Notebook computer and motherboard master ASUS has now officially announced the North American launch date of its challenger for a chunk of the tablet market, the Eee Pad Transformer. The iPad competitor will begin shipping in the US and Canada on Tuesday, April 26. Targeted at users with multimedia and mobile productivity demands, the Eee Pad offers options for recording, accessing and displaying media in SD and HD as well as multitasking capability and features that facilitate social communication.
ASUS’ Eee Pad uses an NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 dual-core processor to power its Android 3.0 operating system. This combination gives access to the broad range of apps designed for Android and is said to offer fast response times and speedy web surfing. As the basis of the user experience, ASUS has included its Waveshare interface. This is designed to make the Transformer’s media playback, social networking and game play features quick and simple to access. Other software that comes pre-bundled with the Transformer includes MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, a file manager and a PC Sync utility. More apps can be downloaded using a WiFi network conforming to WLAN 802.11 b/g/n specifications at 2.4GHz. Bluetooth capability is also included.
The 1280 x 800 resolution 10.1″ in-plane switching LED backlit screen is capable of displaying HD video output at 720p while the built-in SRS Sound technology provides a dynamic 3D stereo audio. Videos shot using the rear-facing 5MP camera can be output to an HDTV via a mini HDMI 1.3A output port (at 1080p, according to ASUS). There’s also a 1.2MP camera on the front that is designed for video conferencing. Other interface options on the tablet include a 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-in) and Micro SD card reader. Also in the specs is optional Adobe® Flash® 10.2 support that can be obtained through an upgrade available online at the Android Market.
Software is weightless, of course, but the means to run it are not. ASUS has squeezed the Eee Pad’s features into a tablet case weighing around 680g with a quoted battery life of 9.5 hours (based on an unspecified ‘specific hardware setup and media playback test’).
Not convinced that it might be time to chuck out your laptop and join the tablet revolution? Well, in an effort to separate the Eee Pad Transformer from its competitors (especially Apple’s recently launched iPad 2), ASUS is marketing the device as a dual tablet/laptop. To transform the device (hence, the name) users can add a keyboard docking station. This comes with a touchpad, two USB ports and a MMC/SD/SDHC card reader for file sharing and storage. It is also said to increase the battery life up to a laptop-obliterating 16 hours.
ASUS is offering the Eee Pad Transformer in 16 GB and 32 GB variants (the TF101-A1 and the TF101-B1). These are priced by ASUS at $399 and $499. In each case, this is $100 less than a WiFi-capable iPad 2 with equivalent storage limits (WiFi + 3G-capable iPad 2s are more expensive). The recommended retail price of the Eee Pad’s keyboard docking station is $149. That’s more than the cheapest iPad keyboards currently being sold in the Apple store but the docking station has wider capabilities.
(Product images are courtesy of ASUS).