ASUS Eee Pad Launches in UK Cheaper Than iPad 2

ASUS today announced availability and pricing for its Eee Pad Transformer, an Android Honeycomb (s goog) 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 (s aapl) 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 (s mmi), 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 (s nvda) 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(s msft), 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.