Asus Taichi 21 Review – 3/5 Stars
The Asus Taichi 21 is one of the first Windows 8 devices I was really looking forward to seeing. Its key feature is the double sided display form factor which puts it into the laptop/tablet hybrid category. This 3mm thin machine combines looks and solid build materials to give you a device that not only looks luxurious and sexy, but also performs. But is the Asus Taichi 21 a compelling device? Let’s find out in this Asus Taichi 21 Review.
If you are in the market for a Windows 8 Tablet or a Windows 8 Laptop or Ultrabook, the Asus Taichi 21 may fulfill all of these roles. The Taichi includes a dual sided display, allowing you to use it as a conventional laptop or a tablet. With this configuration, there’s bound to be some positives and negatives. To see if this Windows 8 Tablet-Ultrabook convertible is right for you, let’s review the Asus Taichi 21 pros and cons:
Asus Taichi 21 Pros
Here are some of the things we like about the Asus Taichi 21, including advantages it has over comparable devices:
- Dual Display – Taichi’s main attraction is its dual display. This form factor is a bit of a niche but its ability to combine tablet and laptop functionality into one single product should offer advantages to both tablet and laptop lovers.
- Durable Screens – Asus Taichi 21 comes with Gorilla Glass covering its Lid display. This is an added precaution that not only protects the device from scratches, but also adds a stylish look.
- Excellent Build Quality – Holding the Asus Taichi 21 should give you a profound experience. This tablet/laptop wins the heart as soon as it is touched because of its luxurious high quality build.
- Performance Powerhouse – With Core i7 combined with 256GB Solid State Drive, the Asus Taichi 21 feels lightning fast. Thanks to Windows 8, the startup time is amazingly fast too. And if you are a multi-tasker, you’ll love the benefits that come with this processor.
- Small and Light – Being an ultrabook, the Asus Taichi 21 is not only stylish in looks, but is also small and very light. It is an amazing feat by the manufacturer to come up with a light design with a powerful chassis.
- The digitizer – The dual screen setup of Asus Taichi allows users to easily convert it into a tablet or laptop on the go. Unlike other tablets that include a Stylus, Taichi features a Digitizer. A Digitizer is nearly ten times better than a stylus when taking notes or simply scribbling your imagination. Many respectable artists from around the industry have always recommended the use of digitizer when working with Photoshop, so this makes the Taichi a winner to include a digitizer instead of a stylus.
- Vibrant full HD Display – Both displays on the Taichi 21 come with full HD support. That means you get to watch your favorite movies or series on glorious 1080p resolution, regardless of which screen you use.
- Great Sound – For a laptop/tablet hybrid, the Asus Taichi 21 amazes with its sound capabilities. It comes bundled with Wave Maxx, a software that allows you to set presets and control your sound using detailed equalizer. Popular recommendation is to keep the software running, as turning it off takes away the sound quality.
There are definite some benefits the Asus Taichi 21 provides to a potential buyer, but let’s take a look at some of its drawbacks and shortcomings.
Asus Taichi 21 Cons
Here are some of the disadvantages and drawbacks of the Asus Taichi 21:
- Lack of touch controls on interior screen – The Asus Taichi 21 cleverly combines the functionality of a tablet and laptop in one product. However, the lack of touch controls on the interior screen is quite a bit of a disadvantage. It means that every time you feel like using the touch controls – a basic necessity of Windows 8 tablet/laptop- you will need to convert it into a tablet, which feels like a problem every time.
- Abysmal Battery Life – It’s amazing to see that even with a low voltage processor, the Taichi does not offer reasonable charge times. With the brightness set around 50%, Wi-Fi turned on and continuous web surfing, the device only lasts 4 hours on an average. Imagine how much it would last if you put it through some torture. This is one of the biggest shortcomings of the Taichi.
- No Discrete GPU – Asus Taichi 21 comes with Intel HD 4000. With this internal graphics chip, you can only hope to view movies or series in high definition. The laptop/tablet hybrid is incapable of running high end video games of today, but should still power some games at low setting presets. This can be a major drawback for someone who casually games from time to time.
- Heat – The overwhelming power of the Intel Core i7 comes with a cost. The Taichi tablet pc can easily reach alarming temperatures especially at the battery/vent area. Average records show a streaming video on 1080p for fifteen minutes can put the temperatures between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Inaccurate Touchscreen – The Lid display of Asus Taichi 21 can often feel inaccurate. According to popular opinions over the internet, the users have often come across problems getting the touchscreen to recognize their gestures and commands. If we remember correctly, a Windows tablet should provide exceptional touch controls.
- Slightly Overpriced – At $1599.99, it’s sad to see no discrete GPU installed on the Taichi.
- Limited Use of Lid Display – Even though Taichi’s dual display setup has advantages over single display setups, we found that there are only a few occasions where you will be tempted to use the outer display.
- Requires Some DIY – One popular problem about Asus Taichi 21 is its trackpad. Apparently, the trackpad does not work properly until its driver is updated by the user.
- Lacking USB Ports – With no more than 2x USB 3.0 ports, you will be limited if you decide to use more than two peripherals that use USB connectivity.
- Limited Storage – Asus Taichi 21 comes with just a single SSD with a storage capacity of 256GB. Other laptops/ultrabooks in this price range also offer an internal HDD with capacity of up to 500GB.
- Distracting Bezel – One thing that will distract the user a lot is Taichi’s weird use of extra thick bezel around its internal screen. This also makes the 11.6 inches screen really small.
Asus Taichi 21 Review Round-up
To help you further with your buying decision, let’s see what the other reviewers are saying about the Asus Taichi 21.
Brian Westover from PC Mag talks about Asus Taichi 21’s defining characteristic; it’s dual screen form.
‘’The defining characteristic of the Taichi 21 is not its audio, or is it the keyboard, or the mouse, or anything else you would expect on a normal ultrabook. Instead, in addition to the 11.6-inch 1920-by-1080 resolution matte-finish IPS panel display that you see when the laptop is open, you also get a second 11.6-inch 1080p IPS touch screen built into the lid’’.
Chris Mills from Gizmodo didn’t exactly approve of the short battery life. He calls it a ‘Tragic Flaw’.
‘’Battery life — there isn’t any. In normal use — browsing the web, maybe while listening to music — the Taichi struggles to get to four hours of battery life. That’s mid-range laptop territory, not ultrabook and certainly not tablet-level battery life’’.
He also didn’t like the fact that the inside screen of the tablet lacked touch sensitive controls:
‘’Asus chose to make the outer screen touch-sensitive (duh), but not the inner screen. Every time you open the laptop up to the Start screen, you’ll find yourself reaching forward to touch an icon, before realising that you have to use the godawful trackpad’’.
Jason Evangelho of Forbes also pointed out the weak battery of Asus Taichi 21. He hopes for a revision version by Asus to address critical issues like ‘no expandable storage’ and ‘disappointingly short battery life’.
‘’I was one of the Taichi’s earliest supporters, and will continuously applaud ASUS for its ingenious hardware design chops. It genuinely upsets me to hand the machine this kind of verdict. Unfortunately the Taichi’s niche appeal, lack of expandable storage, and poor battery make it difficult to recommend for the mainstream consumer, or even for the majority of business professionals.
The Taichi foreshadows sensational promise, and hopefully ASUS will deliver a Rev2 that implements dual touch screens and extended battery life – perhaps with the help of Intel’s upcoming Haswell chipsets’’.
Dan Ackerman of CNET believes the tablet will live up to the expectations of ‘Dual Screen’ tablet fans. But he also did not like the lack of touch controls on the inside screen.
‘’The Asus Taichi 21 is fun, inventive, and a great conversation starter. It’s also likely more clever than practical for many, and has a bit of a novelty feel — but that’s true of many of the new breed of Windows 8 laptop/tablet hybrids, as PC makers struggle to find forms that will appeal to consumers. The marketplace will ultimately decide which designs move forward’’.
‘’If you’re interested in a dual-screen Taichi, however, it’s hard to not suggest waiting for the next generation of hardware (if there is one), which will likely have dual touch screens instead of this model’s mix of touch and non-touch’’.
Dana Wollman of Engadget credits the ‘high octane’ performance of the Taichi 21, but warns users about its inevitable heat issues.
‘’It does seem, though, that that high-octane performance comes at the cost of heat management. After leaving the system idle for a few hours and then picking it up to use Evernote, we noticed it was slightly hot around the vents on the bottom side. If you can find a place to put this other than your lap, you should be set, but you might run into a problem if you’re using it in tablet mode — it’s hard not to put your fingers on the back cover in that scenario’’.
Asus Taichi 21 Buying Advice
The Asus Taichi 21 is a brilliant idea on paper. Its dual screen possibilities are endless for professionals and students. If you are someone who uses a tablet often, this laptop/tablet can help save you time, space and effort of switching devices. The ability to quickly switch the laptop into a tablet is an excellent feature. Combined with Windows 8 and a powerful processor in its hood, it lives up to the expectation of users who respect time.
On the downside, the $1,599 price tag is a bit steep due to its short battery life and no discrete GPU. In this case, users can easily purchase an ultrabook (without dual screens) + an iPad for the same price, giving them the best of both worlds. Because of this, I do not recommend the Taichi at this time. However, if switching devices bothers you, the Asus Taichi 21 offers a lightweight design that can be converted into a laptop/tablet on the go. And if you fancy showing off luxurious devices that can transform like the robots in Transformers, this is a good device for that purpose.