Note: My tests usually won’t go to speed test like the tech websites and there are tons of them to choose from. I am going to talk about using the laptop from a normal user point of view and how I am going to use it as my work doing projects and as a photographer.
Laptops are dime a dozen today and simply put, there are generally two classes of users. The business/students/casual users and those who are gamers. The specifications for Taichi is really towards the business users with mini VGA port/Micro HDMI to hook up to bigger screens for presentation. It comes also with a VGA port dongle to hook up with older projector. With 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz RAM with Intel Core i7/i5-3517U CPU it is an able laptop for the mundane.
It also has 2 x USB 3.0 Ports and 1 x Audio jack. The unit comes with a Ethernet-to-USB dongle when one needed to be plugged into the office network via the wired options. For entertainment purposes the puny speakers at the bottom of the unit is utilitarian at best even if it is powered by Bang and Olufsen ICEPower amplifier. Having a pair of good ear/headphones would be necessary for those who demands the best aural performance.
Hardware quality wise one can’t really fault the Taiwanese manufacturer. It feels well built and the weight add to that feeling. The keyboard is well spaced surrounded by brushed metallic surface surrounding it.
What put this laptop head and shoulders over the rest is the use of another touch enabled 1920 by 1080 pixel screen as its cover on top of the user non-touch screen underneath. What it does is to enable the use of the screen as a tablet even when the laptop is closed. This is a leg up from the convertibles such as the Dell XPS Touch with people worrying about the longevity of the hinges for everyday use. It also comes with a stylus for the more detailed drawing when needed. I personally find it good enough for sketching out ideas to my audience when there’s a need.
After using it for a week, including a short weekend trip to Melaka, the Taichi can do most of the office/presentation work thrown at it as a normal Laptop would do. Uploading pictures via the Card Reader was quick too though having a dedicated SD slot would be welcomed. The dual screen also has an unexpected plus. During meetings, I could push presentation slides/pictures to the cover screen for my audience at the other side of the meeting table without me turning the laptop around.
As for battery life, it is surprisingly prudent and I can use it casually without charging after 3 days. Shorter time if one is using it extensively. The main complaint of traditional PC is the inability to quickly wake up from sleep as compared to ARM based machines using iOS or Android OS. The Taichi can do that now with instant on ability because of the use of SATA III Solid State Drive (SSD).
There are however, some practical considerations to think of. The Taichi is supposed to be a laptop/tablet combo machine. As a tablet, the screen size at 11.6” combined with its weight tipped at 1.25KG is not exactly back breaking but I won’t pick it up just to check emails, update Facebook status or even a PDF magazine. It is just a bit too heavy and big for casual use.
And the thing about having a dual screen can be disorientating. Even when I thought I have gotten used to the machine, I find myself trying to activate a Windows 8 tile using the non-touch screen while in laptop mode. There is also this worry that using a touch screen as the cover of a laptop poses a risk that it might crack and thus having a good bag with a padded compartment for the laptop is essential. The other concern would be the stylus. It uses a AAAA size battery, a very rare battery to find if I need to replace it in an emergency. It would be better to use those small button sized used in watches as it is more readily available at watch shops.
All in, the Taichi is seriously a very sexy machine to bring around. It just look futuristic when you can just push presentation slides to the cover screen and then close it and use it like a tablet. However, I still prefer the implementation ala ASUS Transformer. I can easily take the tablet portion out and use it as a tablet and then place it back when a full keyboard is needed. The size and weight should be taken into consideration too as I find 12” screen a tad too big for tablets. The Taichi may be thin in terms of laptop offering at 1.74cm but not so for tablets.
The ASUS Taichi is available in Singapore at S$2,698.