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Summary:

ASUS is launching its Eee Pad Transformer, a Google Android Honeycomb tablet with optional keyboard dock, for less than a comparable iPad 2. Based on similar (or better) specs, the Eee will give us the first glimpse at how well Honeycomb competes with Apple’s tablet.

asus-eee-pad-transformer

ASUS today announced availability and pricing for its Eee Pad Transformer, an Android Honeycomb tablet that has an optional keyboard dock. SlashGear reports the tablet will arrive in the U.K. on April 6 with pre-orders now underway for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model priced at £379 ($608 USD), which compares favorably to a similar iPad 2 model at £399. Adding the keyboard dock, which boosts device life to up to 16 hours thanks to an integrated battery, will cost £50 extra. Users can also opt for a 32 GB model at £429, an even greater discount from the £479 32 GB iPad 2.

Sales of the Eee Pad Transformer will be interesting to watch, because many consider pricing of the first Honeycomb tablet, Motorola’s Xoom, to be too high. Part of the reason buyers feel that way is that Xoom originally launched with only a 3G model available, with 32 GB of storage capacity for $799. Some compared that to Apple’s 16 GB Wi-Fi model at $499, because both models represented entry points into each company’s tablet line. Motorola has since announced a 32 GB Wi-Fi model for $599.

So the new Eee is a closer challenger to Apple’s iPad, at least when looking solely at specifications, even though the tablet experience is arguably more important than a checklist of hardware. For those interested, here’s a sample of the Eee Pad Transformer specs:

  • 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor
  • 10.1-inch multitouch IPS display with 1280 x 800 resolution and Gorilla Glass
  • 9.5 hour battery life alone, 16 hours with dock
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, gyroscope, memory card reader, HDMI output
  • 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front camera
  • Dimensions of 271 x 177 x 12.98mm and weight of 680 grams

In the face of a limited number of apps specifically designed for Honeycomb, ASUS is attempting to make the device stand out through unique hardware, software and services.

The obvious hardware difference is the full-sized keyboard with battery that functions as a dock. In terms of software, ASUS includes a wireless media streaming application, a library title to consolidate digital reading content, and a secure remote access app to control Windows, Macs or other Android devices. Additionally, ASUS is including unlimited web storage through the pre-installed MyCloud software.

Honeycomb tablets may have a long road ahead when competing against the second iteration of Apple’s iPad and supporting ecosystem, but at least with the new ASUS tablet, we’ll get a better idea of where Google-based tablets are headed.

  1. Would I spend my hard earned money on this device with hardly any apps and an unproven OS and interface? No.

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  2. Yes it will be very interesting who will buy this plastic piece.

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  3. It’s a “breakaway” netbook that has no full-pledged apps!
    Asus should have made an expensive touch-screen netbook instead of playing Apple’s game.

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  4. I approve of the use of the keyboard as an additional battery but if I can’t type in portrait mode and have a trackpad or mouse as well for cursor placement I’d spend the extra money for a MacBook Air.

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    1. Super point and one reason I started using tablets less: I bought a MacBook Air. Still have uses for tablets of course — they’re a different device class — but the Eee Pad Dock shows a notebook mentality IMO.

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    2. It has a trackpad and the ability to use a mouse and last I checked, you can’t rotate the screen on a MacBook Air (or any other laptop for that matter) to type in portrait so I’m not sure what you’re objecting to.

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      1. Yes, I see it has a trackpad. But my point was it offers little value to me over a lighter laptop unless it can add a feature like portrait mode.

        For example the Zagmate case for the iPad allows this. All I would need then is an accessory of the iPad that include a battery and say a port or two for who knows what. Since I would ALWAYS be carrying the added keyboard in either case why give up either the added feature of portrait mode or the full features of a notebook especially a very light MacBook Air?

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  5. so when are you going too update this article to reflect the US price of $399?

    similar weight & thickness to the original iPad but with modern specs, I might not wait until Samsungs debut afterall.

    all the Android blogs seem to be going nuts over it, if Asus releases this on a limited run it will be next to impossible to get.

    I’m not interested in the dock but I can still understand how other smight be, HP is going to be releasing webOS in a laptop form factor also. just because we dont like it doesnt mean it wont catch on with the mainstream & become a type of standard in a few years. those who try & predict the future are almost always wrong, in 2005 could we even imagine what 2010 turned out too be? iOS & Android have changed EVERYTHING.

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    1. “so when are you going too update this article to reflect the US price of $399?” As soon as it’s official: the pricing on Best Buy’s site was pulled. ;)

      If correct, it’s a heck of a price and gives all of the other Android tablet makers even more to think about when it comes to pricing.

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