Analysts say manufacturers are concerned about Windows 8's impact on a sluggish PC market, but you'd never know it looking as Asus' holiday lineup.
Tuesday, the company officially introduced more than a dozen new Windows laptops and tablets stretching across four different product lines -- and that doesn't even take the company's new Windows 8 all-in-ones into account.
First and foremost is the 2.75 lb. Asus Taichi, the innovative convertible with 11.6-inch 1080p IPS displays sitting pretty on both sides of the lid. In laptop mode, the Asus Taichi's rear screen makes it a breeze to show off movies and spreadsheets to an attentive audience. Who needs a projector?
That secondary display becomes the primary display when you close the Ultrabook and convert it to tablet mode. Even with those dual displays hogging all that space, Asus still managed to squeeze a pair of cameras on the hybrid, with the front-facing 5-megapixel shooter capable of taking 1080p HD videos.
No matter how you hold it, the Taichi packs a lot of power under the hood; the $1,299 base model starts with a low-voltage Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a speedy 128GB SSD, with performance (and pricing) only going up from there. Regardless of the model you choose, you'll get Bang & Olufsen ICEpower speakers, USB 3.0 ports and a stylus when the line launches in November.
Next up is the Asus VivoBook series, a new line designed to take advantage of Windows 8's new strengths, sporting touchscreen 1,366 × 768 displays, large touchpads and 32GB of free Asus WebStorage for 3 years. All models wake within two seconds a sport a metallic design reminiscent of the famous Zenbook series, albeit in a range of color options.
The 11.6-inch Asus VivoBook X202 lineup looks to be the more budget friendly of the bunch, sporting low-power Intel Pentium, Celeron or Core i3 processors along with a mechanical hard drive and a maximum of 4GB of RAM. The 14-inch VivoBook S400, by comparison, offers more RAM, more powerful Core i5 and Core i7 processor options, and a 24GB SSD cache drive. Asus didn't supply pricing or availability details, but Computerworld reports it will start at $799 with a dock.
Intel-powered devices don't get all of Asus' love, though. The VivoTab RT tablet sports an quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and the Windows RT operating system built just for ARM-powered slates. Despite having a 10.1-inch Super IPS+ display protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass, the itty-bitty tablet measures less than a third of an inch thick and weighs a barely there 1.15 lbs. Rounding out the specs are 2GB of RAM, either 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage, micro-HDMI and micro-SD ports, an 8MP front camera, and optional 4G LTE connectivity via a model available at AT&T.
As a Windows RT device, it ships with Office 2013 installed, and Asus leverages that advantage by offering the VivoTab RT with a docking station for a starting price of $599, with preorders opening today. Sorry, penny-pinchers: you can't save a few bucks by ditching the docking station, as Asus is only selling them as a pair. On the plus side, Asus claims the dock boosts the VivoTab's battery life from 9 hours all the way up to 16 hours of continuous use. Microsoft Surface Touch Cover-esque "Smart Sleeves" will also be available.
Asus also announced the Transformer Book, a mixture of the Zenbook and Transformer lines. The details were kept to a minimum, but this Windows 8 hybrid features a detachable screen for those times when you only need a tablet, not full-fledged notebook functionality. The company says the Transformer Book will be available in configurations that include powerful Core i7 processors and high storage capacities.
Finally, the Zenbook line -- a perennial favorite amongst Ultrabooks -- is also getting a Windows 8 refresh. Earlier this year the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A managed to snag an Editors' Choice award for its bright screen and blazing-fast Core i7 processor; now, it'll have all that plus Windows 8 and a new touchscreen display. A bevy of Zenbooks will be available in a wide array of configurations and price points, all of which you can read about on Asus' Zenbook page.