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Thursday, January 6, 2011

ASUS Brings Transforming Android, Win7 Tablets to CES

ASUS has a knack for iterating like mad on a successful product, as demonstrated by the huge range of Eee netbooks we’ve seen on the market these past few years. Now the company is turning that focus to tablets, bringing not one, not two, but four tablets to CES. ASUS is clearly looking to make something for everyone (assuming you’re into tablets, of course); the devices range from a 7” Android device like the Galaxy Tab to a powerful 12” Windows 7 slate.

Taking a page from Lenovo’s book, ASUS even has a hybrid tablet/laptop system for this year’s show, the Eee Pad Transformer. Read on for more about the Transformer, keyboard-equipped Slider, Windows Slate EP121 and 7” MeMO.

Eee Pad MeMO

The smallest of the ASUS Eee tablets (pictured above), the MeMO fills out a tablet form factor we’re well familiar with. Like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, this tablet sports a 7” 600x1024 screen and runs on Android. Its dual-core 1.2GHz 8260 Snapdragon processor powers Android Honeycomb, and should prove to be quite snappy--ASUS says it’ll handle 1080p playback at 30 fps. Front and rear cameras are in, as is a microSD slot and HDMI out support. Want a capacitive stylus? That’s part of the package, too.

Availability: Q2-Q3 2011 for $499-$699.

Eee Slate EP121

The EP121 might just fit the bill for a laptop-replacement tablet: the slate is running on an Intel Core i5-470UM processor, comes with a solid state drive (32GB or 64GB) and 2GB or 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. It’ll need all that power to handle the 12.1” 1280x800 screen and Windows 7, and the inclusion of HDMI out, an SD slot, and 2 megapixel webcam bring this within low-end laptop territory.

But it’s the case that really seals the deal--the Eee Slate’s included folio case supplies a stand and the EP121 ships with a Bluetooth keyboard. Between the capacitive multitouch display, Wacom pen, and keyboard, you can interface with this thing in quite a few ways. At 2.5 pounds, it’s either a heavy tablet or very light laptop, depending on your perspective.

Availability: Q1 2011 for $999-$1099. Pre-orders should begin on Amazon soon.

Eee Pad Transformer

Here’s the weird one of the bunch. The Transformer is a fairly normal tablet running an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with a 16GB or 32GB SSD and 512MB or 1GB of RAM until you attach it to an optional keyboard dock. Then it really is a laptop, running on Android Honeycomb. The tablet comes equipped with a 1.2MP webcam and 5 megapixel camera and HDMI out.

The docking station adds a QWERTY keyboard, USB ports, card reader and double the battery life from 8 hours to 16 hours. With its 10.1” screen, the Transformer should make a pretty traditional netbook when docked with its keyboard.

Availability: Q2 2011 for $399 to $699. You’ll be spending more to get that docking station.

Eee Pad Slider

Okay, we take it back--the Slider may be even weirder than the Transformer. Instead of an optional docking station, the Slider actually carries its QWERTY keyboard around with it everywhere. It’s a slide-out design that allows the screen to be angled upwards and propped up like a makeshift laptop screen with the keyboard sliding out from underneath. It’s a lightweight design, though, cramming in a Tegra 2 and the same storage and RAM options as the Transformer at only 2.2 pounds.

The Slider will be running Honeycomb on a 10.1” IPS display, and includes the standard features of these ASUS tablets: microSd, HDMI out, and dual cameras. Expect 6 hours of battery life out of this unique tablet.

Availability: Q2 for $499 to $799.

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