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Intel At Computex: ‘Just Wait Until Next Year,’ As Asus Unveils Padfone

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Seeking an answer to the rise of the tablet, the traditional PC industry is gathered in Taipei this week for Computex, one of the largest hardware-related shows of the year. A trio of announcements from Intel (NSDQ: INTC), Asus, and Acer shows just how desperately dozens of companies are to get in on the largest source of growth in the hardware industry, and how far they might have to go. Here are some highlights from the first day of Computex:

Intel: The granddaddy of the PC industry is noticeably absent from the reinvention of the personal computer, with nearly every smartphone or tablet shipping these days features a chip designed by ARM and made by companies like Samsung, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM). Intel has wanted to change that for quite some time with no traction, and made yet another promise Tuesday that future smartphones and tablets would bear an Intel chip called Atom, this time pushing things out until the first half of 2012. It’s a story many have heard before.

But when it comes to regular notebooks, Intel has a plan to help system builders construct what they are calling “Ultrabooks,” or something like a cross between a regular thin-and-light notebook such as the Macbook Air and a netbook: thin laptops for under $1,000.

Asus: Several companies expressed support for Intel’s Ultrabook concept during the show, Asus being one of them. But the company also unveiled a combination phone/tablet that it’s calling the Padfone. It’s really more like a smartphone that ships with a display, and only a preproduction model was shown off at the show.

Acer: Another traditional PC maker having a hard time adjusting to a new reality, Acer showed off one of the first phones in the wild running Microsoft’s new Mango version of Windows Phone 7. Followers of Microsoft’s mobile strategy have expressed early concerns that Acer’s W4 is based on similar hardware and uses a similar design compared to earlier Windows Phone 7 devices, whereas Mango is supposed to be a more-capable operating system release that upgraded hardware could better exploit.