There's no denying that tablet computers have carved out quite a substantial niche over the past couple of years, but they're not exactly an ideal productivity solution for those of us who spend much of our lives tapping away on a keyboard. Lenovo generated a flutter of excitement at CES 2010 when the company revealed its intention to combine tablet convenience with the power of a notebook in the form of the U1. Sadly, this concept hasn't yet made it beyond prototyping, but ASUS actually delivered somewhat similar functionality with its Eee Pad Transformer series. Now, the company has revealed a new ultrabook that also has a multi-touch tablet on the outer face of the lid. Full specs for the TAICHI are a little thin at the moment, but here's what we do know.
ASUS says that its TAICHI ultrabook/tablet will come in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch form factors, although the pre-production prototype introduced by the company's Jonney Shih at Computex 2012 in Taipai, Taiwan earlier this month was of the former size. The lid of both models is home to dual FHD/IPS panels, each at 1920 x 1080 resolution, which are said to utilize the same hardware, but are independent of one another.
This effectively means that users will be able to mirror the notebook display on the multi-touch tablet panel on outer surface of TAICHI's lid, useful for cozy business presentations, sharing video chat sessions with friends or family, or showing of home videos and photos without having to squeeze in front of a screen. That glossy outer surface does look to be quite the fingerprint magnet, though, but that's perhaps a small price to pay for such functionality.
The tablet panel will support stylus input, which is thought to have been made possible courtesy of N-trig technology, a grid-based system which supports up to 256 pressure levels – although there's been nothing official on this from ASUS.
The ASUS TAICHI is reported to weigh about the same as an ASUS Zenbook Prime, is powered by 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processors, features SSD storage and DDR3 system memory, and comes with built-in dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity.
There's a full-size, chiclet-style backlit QWERTY keyboard and trackpad, front and rear HD cameras and B&O ICEpower and ASUS SonicMaster audio. It's also been made NFC-capable, and has an e-compass and gyroscopic sensors.
It's a little early for pricing and availability information, but rumor has it that the TAICHI could be delivered as soon as October of this year. We'll certainly be keeping a close eye on this interesting device and will bring news as it surfaces.