We’re expecting tablets to be a dime a dozen at CES this year, and Taiwanese computer manufacturer Asus hasn’t exactly been shy about teasing its tablet wares over the past year. Now we know exactly what sort of tablets Asus has up its sleeve — and surprisingly, they look unlike anything we’ve seen so far.
First up are two 10.1-inch Android tablets centered around physical keyboards (of all things): The Eee Pad Slider and Eee Pad Transformer. The Slider lives up to its name by offering sliding access to its keyboard, similar to the slide-out functionality in some cellphones. The Transformer, on the other hand, comes with a keyboard dock — so you can choose when you need to lug around a keyboard..
Both tablets will run Android 3.0 (the fabled “Honeycomb” version built with tablets in mind), are powered by Nvidia’s dual-core Tegra 2 processor, and feature front and rear-facing cameras. They’ll also both feature high-quality IPS LCD display panels (which are known to offer better color range than traditional LCDs) running at a 1200 by 800 resolution. The Transformer’s dock also packs in a battery of its own, allowing you to run the tablet for 16 hours when both device’s batteries are fully charged. On its own the Transformer tablet should get around 8 hours of battery life (and we assume a similar amount for the Slider).
Asus also showed off the Eee Pad MeMo, which appears to be an Android spin on Microsoft’s Courier note-taking tablet. It’s a 7-inch tablet that differentiates itself with a capacitive stylus for easy handwritten note taking. Asus demonstrated two apps that take advantage of the stylus — Media Note, a simple note taking program, and Painter, which lets you use the stylus to paint and draw with pressure sensitivity. The company also boasted about the MeMo’s phone capabilities — it apparently can take calls with a stereo Bluetooth headset called the “MeMic.”
Finally, there’s the dark horse of Asus’s tablet plans. For the past year, the company has hinted at a powerful 12-inch tablet running Windows 7, dubbed the Eee Slate EP121. It’s certainly got a lot of horsepower with its Intel Core i5 processor, support for 2 to 4 gigabytes of RAM, and 64 gigabyte solid state drive (SSD). The EP 121 also features a 12.1-inch screen — and like the MeMo, it packs a stylus for easy note taking.
Variety and innovation is certainly one cure to the onslaught of similar-looking tablets we’re expecting at CES. I suppose it isn’t surprising then that the company that jump-started the netbook craze has some cool ideas for tablets.
Pricing and availability for the tablets are still up in the air. Asus expects the Slider to retail between $500 to $800, and for it will be available in May. The Transformer will go between $400 and $700 and will land in June. The MeMo is expected to also land in June for around $499, while the powerful EP121 will retail for around $1,000 and will be available later this month.