Asus bets on features in slate battle

Taiwanese hardware vendor's range of devices targeted at different market segments and bundled custom software will give it an edge in heated tablet war, says company exec.

SINGAPORE--In a post-PC world flooded with tablets, Taiwanese computer maker Asus Technology is betting on its latest hybrid tablet and its range of slate devices aimed at different customer segments to win the market, according to a company executive.

In an e-mail interview in conjunction with the Friday launch of hybrid tablet Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Asus' business operation manager Bernard Wen noted that while the company has focused on consumers, it has a range of tablet devices targeted at different segments of the market. He pointed to the Asus Eee Slate B121, which is equipped with Microsoft Windows 7 Professional operating system and Intel Core i5 processor, as a device targeted at the commercial market.


Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Credit: Asus

The slate market has seen a recent flurry of Google Android tablets coming from big name makers such as Dell, HTC, Motorola, Samsung as well as other lesser known brands. When asked how Asus differentiates its latest product from the rest of the droids, Wen said the Eee Pad Transformer is "much more than just a tablet" with many different features.

For example, Eee Pad Transformer users can purchase a keyboard docking station to turn the tablet into a notebook for easier typing, he noted. In addition, the tablet boasts a 16-hour battery life as well as USB ports and micro SD card reader to facilitate file transfer. The tablet also comes with custom software such as cloud-based service MyCloud and media streaming service MyNet, he added.

Asus' tablet is also expected to go up against Chinese computer maker Lenovo's Ideapad U1 hybrid tablet, but Wen admitted that the company does not "really know much or heard about" its competitor's offering. However, he pointed out that the Ideapad U1 runs on Android 2.2 while the Eee Pad Transformer is powered by Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, and is bundled with custom software.

A Singapore-based Lenovo spokesperson, in response to an e-mail query from ZDNet Asia, reiterated that the "Ideapad U1 is currently only available in China" but did not state when the product will be launched outside of its home market.

Previous reports noted that Google has set strict restrictions for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) who are interested in building Honeycomb-based tablets, in contrast to its previous open stance on the Android mobile operating system. However, Wen said Asus has not heard of nor been subject to any restrictions.

A much tougher hill for Asus to climb is to topple tablet king Apple iPad from its throne. To achieve this, the company focused on enhancing the productivity features of the Eee Pad Transformer, Wen said, adding that the inclusion of USB ports, mini HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and MicroSD card reader boost the "expandibility" of the Transformer.

Wen also reiterated that Asus has a range of tablets targeted at different segments of the market. Apple, on the other hand, currently only has two versions of the iPad.

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