The Asus Taichi is here! A quick hands-on.

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We were at the Asus Launch earlier today, and among the many devices released was the Asus Taichi, the Taiwanese computer giant’s premiere entry to the Windows 8 powered tablet computer– sort of. It’s not that it’s a premiere product, nor is it because it’s not a tablet. We’re hesitant to keep it caged in that one category because it’s so much more. The outside of the Taichi is a separate screen that is basically an extension of the main screen. It is an interesting concept, and we were able to get a little time to play with the device.

One of the things I personally liked about the Taichi is the fact that you can switch from laptop mode to tablet mode just by closing the lid. You don’t have to worry about folding and twisting the screen or undocking the tablet and finding a place to stow the keyboard. When the situation calls for it, snap the Taichi shut, and hey presto. A tablet.

Above you can see it in laptop mode. It’s totally unremarkable, and feels just about the same as many of the current-gen laptops in the market today. It has soft keys that are a little shallow, but responsive, and the touchpad, right where it should be. I was trying to get the back screen to switch on, but the option on the desktop was a little deeper in the UI than my time would allow. I closed the lid and waited a quick half second for the lid to recognize what was happening, and the laptop was now a beautifully designed tablet. You can see in the photo below that it’s the exact same desktop as in laptop mode.

It’s the same gorgeous 11.6 inch full HD screen as the inner one, and it looks great. The Taichi even includes support for the Wacom digitizer, so you can use it as a platform for your sketches and handwritten notes.

I know it is obvious, but the OS is nothing short of perfect tablet form factor. Everything is intuitive and fast. While there was a quick pause when transitioning from Laptop to tablet, tablet performance was instantaneous, without the slightest delay when transitioning between screens. The execution of the OS is perfect, and it is great to see that Windows 8 works just as well in both form factors.

In portrait mode, which I believe to be the natural state for tablets, the Taichi is well-balanced, and you’ll really appreciate how light it is, even with a full keyboard just under the screen. In this configuration, it’s much more comfortable to hold with a single hand, leaving the other free to manipulate the OS.

The Taichi runs an Intel Core i7-3517U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and retails for 85,995. Yeah. I want one, too.