Asus held a pre-CES press conference at the Aria convention centre in Las Vegas today (Tuesday) to unveil four tablet computers, as well as TUF (The Ultimate Force) motherboards "designed to withstand rugged environments" -- they come with a 5-year warranty. Actually, we should probably say that Asus unveiled three new tablets (running Android) and one new slate (running Microsoft Windows).
The tablets start with the Eee Pad MeMO, which has a 7-inch capacitive screen and runs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) on a Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processor. Asus is bundling it with a stylus for taking handwritten notes.
The Eee Pad Transformer and Eee Pad Slider have 10.1-inch touchscreens and run Android 3 on Nvidia Tegra 2 chips. The Transformer tablet slots into a keyboard dock for serious typing, and it also extends the battery life for a total of "up to 16 hours". The Slider has a sliding keyboard, which makes for a more mobile option. Check the video below to see the sliding action.
Unlike the Apple iPad, both the Transformer and Slider have front (1.2MP) and rear (5MP) facing cameras for taking photos and video chats. The Transformer's dock also has built-in mini-HDMI port so you can play HD movies to a separate screen or TV set.
The Slider looks very cool and it's extremely thin, so it's probably the one most likely to sell. How good it will prove in real life use is another question, of course, but it certainly gets decent marks for both innovation and style.
Finally, there's the Eee Slate EP121, which has a 12.1-inch multi-touch screen, and runs Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium on an Intel Core i5 with up to 4GB of memory and a 32GB or 64GB SSD drive. Other features include a 2-megapixel camera, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and two USB 2.0 ports.
Asus claims the EP121 is "the most powerful tablet ever introduced", though of course it has its roots in the Windows XP Tablet PC that Microsoft promoted when it had tablet fever about a decade ago. The Slate EP121 runs proper business software, works with a Wacom Digitizer pen, and also comes with a Bluetooth keyboard.
Asus showed some US dates and expected prices. The Slate will be available this month at $999-$1,099, with the price being bumped up by the SSD drive. The Transformer should be out in April at $399-$699, with the Slider following in May at $499-$799. Surprisingly, if you want a 7-inch MeMo, priced at $499-$699 you'll have to wait until June. There's no news of UK availability or prices.
New Android Tablets from ASUS