IPS display technology to offer 178-degree viewing angles, and there is a stylus for use with the outer screen to gain greater precision.
Speaking at the launch, Asus’ retail product manager for notebooks, Jackson Hsiao said the design was about creating “a fusion” between tablets and notebooks, but that there had been “no compromises” in combining technology for the one product.
However, questions were raised at launch about the battery life of a product that was powering two screens and how durable it could be, considering one screen is exposed on the outer body of the device.
According to Hsiao, the TaiChi offers up to 5 hours of battery life in regular notebook mode and up to three hours in “TaiChi mode” (when both screens are on). He also noted that the outer screen is made from Corning Gorilla glass to resist scratching and that the device is supplied with a slip-in case for protection.
There are two models of TaiChi available. For retailers, an Intel Core i5-powered TaiChi with 4GB RAM and a 128GB solid state drive is set to hit stores in mid-November for RRP $1,599. A higher-end Core i7 model with 4GB RAM and a 256GB SSD will be available through the channel this quarter for RRP $1,899, with models due in retailers Q1 2013.
The new Asus TaiChi features two screens on the inside and outside of the device.