ASUS’s Prototype PCs Might Just Be The Precursors To Future Designs

With the commercial release of Windows 8 looming closer and closer, Taiwanese company ASUS wants to get a leg up by showcasing PC prototypes designed around the operating system’s unique architecture.

Windows 8, of course, is Microsoft’s upcoming OS which seeks to usher in the so-called “post-PC era.” The computer giant intends to do this by integrating touch screen control interfaces with the full functionality of traditional PC operating systems.

To say that this news has created a stir in the PC world is an understatement. With the popularity of portable gadgets and laptops for sale reaching greater heights in recent years, it was only a matter of time before full desktop functionality was brought outside the home as well.

ASUS wants to capitalize on this speculated trend before it even gains a foothold. The company unveiled three PC prototypes at the Computex trade show in Taipei in June which showcased how near-future computers might look and function: A clunky-looking semi-portable desktop, a curious dual-screen ultrabook, and a relatively conventional convertible hybrid.

The Transformer AIO

ASUS Transformer AIO

ASUS’s desktop is dubbed the Transformer AIO (short for all-in-one). In a nutshell, it’s how you would imagine a desktop convertible hybrid would look like. The monitor is placed on a dock. When removed, it becomes a “wireless display for the AIO PC” (to quote the ASUS representative). That statement suggests that, like a convertible hybrid laptop’s detachable screen, the AIO monitor isn’t self-powered. This means that the requisite hardware needed to make the computer work are housed in the dock itself.

This then poses the questions: Does this mean that the AIO’s hardware would be rigidly constructed much like laptop components are? Wouldn’t that remove the upgradeable flexibility (a standard desktop feature by now) of the AIO? Or is it that future desktop innards will be constructed smaller?

The world is of course familiar with iMac all-in-one desktops which aren’t upgradeable; but this is a Windows-based system we’re talking about here.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Taichi

ASUS Taichi

Now this is a curious contraption right here: The Taichi is ASUS’s laptop which features, of all things, a dual-sided HD screen. That is, its lid has a screen on both sides. The inner screen uses Windows 8’s traditional keyboard-and-mouse control interface, while the outer one uses the OS’s touchscreen interface.

Speculations about this weird screen setup abound, ranging from the relatively tame “it’s probably just a stylistic choice,” to the more preposterous “it’s so that two users can operate it at the same time.” The eventual truth, as is often the case, is probably somewhere in between.

One thing’s for sure: This particular design must have something to do with whatever else Windows 8 has hidden under its sleeve. After all, if ASUS was just going for traditional display uses as we know them now, wouldn’t it have made more sense (and aesthetic appeal) to just use a swiveling screen?

Then again, I could be wrong.

The Transformer Book

ASUS Transformer Book

Riding on the convertible hybrid wave, ASUS unveils its own in the form of the Transformer Book; which for all intents and purposes is the most conventional prototype the company showed at the convention.

Most of its specs have been revealed, indicating that the product may well be on its way to full-on production. It contains an Intel Core i7 processor (with i3 and i5 options available as well), 4 GB of RAM, and quite possibly an SSD hybrid. As of the moment, ASUS still can’t decide whether they’ll be incorporating an AMD or an NVIDIA graphics processor. All that’s known is that the Transformer Book will definitely be using a discrete GPU.

The First Forays Into Future PCs?

Microsoft’s push into bringing PC functionality to the next level is bringing many new, exciting, and sometimes weird developments out of the woodwork. Are ASUS’s prototypes actually a glimpse of what might be, or will they be eventually relegated to the “failed experiments” bin?

We’ll just have to wait and see.


Colleen Northcutt, a resident writer at Laptopaid, also contributes articles to various tech blogs. She specializes in laptops, but she also writes about other things tech-related. When not working, she spends her free time watching movies and reading about fashion.

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TiH - September 14, 2012

all look great, but it’s the Taichi for me! 😀


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