One of the reasons Windows 8 is a big deal is the promise of newfangled devices that span laptop and tablet design. Here are some the hottest appearing at Computex in Taipei so far.
Asus more than any single PC maker is pointing the way toward this brave new device world with the Taichi, a dual-screen Windows 8 ultrabook sporting an extra tablet-mode display on the back of the display panel.
And that screen is no ordinary display: it boasts a resolution of 1,920x1,080: that's a lot of pixels for an 11.6-inch tablet screen. And there's a mirror function that synchronizes the front 13.3-inch display and rear display, according to Asus (see video below).
Taichi comes with the standard ultrabook ports, including two USB 3.0, a micro-HDMI, and a Mini DisplayPort connector.
And, yes, this is an ultrabook. Windows 7 ultrabooks haven't broken a lot of new ground: they're thinner and lighter but still laptops. Touch-centric Windows 8 and Windows RT allow device makers to move beyond the decades-old clamshell.
And speaking of Windows RT, Asus announced a 10.1-inch Windows RT convertible tablet today at Computex -- the first tablet officially displayed as a Windows RT device.
For the uninitiated, Windows RT is the upcoming version of Windows that runs on ARM chips from Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. Windows 8 runs on Intel chips.
Asus' tablet is powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core mobile chip (see video). "Nvidia and Asus have been working very closely with Microsoft to ensure that the Windows Metro interface runs beautifully on Windows RT systems powered by Tegra 3," Nvidia said in a statement.
One thing worth noting is that it could be mistaken for the Asus Transformer Prime. That is an Android convertible that looks eerily similar to the Windows RT device and which, maybe not coincidentally, packs an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor.
Finally, we have a device representing the category of Windows 8 laptops that will not be convertibles per se but will have touch-enabled screens. The Acer Aspire S7 will come in 11-inch and 13.3-inch versions.
It features a full-HD touch screen and "is impossibly thin from the side. It's supposedly 12mm thick -- thinner than the 17mm of Apple's 13.3-inch MacBook Air," according to CNET Asia.
I think it's safe to say that we can expect a crush of devices like the Aspire S7. In fact, in a year or so, ultrabooks without a touch screen will seem very dated. Not unlike a laptop today without a touchpad.
What's driving all of this is the touch-centric Windows Metro interface. Some may say that Windows 8 is too sharp of a break from the past because everything, including the traditional Windows desktop, is subordinated to touch. But I suspect that the touch tsunami is pretty much unstoppable.