Asus Taichi: The two-screen show

Despite the dual screen flaws this is a great Ultrabook convertible
Nandagopal Rajan        Print Edition: September 2013

Asus Taichi
Price: Rs 1,39,990
Specs: Windows 8 Pro, 2x 11.6-inch 1080p screens, Intel Core i7-3517U, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 5MP 1080p camera

Windows 8 led to the creation of a whole new bunch of devices that twisted, turned or tore to bring the touch screen closer to the user. Asus thinks there is another solution to the problem, necessitated by the need to bring the screen closer to the user. Just add another screen to the rear. We are talking about the Asus Taichi, a dual screen convertible which can become a tablet by just shutting its clamshell model.


Though it looks like any other Ultrabook, it won't take you long to notice the shiny top on the clamshell. This is the tablet side of the device with an 11.6-inch 1080p display. Yes, there is a second screen on the outside, thankfully under a sheath of Corning Fit Glass. Open the clamshell and flick the power toggle on the right to bring this device to life. You click a dedicated Taichi Home button to open the controls. This is where you decide how you want to use the screens. You have the option to choose the regular laptop mode, or mirror the laptop screen outside as well or have two different things on both screens.

There are a few catches though. Only, the outer tablet screen has touch, the inner screen is just 11.6-inch 1080p with no touch. This is a dampener, especially since the laptop side will be your primary screen for all practical purposes. Then, we were unable to do different things on both screens. By extending the primary screen we could show a presentation or open a video on the back screen, but not work on anything there.

Despite the two screens I find it hard to find why people would need to use both of them at the same time. The only use case scenarios I could think of was a travelling salesman or a tuition teacher, both of whom won't be able to afford this device. Plus, with the two screens you have to keep ensuring that you are not mirroring stuff when you don't want to. That could be really embarrassing.

The Taichi makes sense for those who want to use a laptop as a tablet, despite the weight of the device. Just shutting the screen to shift to the tablet mode is very natural. And, the device intuitively switches the content to the tablet screen as you shut down the clamshell. Plus, there is a stylus which works well with the Windows 8 handwriting recognition.

The Taichi is built like a very solid Ultrabook with a sleek 17mm form factor. This is crucial as you will be using this device as a tablet too. The 1.25 kg weight is also good from this perspective. Since you will be using this device as a tablet with the lid closed, the power and volume toggles are on the sides. The device has two USB ports, a multi-card reader, a mini VGA and micro HDMI port. For the Ethernet you need to plug in an adapter. The backlit keypad, though well spaced out, is very bare and reminds you of last year's Zenbook. But we felt the trackpad was a bit too slippery to be used comfortably with the Windows 8 gestures.

The device we had was powered by an Intel Core i7-3517U and is good enough to do anything you want, even do different stuff on the two screens. But we were not able to do that as the touch functions on the lid screen seemed to shut when you have something else running on the inner screen. We believe this is due to a software bug in the device. Then it seems Asus avoided having touchscreens on both sides due to power and processing issues. The Taichi is a very good, though pricey, Ultrabook and ticks most of the boxes in this regard. You will not have any issue as far processing power is concerned. Along with the Full HD screen, one great feature here is the Bang & Olufsen-backed ASUS SonicMaster audio technology which gives full bodies sound in this Ultrabook. This also means the device sort of pulsates at full volume, which might not amuse everyone. The battery life is not all that great and be happy if you squeeze out three and a half hours on regular use.

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