Heeeeeere’s Jonny! James and I are listening to the Asus news and the talk is WiMAX, WiMAX, WiMAX. Asus sees the mobile Internet as the future and is betting big on WiMAX. Anticipated range in urban areas is up to 10k with ranges of 50k in rural areas and downloads in the 2- to 4 Mbps range. I don’t doubt the claims, but WiMAX here in the U.S. is (in my opinion) a technology implementation in flux. Then again, Jonny is on stage and I’m not, so what do I know. Additionally, Sprint is on the stage discussing the partnership and support of Asus with Sprint’s XOHM service. Sprint wouldn’t commit to a monthly service price for WiMAX but we heard "I suspect it will be more affordable than 3G".
The new EeePC will indeed be WiMAX-ready, but how well does it work? We’re now watching a WiMAX demo of video streaming and… OMG, it’s MY VIDEO OF TYLER WITH THE EEE! I had to stand up and we just got a round of applause. Go figure that jkOnTheRun was actually part of the Asus press conference. ;)
So what will this great connectivity cost you in a device when WiMAX is rolled out? Asus plans for an entry-price point of $999… not for the Eee PC, Jonny didn’t say what that price will be but he says it will be "very competitive". For the Eee to remain attractive, I’d guess we’ll see a price of under $500… just a guess, plus you have to pay for the WiMAX service of course.
We got a look at the Asus 2008 roadmap and paid particular note to the UMPC and Eee PC bits. We should see the new Asus Eee PC models in the second quarter and we’ll have three to choose from. The only variance provided was the screen sizes, but there could be other differences as well: 7-, 8- and 8.9-inch screens will be offered and the resolution will get kicked up to a more usable 1024 x 600. Each will be WiMAX ready as previously mentioned, but I don’t expect the WiMAX rollout to be quick: one slide mentioned 20% of mobile device users will experience WiMAX… by 2009. Hmm…
Also on the roadmap was the R50A UMPC and there was only one model; no major variants planned in 2008. We got up close and personal with the device and it’s much nicer than the first R2H series in terms of design. Gone is the brick-like look as are a few ounces of weight: this one tops the scales at 1.2-pounds. There’s WiMAX a digital TV tuner and an integrated GPS on the inside, but to keep the size and weight down, the screen was reduced from the R2H’s 7-inches to 5.6-inches at 1024 x 600. No QWERTY keypad, but there are a good number of hardware buttons. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the unit powered up, so no true play-time.
After the press conference was over, I told Jonny that since he used my video in his press conference, he owed me a picture with him and Eeegor. James was kind enough to snap the shot; thanks Jonny!
This was defintely one of the highlights so far and one of the main reasons to attend: meeting people in the industry. Time for a short break as we now catch our breath. Just 1.5 hours before we attend ShowStoppers! What will see there? Better yet: what will you see there practially at the same time we see it?!?