Windows 8 launch momentum grows as Asus springs Ultrabook surprise

Asus unveiled its complete range of Windows 8 products at a pre-launch event in New York, with company chairman Jonney Shih racing through six new ranges.

Windows 8 launch momentum grows as Asus springs Ultrabook surprise

Many had already been pre-announced at shows such as IFA, but Shih did pull off a surprise by announcing the Asus VivoBook S200 and S400.

“The name Vivo is taken from the Latin verb that means to live,” he said. “You get the simplicity of this unibody-like design and the well-crafted aluminium brush finish. Even the back cover is beautifully designed.”

But the emphasis is also on affordability, with the S200 going on sale for $499 in the US. This includes an 11.6in screen, Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk.

The S400 range will start at $599, which buys a 14in touchscreen and the same core components as the S200. A 15in touchscreen version, the S500, starts at $649.

Taichi magic

Much of Shih’s speech was dedicated to the Asus Taichi, which he described as “truly magical…the incredible fusion of both notebook and tablet”.

The Taichi is in essence a convertible Ultrabook, but it boasts two screens on either side of the “lid”. It’s even possible to use both simultaneously for entirely different tasks.

Transformer Book

If the Taichi doesn’t sound of interest, the Asus Transformer Book might. It’s a detachable notebook, so you can use it as a lightweight tablet when you need.

“When detached it is the world’s thinnest and lightest Intel Core i7 tablet with full Windows and x86 compatibility,” claimed Shih. “But when combined with the keyboard it’s a full version notebook that does not compromise.”

Asus’s direct rival to the Microsoft Surface is the VivoTab series. There’s an 11.6in version with a Super IPS screen and a Wacom stylus, and an optional dock can extend the battery life to a claimed 16 hours.

Or you can choose the 10.1in version, the VivoTab Smart. Again it uses a Super IPS panel, but this time it runs Windows RT.

“The Asus VivoTab RT is the world’s lightest Windows 8 tablet,” claimed Shih, citing its 530g weight. “But when transformed with a docking keyboard it can provide you with 16 hours of mobile entertainment,” he added.

Asus is also updating its ZenBook series of Ultrabooks, with the ZenBook Touch adding – as its name suggests – touchscreen capabilities to the range of Ultrabooks that won a Recommended award from PC Pro earlier this year.

The final product is the Asus All-in-One PC ET2300. A double-hinged stand means it can flip from the traditional vertical position into a flat horizontal mode – perfect for touch-based games in the mode of Pong.

Asus claims it’s also perfect for graphics professionals, with a full Adobe RGB gamut on offer.

UK pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed.

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