Microsoft promised new form factors with the launch of Windows 8, and it looks like Asus is about to deliver one in the form of the much-rumored Transformer AiO.
Unlike the Windows 8 hybrid tablet/laptops that are starting to appear, the Transformer AiO is part of a new class of hybrid desktop (or "table PC"), like the Lenovo Horizon and Sony Tap 20. Unlike those models, the new Asus actually has a solid release date of the early second quarter.
The Transformer AiO takes the form of a massive 18.4-inch touchscreen with 1,920x1,080 resolution that can work either as a tablet or, when attached to its base station, as a desktop. As a slate, it uses a Tegra 3 processor with 32GB of internal storage. You can even switch from Windows 8 to Android for its full lineup of apps. If you want to stay in Windows 8 mode, the display essentially serves as a remote desktop wirelessly connected via the base station.
When docked, the Transformer AiO becomes a traditional Windows 8 desktop (albeit one with a touchscreen), using Intel Core processors, a traditional hard drive, and a Nvidia GeForce GT 730M mobile graphics card. As giant a screen as it is for a tablet, the 18.4-inch monitor isn't so massive for desktop use, but it's a compromise you'd presumably make if you want the hybrid features of the device.
The Transformer AiO will start at $1,299 when it starts shipping early in the second quarter, which isn't exactly the type of mainstream pricing that will move the big units that Microsoft envisions. However, this may be the start of a trend that transforms desktop computing, with pricing eventually easing as the concept catches on. (Then again, even Asus itself says that Windows 8 sales haven't lifted off yet.)
Do you have an interest in buying the Transformer AiO? Do you think it's the model for a new wave of desktop computing, or that it will be a dead end? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section below.