Asus Taichi review
Windows 8 is designed to work well on both laptops and tablets, so it was only a matter of time before we saw a hybrid of the two. The Asus Taichi is like no laptop we've seen before; as well as a normal 1080p screen on the inside, there's a 1080p touchscreen built into the lid.
The laptop's inner screen doesn’t support touch, but close the Taichi and you’re left with a touchscreen tablet. A dedicated button switches between the various screen modes available. You can have one screen or the other, both screens at once mirroring each other or, in Dual Screen Mode, show something completely different on each screen, so you can show off a PowerPoint presentation to your colleagues while still being able to read your notes.
There are two versions of the 11.6in Taichi. The basic model comes with an Intel Core i5-3317U processor and a 128GB SSD for £1,000, while the £1,200 top-spec model reviewed here has an Intel Core i7-3517U CPU and 256GB SSD. The Core i7-3517U processor runs at 1.9GHz, and it's definitely quick enough to run Windows 8 smoothly. The Tai Chi has 4GB RAM, and managed 46 overall in our benchmarks. For reference, a desktop Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3570K scores 100, so this puts the Taichi in the top 10% of Ultrabooks when it comes to performance.
We enjoyed using the laptop for normal tasks. The keyboard has wide, evenly-spaced keys that provide a good amount of tactile feedback for such a thin chassis, and the all-in-one touchpad didn’t get in the way of our hands while typing.
We were also pleased to note that the touchpad supports multi-touch gestures, which went some way for making up for the lack of touch support on the inner screen. Typing was also a relatively silent affair, but typing at speed tended to produce a rather unwelcome low rattling sound when we hit the keys.
The Taichi’s tablet form really works well with Windows 8's tiled Start Screen and apps; the touchscreen makes scrolling through the various menus and icons much smoother and easier than trying to navigate the desktop with the all-in-one touchpad or a mouse.
That said, the Taichi’s tablet mode wasn’t an entirely seamless experience. It may only be little more than 17mm thick, but at 306mm long and 199mm wide, you’ve almost got to cradle it in your arms to make sure you don’t drop it, making it just a little too big to use with the same comfort and confidence as a dedicated tablet. It’s also twice the weight of an iPad. Having a screen as a lid is also a cause for concern. It picks up fingerprints like a forensics expert and, even though it's made of hardened Gorilla Glass, we've seen enough scratched laptops to worry how long the Taichi's touchscreen would stay pristine. Asus does supply the Taichi with a slip cover to help protect it, though.
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