We can tell you that ASUS is going all out with an extensive line-up to support the launch of Windows 8. After all, this is the OS that everyone has been waiting for to dazzle consumers and every tier-1 PC vendor has been busy churning out new hardware designs to better take advantage of Windows 8. It's more than just a pretty Start screen, so if you haven't yet found out first-hand or seen how Windows 8 functions, head over to the region's only Windows 8 Mega Guide to get updated. Back to the Windows 8 line-up from ASUS, here's our video walkthrough of a few highlight products that we'll be elaborating in more detail in this article:-
One of the most intriguing products that we didn't yet get hands-on during our video filming (but should be available later this year) is the ASUS Taichi Ultrabook. As such, we'll begin our article with more details of this product:-
First seen at Computex 2012 the ASUS Taichi will soon be making its way into the consumer market. This 11-inch Ultrabook has a maximum thickness of just 17mm, which tapers down to 3mm, and a weight of just 1.25kg. The Taichi features a unique form factor, with dual back-to-back full HD screens on either side of the lid, combining both tablet and notebook into one device, without the need for any screen converting or transforming. With the notebook open, it operates as a standard Ultrabook, but close it, and it becomes a tablet. Only the exterior lid operates as a touchscreen, so for Windows 8 usage, you're likely to be using it in the closed screen position most of the time.
The secondary lid display can also be used in the open position as a presentation screen, and it can also be toggled on/off if you don't want other people to see what you're doing. The Taichi will also come supplied with an ASUS stylus.
Components-wise, the Taichi is armed with an Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB RAM and a 256GB SSD storage drive. The Taichi will retail in Singapore for $2698, however availability is currently unknown (we hear it could be towards the end of November, but nothing is concrete yet).
Sitting in the lower end of the notebook spectrum, we’ve got the new touch-enabled Vivobook notebook series with two variants upon launch. These touchscreen notebooks are targeted at price-conscious consumers, who are looking for the lowest entry point into Windows 8. Despite their price point, they retain the same premium design principles seen on the Zenbook series. Both of these notebooks sport slim and tapered aluminum bodies like those of the Zenbooks. The difference here is that they are thicker and heavier than the Zenbooks. And because of their increased thickness, ASUS is able to add in more connectivity options like a VGA and RJ45 port.
The most visible way to tell them apart is that the Vivobooks have brushed aluminum lids, rather than the swirled metal imprint design on the Zenbooks. The Zenbooks are of course officially classified as Ultrabooks, but sadly because the cost conscious Vivobooks use a mechanical hard disk, they aren't officially marketed and classified as Ultrabooks. For most general consumers, both series will look and feel like Ultrabooks as the differences in overall design and usability are technical. That's both a good and bad point for both series, but you would be hard pressed not to just pass them off as affordable Ultrabooks.
The Vivobook X202 is a 11.6-inch (1366 x 768 pixels), 1.3kg touchscreen notebook with a rather premium looking body that is mostly made of aluminum. Design-wise, it looks just like a, 11-inch Zenbook, but thicker (21.7mm thick to be exact) and heavier. As we mentioned earlier, it has got additional connectivity options that the Zenbook can only dream of like a full sized VGA port, an RJ45 port, an HDMI port, a card reader as well as three USB (2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0) ports.
During our brief hands-on session with it, we also found that the X202 is as robust as it looks. The aluminum body really adds to the overall premium feel of the notebook. Even the keyboard (note that the keyboard well is separate from palm rest) and trackpad is very similar to the more expensive Zenbooks that we’ve come across. The only way you can tell that it’s an affordable offering to get started on Windows 8, is when you look at its specs sheet.
It runs on a third generation Core i3 (1.8GHz Ivy Bridge) processor (with 4GB RAM), which means it’s more than enough for casual usage. However since it's going for under S$1000, it won’t be sporting an SSD cache. Instead, it will simply have a 500GB mechanical HDD. Another point to take note is that it will have a resolution of only 1366 x 768 pixels. However because it’s only 11 inches in size, the resolution won’t affect the way the notebook is used, unlike on the larger 14-inch Vivobook S400.
Even though the naming conventions are quite different here, the 14-inch S400 is essentially a bigger X202. It’s got the same robust and stylish looking aluminum body, as well as the brushed aluminum lid. It’s thicker and heavier than the Zenbooks, but a big surprise here is that it’s actually slightly thinner (21mm) than the X202. That’s likely due to the fact that it’s larger, and ASUS has more room to space out components across. Due to its large size, the S400 comfortably sports the same amount of connectivity options as the X202.
When holding the S400 in our hands, the tapered body helped make it feel lighter than it really is. Its actual weight is a notable 1.8kg, primarily because of its larger (44Wh) battery. The keyboard and trackpad here are as equally impressive as that of the X202. Here, it has no keyboard well, unlike the X202. This makes it much more rigid, which makes for a more comfortable typing experience. The clickable trackpad is also really big, and features no buttons. Users will appreciate this because entry-level machines of this price point often don’t boast such trackpads.
As for the rest of its specs, it’s running on a Core i5 (1.7GHz Ivy Bridge) processor and 4GB of RAM, which we find is enough for most standard light usage needs like web-surfing, music and videos. It will retail for about just above S$1000, quite a bit more affordable than the notebooks under the Zenbook series branding. An obvious give-away of its more affordable nature, is the rather dated screen resolution of just 1366 x 768 pixels, and the lack of an SSD. However, what you will have is a 500GB mechanical HDD, augmented by a 24GB SSD cache. This means you will still have the speedy boot-up and resume times that have become an Ultrabook hallmark, but it won't be as speedy as a true performance SSD unit.