Jan. 4, 2011 at 6:05 PM ET
Asus introduced four tablets today, the Eee Pad Slider, a 10-inch Android tablet with a slide-out keyboard, the Eee Pad Transformer, another 10-incher with a breakaway keyboard, a 7-inch Android tab and a 12-inch Intel Core i7-powered Windows 7 "slate."
Here are the basics about each:
Eee Pad Slider - Imagine a 10-inch tablet with a slide-out keyboard like the one found on a Motorola Droid smart phone. Then imagine an iPad stand that props the iPad up in a way that you can view it more vertically. Put those two together and you get the Slider, which stands up on its own, thanks to its keyboard. It will run Android's upcoming Honeycomb operating system for tablets, and will have dual cameras, front and rear. It's slated to cost $499 to $799, and to ship in May.
Eee Pad Transformer - Shown up top, it's a super-thin 10-inch tablet hinged to a keyboard, so that it looks like a laptop ... until you don't want it to. Then you just break the keyboard off and carry the tablet on your way. It will also run Android (presumably the Honeycomb). It'll sell for $399 to $699, starting in April.
Both the Slider and the Transformer are big steps forward because they'll be major-brand releases with the same screen size as the iPad. Right now, 7-inchers abound. Speaking of ...
Eee Pad MeMO (rhymes with "Nemo") - This 7-inch Android tablet works with finger or stylus, runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and can manage 1080p playback. This one won't be out until June, and will cost between $499 and $699, surprisingly high for a smaller item.
Eee Slate EP121 - "It's a PC, but it's not very PC," says Asus chairman Jonney Shih. It has a 12.1-inch screen, an Intel Core i5 processor, Windows 7 Home Premium, and of course does a bunch of Windowsy things, like videochat. It supports a Wacom digitizer pen, but also multitouch with your finger. It'll be out this month, ranging in price from $999 to $1099.
Shih concluded his presentation with a view of the future, if Asus has anything to do with it. Is it a little corny? Sure, but I'll be darned if you don't want stretchy tablets, not to mention waking up every morning to a virtual hallucination of chirping doves.
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