ASUS Taichi 21 (11-inch) - Dual Displays

Launch SRP: S$2698

Luxury You Can Do Without -- For Now

Luxury You Can Do Without -- For Now

We find that the ASUS Taichi 21 is a fairly capable Ultrabook. However we also feel that most users (and the Windows 8 OS) haven't figured out what to do with the secondary display yet.

Throughout the review of this product, we can’t help but feel that the Taichi is ahead of its time. Having two screens is definitely nice, but the second screen will always be underutilized. Firstly, since the displays are back-to-back, one screen will always be facing away from you. This means that only the person sitting across from you can appreciate it. Which begs the question, how often will there be someone there to appreciate your second screen?

That said, we can envision the secondary display being tremendously useful for people who are constantly sharing information with others like teachers, or sales people. They can use the mirror mode, or the secondary display mode to share and (or) collaborate with others easily. The third use scenario for the Taichi is a tablet. When closed, the Taichi is a fully functional Windows 8 tablet with the power of an Ultrabook.

Unfortunately as a tablet, it also has the same problems that the Vaio 11 and Satellite u920t has. It’s too heavy to be held in one hand for more than a minute. Although it's 11-inch screen size is only slightly larger than other 10-inch Android/iOS tablets, its 1.25kg weight makes it almost twice as heavy. 

Also take note that during our battery tests, we found that the secondary display drains as much as 20% of the machine’s battery -- which is already pretty bad no thanks to its limited battery capacity and fast processor. This means that the machine has to be plugged in if there was any intention to utilize the secondary touch display. We felt that ASUS should have added a larger battery than the 35Wh (most 11-inch Ultrabooks have the same capacity though) battery built into the machine to power its two full HD displays. However, some users might not prefer that as this would weigh the already portly 17.4mm, 1.25kg Taichi down even more.

That said, the ASUS Taichi 21 is a handsome and solidly built notebook. The interior of the machine is also pretty much mostly made of aluminum, just like an ASUS Zenbook, which means it’s quite sturdy and will be able to handle hard knocks. 

However, because it performs exactly like you’d expect an Ultrabook to, we found the machine’s $2698 price-tag hard to swallow, even when you consider its premium build quality and components. If you compare it with ASUS’ own full HD Zenbook ($2098 without touch), it actually costs $600 more for an additional (and smaller 11-inch) multi-touch display. This isn’t a strict comparison between the two machines, but rather an illustration of how costly it would be for ASUS to innovate with form factors. Because the Taichi is the first of its kind, it is expected to be a bit pricey, but we hope it won’t be this way for long.

We also find that if ASUS were to charge $600 more for the 11-inch Taichi, it should at least have made the primary display touch-capable as well. That's because we find that sometimes it's easier or faster to reach out to touch certain Windows 8 onscreen elements, than to do it with your trackpad. And even then, we hope consumers can figure out what they want to do with an additional display before committing to a dual-display Taichi. To end, the Taichi is an interesting take of a multi-function notebook but it would only appeal to a niche audience for now.

The Good
Dual full HD displays (one with touch capability)
Sturdy build
Good keyboard and trackpad
Novel approach to convertible notebooks
The Bad
Niche product
Battery life could have been better
Smudge prone exterior facing glass lid
Interior display should have been touch capable

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