Get ready for the hybrid PCs. With the coming Windows 8 full release, consumers and business users can expect to see more variations on several new, unusual computers shown by Asus on Monday at the Computex show in Taipei.
One is the Asus Taichi, which features two LED-backlit, 1080p displays. This two-headed creation allows the screens to operate independently of each other, with an outer, multi-touch-enabled display that allows the unit to function as a tablet when it's closed. A separate camera is attached to each screen.
AiO, Transformer Book
The Taichi, which will come in 11.6- and 13.3-inch screen sizes, is based on Intel Ivy Bridge processors and comes with a solid-state drive.
Asus also showed its Transformer AiO, which, as befits its name, can boot either Android or Windows 8 and is partly a tablet and partly an all-in-one PC . The removable, 18.4-inch LED-backlit multi-touch screen can be detached from the main unit, turning it into a wireless tablet.
The only catch is that the logic display for the screen remains in the main unit, transmitting wirelessly to the detached screen. This means that users will need to remain close to the mother ship.
And there's the Windows 8-based, Ivy Bridge-powered Asus Transformer Book, available in 11.6-, 13-, or 14-inch sizes. In its original state, the unit looks like a conventional notebook , although one with a touchscreen that allows touch-interaction with the Metro interface in Windows 8.
This 1920×1080 screen can also be detached from the unit, transforming itself into a tablet. The unit features NVIDIA discrete graphics, 4GB DDR3 dual channel RAM, USB 3.0, SSD and HDD storage , an HD camera on front and a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and a detachable QWERTY keyboard.
'Very Niche-Use Case'
The new Asus products are only some of the many form factors one can expect to see emerge as the day for Windows 8's full release, expected in the fall, gets closer. The new Windows offers both the touch-sensitive Metro 8 interface as well as a more traditional, keyboard-and-mouse based desktop interface, prompting the creation of a range of new possibilities in portable computing devices.
The key question, of course, is whether there are sufficient buyers for these multi-variant offerings. We posed that question to Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis.
Greengart pointed to the Taichi as a form factor that, if it's priced right, could appeal to "a very niche use case -- traveling sales people, who might want to show a presentation to one or more people sitting opposite from them." No price has yet been announced.
But, he noted, this "probably" does not represents a significant market. And, Greengart noted, to most people the Taichi "looks like a concept device."
Greengart said that the AiO also "fell into the amusing category," since it appears to be one of the form factors that "tend to be done because they can be."