Yesterday Asus held its annual Computex press conference, and the company Chairman Jonney Shih was on fire, telling the gathered media that Asus Open Cloud Computing, or AOCC is the future. The company is still working out all the technical details, but apparently, that's not really the point. Despute the fact that AOCC is still up in the ether, Jonney Shih did manage to wow the crowd twice, first with the new Transformer AiO and secondly with the Taichi dual-screen notebook.
The Transformer AiO is an interesting beast, consisting of a desktop unit and a removable 18.4in display. We wouldn't call an 18.4in screen a tablet, but despite its unwieldy size, when the screen is removed from the desktop unit, it stays connected with it over Wi-Fi. This allows the user to take advantage of the Nvidia GPU, which is housed in the rather bulky desktop stand, without even being anywhere near the GPU itself.
The desktop unit is home to four USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a pair of audio jacks, a TV-tuner, an Ethernet port, what appears to be an HDMI input and an optical drive. The tablet part is home to a microSD card slot, a mini HDMI port, what looks like a USB host port and an audio jack. As you can see from the pictures, an 18.4in tablet isn't something that you'd give to your kids to play with, unless you have very big kids with even bigger hands!
Moving on we have the Taichi which really caused a stir. It is, as far as we're aware, the first notebook to feature a screen on both sides of its lid. The Taichi will be available with 11.6in and 13.3in displays with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. The screen on the outside is touch sensitive, whereas the internal one is a regular display.
Connectivity wise the Taichi has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a headset jack, what appears to be either a custom VGA port or a mini-DisplayPort connector and a micro-HDMI port. There's also a lock switch that will prevent the screen from rotating when in tablet mode. Internally Asus has fitted an Intel Ivy Bridge CPU and an SSD of some type, but that was as far as the company was willing to go where specs are concerned.
Additionally Asus unveiled three new Transformer tablets, the Book, the 810 and the 600. The Book is pretty much Asus' Zenbook with a removable display - it will be available in 11.6, 13 and 14in variants. The 810 is an Atom powered 11.6in device with a built in Wacom digitiser for accurate stylus input - it sports 64GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM and an unspecified Intel Atom processor. Finally the 600 is a Tegra 3 powered machine with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, running Windows RT.
Asus also showed off its new 802.11ac home router, the RT-AC66U, which offers speeds of upto 1.3Gbps. Oddly enough none of the new devices announced appeared to support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, although we probably won't be seeing 802.11ac notebooks until Intel adds the new standard to its platforms.
Finally Asus' subsidiary Asustor was showing off a new NAS powered by a dual core Atom processor. The company said the new NAS has a very easy to use UI, making it ideal for consumers who don't know how to configure a network storage device.
Overall Asus managed to impress this year at Computex, but we have a feeling many of its new and innovative products could carry correspondingly high price tags. We grilled Asus about the Taichi pricing, but apparently it had been something of a black ops project within the company and very few people knew more than the basic specs. That said, with dual 1080p displays, it's not going to be cheap, especially not in such a svelte and light package.