Microsoft must have lifted some sort of Windows 8 pre-order embargo today. In addition to being able to reserve a copy of the OS, folks can now pre-order several different Asus systems designed for Win8. My favorite of the bunch is easily the Taichi 21, an 11.6" hybrid with two 1080p IPS displays: one in the usual place and a second one on the system's lid. Anyone up for a game of Battleship?
In addition to supporting 10-finger touch, the screens work with an included stylus that offers 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. Impressively, the dual-screen config hasn't ballooned the Taichi's proportions. The chassis measures just under 0.7" thick, according to Asus, and it weighs 2.75 lbs with the included 6-cell battery.
There are two Taichi 21 configurations available for pre-order right now. The Taichi21-DH51 is the more affordable of the two, with a $1300 asking price. That config gets you a dual-core Core i5-3317U processor running at 1.7GHz with a 2.6GHz Turbo peak, Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, 128GB of solid-state storage, and 4GB of RAM. Dropping another $200 on the Taichi21-DH71 upgrades the CPU to a Core i7-3517U, which runs at 1.9-3.0GHz, and also bumps the SSD to 256GB.
If you're not persuaded by the Taichi's hybrid nature, the VivoBook X202 is more of a traditional notebook. This 11.6-incher is quite a bit more affordable, at $600, but it's a little bit thicker and heavier than the Taichi. While the screen still supports multi-touch input, the display resolution is only 1366x768, and there's no mention of IPS panel technology. VivoBook pre-orders seem to be limited to one configuration, the X202E-DH31T, which includes a Core i3-3217U CPU, 500GB of 5,400-RPM mechanical storage, and 4GB of RAM.
As one might expect, all these systems have USB 3.0 ports, built-in Bluetooth, and support for 802.11n Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, none of them offers Gigabit Ethernet. Wired networking seems to be restricted to Fast Ethernet connections, which top out at a mere 100Mbps. Thanks to Engadget for the tip.