Asus bets on several forms to win Tablet fans

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 06 Jan 2011

Asus Shih 2

LAS VEGAS: Taiwan’s AsusTek Computer Inc plans to start selling an array of Tablet computers — including hybrids that sit somewhere between a laptop and a Tablet — with the hope that variety is the best weapon against Apple Inc’s iPad and other similar gadgets.

Asus chairman Jonney Shih unveiled the new devices ahead of the International Consumer Electronics Show here. These included the Eee Pad Transformer, which is a laptop that splits in two to function as a Tablet, and the Eee Pad Slider, a Tablet with a keyboard that slides out of its left side.

“We admire companies like Apple that offer great innovation, but they provide very limited choices for the customers,” Shih said. “Different kinds of customers have different kinds of needs, and the best way to better serve them is to provide choice.”

Asus, which essentially created the market for low-price netbooks with the 2007 launch of the Eee PC line, will need this strategy to pan out if consumers gravitate toward Tablets as quickly as analysts expect. And Asus won’t just be contending with the iPad: The company is just one of many big names expected to unveil Tablets. It hopes the Transformer and its other Tablets will be among the winners. When using a full-sized keyboard docking station, the Transformer appears to be a black laptop, but once opened its screen detaches by sliding out of a slot on the keyboard’s edge. The device’s touchscreen will measure 10.1in diagonally and is half an inch thick.

Shih said the Transformer will run the upcoming Honeycomb version of Google Inc’s Android software, which will be more geared toward Tablets than the current version for smartphones.

It will get up to 16 hours of battery life and include an nVidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor. The Transformer is set to begin selling in April for US$399 to US$699 (RM1,300 to RM2,200) in the United States, depending on its configuration. Asus has not said how much memory it will include.

Other ones

The Slider will have the same hardware features as the Transformer — including the same processor, 10.1in screen, and Android operating software — but its keyboard won’t be detachable.

Just 0.7in thick, it is scheduled to be sold starting in May for between US$499 and US$799 (RM1,600 and RM2,600) in the States. Shih did not say how much built-in memory it will have.

Shih presented two other Tablets as well: The Eee Slate, which appeared to be the same Tablet he showed at the Computex Show in Taiwan last year, and the Eee Pad MeMO.

The Slate, which will run Microsoft Corp’s regular PC operating software, Windows 7, will come with a 12.1in touchscreen that has 1,280-by-800-pixel resolution. It will include a 34-gigabyte or 64-gigabyte hard drive and a more powerful Intel Core i5 dual-core processor.

The MeMO will have a 7in touchscreen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It will run the Honeycomb version of Android.

The Slate will cost US$999 to US$1,099 (RM3,200 to RM3,500) in the US market and be available this month, while the MeMO is set to be sold for US$499 to US$699 (RM1,600 to RM2,200) in June.

All the upcoming Tablets will include the ability to play high-definition video. All but the Slate will have cameras on the front and back for taking photos and video chatting; the Slate will have one camera on its face. — AP

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