Finally a convertible tablet that A) actually converts between slate and laptop modes and B) innovates over all the usual designs – all hail the dual-screen ASUS Taichi.
Oh, ASUS. I take back what I said earlier about you pushing out detachable base slates and calling them convertibles. Actually, that’s still true, but I forgive you because you’ve also got one that can actually convert between slate and laptop modes (as opposed to being split apart). No swivel hinge. No slider. Just close the lid and you’re in slate mode thanks to a second display on the back of the ASUS Taichi’s front display. And what a display it is.
While other Windows tablets are still touting relatively low resolutions, the Taichi steps up with true HD 1920 x 1080 resolution on both of its FHD/Super IPS+ displays. More impressively, an operator in laptop mode can choose to use either or both displays in either mirrored or independent setups. Imagine demonstrating software with this or working on one end while your kid watches a movie on the other!
One catch is that only the back display has touch input. Should be enough most of the time as that’s the display you’d be using in slate mode, but you’ll be losing that “touch-first” magic of Windows 8 in laptop mode. Also, they claim “stylus support”, but that may or may not mean active pen input. I’m not sure but I suspect Wacom’s RF technology wouldn’t work in this arrangement, though N-Trig’s electrostatic system might. Either way, there’s no pen garage, so I’m not banking on it. Side controls accessible in either slate or laptop mode include Windows button, volume control, and rotation lock.
The Taichi will have two screen size options – 11.6″ and 13.3″ – both with the same HD resolution. Powering it will be an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 supported by 4 GB memory. Both displays feature cameras, and NFC is included in addition to the usual tablet sensors, such as motion. Exact specs, pricing and release dates are not yet known, but this is clearly a business-class machine, so I would expect variable configurations and a hefty price tag.
Also unclear is how much battery life can be expected. Obviously a dual-screen system has the potential to burn through a lot of juice very quickly, but it could do well enough using one screen at a time. What worries me is the combination of the i7 processor and that slim body. Thin notebooks vent adequately through the keyboard, but in slate mode, this thing could get quite warm.
Personally, I’ve been waiting for a Windows tablet like this for, oh, about six years, ever since I started shopping for a convertible to replace my slate. I really like swivel screens not just for slate mode conversion but also to easily share with other people. The Taichi looks to have that setup beat (though I’m not going to queue up for it until I confirm it has an active pen digitizer). Press release excerpt below.
ASUS TAICHI – dual screens for a notebook and a multi-touch tablet in one
The ASUS TAICHI is a slim and stylish ultraportable with an astonishing key feature – both 11.6″ and 13.3″ models have a brilliant double-sided LED-backlit IPS/FHD display. With a touch screen on the outside of the lid, the TAICHI opens up a whole host of new mobile possibilities as it plays the role of both notebook and tablet.
With the lid open, the TAICHI is just like any notebook computer, and comes complete with a full-size QWERTY backlit keyboard and track pad. With the lid closed, however, the TAICHI instantly becomes a multi-touch tablet computer with stylus support, bringing a degree of flexibility that has never before been experienced on an ordinary notebook. Better still, while they provide access to the same hardware, the two screens are completely independent of each other and can also be used simultaneously, which means the Taichi can be shared with two users for a host of innovative new applications.
The TAICHI is as light and thin as the ASUS ZENBOOK™ and delivers uncompromised mobile performance, with 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors, fast SSD storage and dual band 802.11n Wi-Fi.