CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

Summary: ASUS has a different tablet strategy than most of the vendors trotting out tablets at CES 2011. Learn it's two-pronged strategy for beating the iPad and get the details on its four tablets.

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CES 2011

On Tuesday, ASUS unloaded the first round of ammo at the Apple iPad, which promises to be the favorite target of the big tech vendors at CES 2011. As the first major company to host a CES press conference, ASUS dedicated nearly the entire hour to announcing its line of four tablets -- three Android and one Windows -- aimed squarely at stealing market share away from the iPad in 2011.

The biggest takeaway of the event was that ASUS has a different strategy than most of the PC and device makers trotting out tablets at CES. It's not just about launching cheap iPad clones that can detach users from the draconian Apple ecosystem. ASUS is betting that it can pull more users into the tablet market by providing a choice of four tablets aimed at users with different proclivities and by turning tablets into productivity devices that can also create content (perhaps the iPad's biggest weakness).

Whether the ASUS strategy succeeds or not will depend heavily on whether Microsoft Windows 7 and Google Android can successfully adapt their software for multi-touch tablets in the months ahead. Android still has big questions to answer and Windows 7 may simply be too heavy and battery hungry for tablets. Nevertheless, I like that ASUS isn't just playing "me, too" in the tablet market and actually has a viable strategy that targets some of the iPad's genuine weak spots.

ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih shows off one of the four new ASUS tablets at the company's CES 2011 press conference. Photo credit: Jason Hiner | TechRepublic

Why ASUS?

The fact that the rising computer maker spent 75% of its biggest press conference of the year talking about iPad competitors speaks volumes. Four years ago at CES 2008, the newly-launched ASUS Eee PC -- a 7-inch netbook -- was one of the buzz products of the show and its surprising sales essentially launched the netbook phenomenon.

The Eee PC launched ASUS into mainstream consciousness and the company has since expanded nicely into laptops and desktops of all sizes and shown that it is one of the few PC makers that really cares about product design. In the ecosystem of Windows PCs, I'd rank ASUS with Sony as the two companies that consistently produce the most attractive designs, and ASUS does it without the big price premium that you pay for with Sony and Apple.

ASUS clearly watches a lot of what Apple does -- Apple's name came up at least half a dozen times in its press conference -- and has decided that the iPad is a serious threat to its laptop business, otherwise it would not have dedicated so much of its resources and marketing to its new tablets.

Here is a quick summary of the four ASUS tablets:

Eee Pad MeMo

The MeMo is a 7-inch Android 3.0 tablet that will compete with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the plethora of other 7-inch Android tablets about to hit the market, as well as the BlackBerry PlayBook. This is definitely aimed at media consumption with a Micro HDMI port and 1080p video playback. It has a capacitive touch-screen and includes a stylus for note-taking, so it also has the productivity element in mind.

Eee Slate EP121

The EP121 is the one Windows tablet in the ASUS lineup. This is a 12-inch tablet running the same Intel Core i5 processor that runs a lot of powerful desktops and laptops. It offers 1280x800 screen resolution, two USB ports, a 32GB or 64GB SSD hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a 2 megapixel camera. It has both multi-touch and pen input. In the demo, ASUS was watching a full 1080p video while editing a picture in Photoshop and this thing didn't flinch. Battery life could be an issue though.

Eee Pad Transformer

Here's a slim 10-inch tablet that will compete more directly with the iPad. It features the dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and will run Android 3.0. It has a 5 megapixel camera on the back and a 1.2 megapixel camera on the front. The Transformer also offers an optional keyboard dock (see below) that essentially turns it into a laptop. The dock has has added battery capacity that can extend the battery life of this tablet up to 16 hours. I consider this the most interesting of the ASUS tablets and the one with the greatest potential, if Google gets the Android tablet software right.

Eee Pad Slider

The Slider is very similar to the Transformer. It is a 10-inch Android 3.0 tablet running on an NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and has the same 5.0 and 1.2 megapixel cameras as the Transformer. Instead of a keyboard dock, the slider features a slide-out qwerty keyboard. Again, ASUS is betting on turning the 10-inch tablet into a productivity device so that people don't need to carry both a tablet and laptop, but can do all of their content creation on this device. It will be very interesting to see if Android can cut it as a light laptop OS.

This article was originally published on TechRepublic.

Topics: CXO, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

    They all seem to be interesting devices... but I'm confused as to why the Eee Slate EP121 (Windows) isn't coming out of the gate with a sliding keyboard and/or keyboard dock. It would seem to me that of the two OSes, Windows would be the one more in need of a keyboard. Unless of course it'll be running something other than Windows 7.
    Badgered
    • Handwriting technology

      makes a keyboard not that big of an issue in rehaurds to Windows, though I imagine it'll have an onscreen keyboard as do all the tablets.
      John Zern
      • OSK

        @John Zern

        Comes standard in Windows. The one in Win7 is actually pretty cool to use.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • are these things not just new form factor laptops?

      @Badgered...
      doctorSpoc
  • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

    Can we use a different name than EEE?? It reminds me of the cheap netbooks...
    Hasam1991
  • EEE Pad Transformer

    Will be the future of computers. I wish it ran Windows though and not Android.

    I still don't think Android is enough to topple the iPad.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      But Windows CAN topple the iPad? WTF! Just like all those past Windows tablets that consumers hated for the last ten years? Well, la-dee-da.
      ConstableOdo
  • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

    Seems like the strategy is to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. Are you sure we haven't seen this strategy before?
    dave95.
    • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

      @dave95.
      Agreed, throw everything including the kitchen sink approach.

      The productivity angle has been beaten to death by pundit bloggers and ZDnet posters alike. My favorite remark from the author (Jason Hiner) was the following:
      [I]In the demo, ASUS was watching a full 1080p video while editing a picture in Photoshop and this thing didn?t flinch. Battery life could be an issue though.[/I]

      Oh really? Does anyone expect us to believe that professionals are actually going to use this to run and unaltered version of Photoshop for Windows on a 12 inch screen?
      Besides, all this demo shows is lack of focus for your product.
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
      • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

        @MG537
        My question is how a 1280x800 display can show a 1080p (1920x1080) video.
        BearBrad
  • The Shot Gun Strategy

    Put out so many incarnations of tablets that perhaps...just maybe one will hit a nerve with the consumer.

    "the draconian Apple ecosystem" as Jason puts it, is the holy grail that is missing with every single one of these gadgets. Until the average consumer can have a seamless hassle free experience with one of these then...I don't know...will they sell?
    CowLauncher
    • 1 this is what they are missing..

      @CowLauncher but this is something that needs to be carefully build over many years.. this is what Sony completely missed and why Apple supplanted them in personal media devices.. Sony couldn't get it through their heads that it's now more about the software and total end to end user experience.. and these HW guys are still completely missing it..
      doctorSpoc
      • I totally agree about Sony

        @doctorSpoc they were in such a good position to do something. I think they still are but what a missed opportunity to start early!
        CowLauncher
    • "Hassle free experience"

      @CowLauncher, I assume you have never had to waste an hour removing iTunes from a PC that had become virtually unusable due to Apple's POS software. Nothing that requires iTunes can be called "hassle free".
      itpro_z
      • I do have iTunes on my Windows 7 machine at work

        and I will admit that I don't use it as much as I do on the Mac, but so far I haven't had any issues...it seems fast and responsive. Mind you I am basically running Adobe Suite and Office..plus a few different browsers so it's a pretty clean system.
        CowLauncher
  • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

    The transformer/slider are the ones I find most of interest. Our field engineers could use tablets for most tasks, but do have a requirement for an occasional keyboard onsite.
    Bitstreams
  • CES = Vaporware Expo

    90% of these products will never see the light of day, and "iPad Killer" will be overused more than SonofaSailor at a truck stop gloryhole.
    cyberslammer2
    • Was that really necessary

      @cyberslammer2
      Come on now, I'm no fan of SonofaSailor (nor of you come to think of it) but that was just out of hand obnoxious and disgusting.
      use_what_works_4_U
    • So are you usually his first customer

      or do you wait until later on down the line?
      John Zern
      • RE: CES: Has ASUS discovered the strategy to take down the iPad?

        @John Zern You're the one holding up the line so you would know.
        cyberslammer2