Asus Taichi review
As ever, battery life is crucial for such a device, and here the Taichi struggles. We ran our light-use battery test in both tablet and laptop modes, and in both scenarios the Taichi lasted just under five hours. On the rare occasion that both displays are running simultaneously, that figure will tumble dramatically. Thankfully, though, the wall-wart PSU weighs only 212g, so it doesn’t add too much to the overall travelling weight.
The greatest asset of the Taichi’s design is that, as a laptop, there’s no compromise. The Scrabble-tile keys have a light yet positive action, and the layout is perfect, with a wide right-Shift key and a usable cluster of cursor keys. The touchpad supports Windows 8’s edge gestures, allowing you to drag a finger from the right of the touchpad to activate the Charms menu, or from the left to flick between apps.
Multitouch gestures work, too, along with two-fingered taps to emulate a right-click; we had an occasional issue with the pad not responding to gestures due to the slight lip around the touchpad’s edge.
Running the Taichi in tablet mode is less pleasing. The problem isn’t the touchscreen itself: it’s responsive, and the N-trig digitiser provides accurate inking support.
Using it at a desk is also improved by the ability to tilt the display upwards. The weight of the base holds the Taichi steady, and the hinge is stiff enough that you have to prod forcefully before the display nudges backwards.
However, the biggest downside of the Taichi’s design is that 1.25kg is far too heavy for comfortable long-term use. Holding it in tablet mode is tiring, and much as we appreciate the ability to flit quickly between the laptop and tablet simply by flicking the lid open and closed, the weight penalty is severe.
The Taichi’s split personality also causes other woes. Try as we might, we kept instinctively reaching out and prodding the laptop display, only to remember that it wasn’t a touchscreen. Where we found ourselves instinctively flitting from touchpad to touchscreen and back again with the single touchscreen of Asus’ VivoBook S200E, the Taichi’s separate tablet and laptop modes sit more awkwardly, with the transition from one to the other feeling far less intuitive.
Many manufacturers are struggling to find the most natural meeting point between the tablet and the laptop, and Asus’ own Windows 8 range provides yet more evidence of this. With its VivoBooks marrying touchscreens to standard laptops, the forthcoming VivoTab range mimicking the separate tablet and keyboard dock concept of the Android-powered Transformer Pad, and the Taichi 21 ploughing its own dual-screened furrow, it seems even Asus isn’t confident enough to put all of its eggs in one basket.
Give it a few years and a refined, lighter chassis married with more power-efficient CPUs and improved battery life could see this dual-screened form factor present a compelling hybrid. At present, though, Asus’ Taichi 21 feels like a bold, innovative concept that’s just a little too far ahead of its time.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||307 x 199 x 18mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3517U|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Hard disk||SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||no|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Multitouch touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||4hr 55min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||42fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.66|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|