Dual-screen hybrid PC shares content without a projector

The sensational-looking ASUS TAICHI is less than 3mm thin on one edge.
The sensational-looking ASUS TAICHI is less than 3mm thin on one edge.
Windows 7-powered EliteBook 15-inch notebook is currently selling on the HP website for a fraction of its MSRP.
Windows 7-powered EliteBook 15-inch notebook is currently selling on the HP website for a fraction of its MSRP.

As I mentioned on the Fox 8 News Morning Edition last week, many PC shoppers today can't decide whether to buy a tablet or a notebook, so the idea of one device serving as both is very appealing. Unfortunately, many believe a PC that performs equally well in both roles has yet to be produced.

The TAICHI (pronounced "Tie-Chee") by ASUS is the latest challenger. Sporting a mirror-black, bevel-edged lid and interior reminiscent of an ASUS ZENbook, TAICHI's slender profile tapers to a mere 3mm. This sleek, beautifully-crafted ultrabook would be an eye-catcher even without its innovative dual-screen design. Two back-to-back full HD screens, however, make it a show-stopper.

Offering a choice of either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, the device switches seamlessly between multi-touch tablet and notebook operation. Lid open, TAICHI is a notebook with a full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) screen, backlit keyboard, and gesture-sensitive touchpad. With the lid closed, it becomes a lightweight tablet with a full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution), 10-point multi-touch screen. The back-to-back screens can be used in four modes. You can actually share a presentation or a movie with an audience on both sides, eliminating the need for a projector or an external display.

ASUS says that IPS display technology ensures a brilliant image on both screens, with accurate color reproduction and 178° wide viewing angle. The operating system is of course Windows 8, and a battery-powered stylus is provided for pinpoint precision with productivity and creative apps.

The maximum installable RAM is only 4GB, but you have a choice of either a 128GB or 256GB solid-state hard drive. Standard hardware includes Intel HD 4000 graphics, two USB 3.0 ports, dual-band Wi-Fi with Intel WiDi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The unit also features a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with 1080p Full HD video recording. A second 720p HD video camera (with noise-suppressing array microphone) handles video chat. SonicMaster technology, developed with Bang & Olufsen ICEpower, ensures top sound quality, and 5 - 7 hours of battery life is claimed.

Two models are available. The TAICHI21 has a 11.6-in. screen and tips the scale at 2.75 lbs. The TAICHI31 has a 13.3-inch screen and weighs 3.43 lbs. Prices start at $1,299. For more information, visit ASUS.com.

Windows 8 Upgrade Offer draws to a close

The holidays are over, school has started, new products unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are grabbing all the headlines, and PC sales are slow. 

With Super Bowl less than two weeks away, consumers tend to be more interested in buying a new TV than a new notebook or tablet. Now, imagine that you're a retailer, stocked to the gills with Windows 7 computers and the deadline for Microsoft's $15 Windows 8 upgrade offer is fast approaching. 

The offer affords U.S. consumers who purchase a qualified PC between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 a $25 discount towards a downloaded copy of Windows 8 Professional (Upgrade Edition), which Microsoft is selling to owners of PCs running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 for $39.99 as a special introductory offer. Qualified registrants can also obtain the Windows 8 upgrade on DVD for $69.99. 

A "qualified PC" is one purchased with Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate pre-installed. The upgrade offer is limited to one per purchase and five per customer. The deadline, however, to place your order is February 28, 2013. For more information, visit WindowsUpgradeOffer.com.

After February 28th, the price for the downloadable Windows 8 Professional upgrade could revert to its ERP of $199.99, so it's easy to see why there might be an up-tick in retailers' eagerness to reduce their stock of PCs with factory-installed Windows 7.

Windows 8 introduced the idea of "modern Windows," a paradigm where the operating system is equally usable on a notebook, tablet, or smart phone, provided the devices are equipped with a touch-screen. Most PCs designed for Windows 7 lack this type of display, which forces Windows 8 upgraders to cope with a desktop absent the familiar Start Button and program menu.

With new, touch-enabled PCs arriving each day and the deadline for the $15 Windows 8 upgrade nigh, prices for Windows 7-equipped notebooks and desktops are perched to plummet.

As evidence, consider the promotion currently appearing on HP.com for business-class notebooks equipped with Windows 7. A 15.6-inch HP EliteBook 8570p powered by an Intel Core i7 2.60GHz processor and 8 gigs of RAM is selling for under $1,000.

The unit's list of features includes an LED-backlit anti-glare (1920 x 1080 max. resolution) screen, AMD Radeon HD 7570M graphics, 720p HD webcam, 9-Cell Li-Ion battery, super-multi DVD, touchpad plus point stick, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless, 56K v.92 modem, and more. HP Elite Support with limited 3-year standard parts and labor is also included, all at a deep discount (with free shipping). See HP.com for details.

Should you forego Windows 8 and take advantage of deals like these?  It depends, but if you are content with the old paradigm for Windows computing (non-touch screen, keyboard, and mouse), buying A Windows 7 PC could save you a bundle.

Once the Windows 8 upgrade offer comes to an end, it's likely both brick-and-mortar and online merchants will start dumping their remaining Windows 7 inventory. The wise PC shopper will keep a watchful eye for bargains. You just might see your dream machine selling for a fraction of its MSRP.