Asus Taichi 21 – Fast performance dual screened laptop with one touchscreen
When Windows 8 first came out, all laptop manufacturers started making touch screen notebooks. There were some radical design changes done as touch screen interface is more user friendly and it welcomed flexibility. However, Asus Taichi is an unusual product even by these standards. We have seen laptops which can slide, rotate, fold, flip and completely separate from bottom half of clamshell.
Asus Taichi is available in two sizes – 13.3 inches and 11.6 inches. Both are ultrabooks and come with a distinct feature – double sided IPS LED-back lit screen. This laptop has standard clamshell design and there is touchscreen on the other side of this lid.
You can either choose to use one of the two screens or you can use both screens at the same time. Outer screen can be used either as secondary display or an extension of interior screen. Business men will find it useful while giving presentations. Or you can put some videos on the outer lid for kids to watch while you are working at home.
Intrinsically speaking, I am dubious about any real world use of this two screen feature. Asus might have made this to show ‘Wow, look what we can do!’. I showed this laptop to some of our office friends and they all had doubts about the practical uses of this laptop. It might be handful for some situations but it certainly won’t be useful in everyday use.
That said, dual screened design worked as promised and there is one big flaw in the design. The inner screen doesn’t support touch screen interface. You will be using the inner screen for most of the work and hence, the lack of touchscreen might frustrate you. Almost all Windows 8 laptops now have touch screens and they are all in the same price range. Hence, Asus Taichi loses on this front.
Asus Taichi 21 review says that the design of this laptop is quite similar to 11 inches ultrabook laptops. The body is relatively thin and its interior tray is dominated by big touch pad. The surface has glass and brushed metal look.
The touch screen on the lid is invisible when it is switched off. There is just one difference in both screens, the touchscreen display looks like it is made from shiny glass.
On the other hand, the external display looks nicer. It has the feel of an expensive touch screen and has glass from one edge to the other. When the laptop is closed, this it looks like a very thick tablet.
You will be spending most time on interior screen and isn’t as impressive. There is black thick bezel surrounding it from all the sides and it feels bit too small for this chassis. There is no touchscreen support for the interior screen and this is the biggest flaw.
You are bound to get confused while using the Asus Taichi 21. I am used to having Windows 8 laptops with interior touchscreens and hence I often touched the interior display while testing this product. We are so used to touchscreens on Windows 8 that it now gets frustrating to use the OS without touchscreen support.
I don’t know why Asus didn’t give 2 touchscreens. Maybe they have reserved it for next iteration. Having 2 touchscreens will make this laptop more useful.
Both screens of Asus Taichi 21 have full HD resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels. There is an app for monitoring the free space on hard drive, adjusting the power settings, and controlling the outer screen when lid is closed. There are 4 screen modes for scrolling through – exterior screen only, interior display only, dual display mode, or mirror image for both screens.
In our offices, we were thinking about different scenarios where the dual screens would come useful. The important ones were sharing presentation or videos without flipping the laptop for showing anyone, playing some media content for one screen and working on the other, and playing games like Battleship in dual screen model.
There are a lot of such scenarios but we don’t know if the dual screens would be useful regularly or not. These screens do work as promised though.
Keyboard and touchpad
There are some input tools given for making up for lack of interior touch based display. The flat top, island styled keyboard is very similar to what you get on most of the ultraportable laptops. The keys are big enough for typing comfortably especially the big Tab, Enter, and Shift buttons.
Touchpad of the Asus Taichi 21 is buttonless and large. It has click pad style design which is very popular these days. For 11 inches laptop, the size is good and there is multitouch gesture support as well.
I am used to using touchscreen navigation in Windows 8 OS but this touchpad was the second best thing to it.
Asus Taichi 21 is quite short on connections and ports even for ultraportable laptop. There is no SD card slot and you will need dongle for any video connectivity. There is no Ethernet port either and you will need a dongle for that as well. If you are going to use these ports; then your laptop bag needs to be full of adapters.
Asus Taichi price is $1,599. That was the cost of my review model which was 11.6 inches big and had Core i7 chip inside. There is slower Core i5 chip model offered for $1,299.
My review model had a 11.6 inch screen and the price was $1,599. It had Core i7 chip inside. There is Core i5 model offered for $1,299.
I got Core i7 and 256 GB SSD model inside. The Core i5 model has 128 GB SD and you can choose it as a less expensive option. However, lower end version doesn’t have 2 screens of 1,920×1,020 resolution.
In my testing, this Core i7 model worked fine and the performance was better than Atom Windows 8 and Core i5 laptops. Also, this performance was similar to other Core i7 laptops that I have tested in the past. I didn’t have any problems with the two touch screen setup. There weren’t any lags or slow-downs in my tests.
I didn’t expect stellar battery life from this system owing to the 2 screen system. I just used the interior display and got four and half hours of battery life. Some Core i7 notebooks run for 1-2 hours more. On the other hand, when I tested with both screens, the battery life went down to three hours 11 minutes. This is still impressive.
Asus Taichi 21 is an inventive and fun laptop. The idea may not be practical but it is still very clever. I haven’t seen anything like it before.
There might be more 2 screen laptops coming to market soon but right now, this is the only one. If you are looking for such a machine, then get the Asus Taichi 21.
- 1.9 GHz Intel Core i7-3517U processor
- 4 GB, 1600MHz DDR3
- 256 GB SSD
- Intel HM77 storage
- Windows 8 OS
- 3.2 pounds weight with adapter