Eee Pad Transformer
Perhaps the most interesting of Asus' new Android based tablets is the Eee Pad Transformer, as it is specifically designed to go from laptop to tablet and back again. Specs are similar to the Eee Pad Slider: 10.1 inch IPS display with a resolution of 1280 by 800, Tegra 2 processor with 512MB or 1GB of RAM, Android 3.0 operating system, 1.2 megapixel front camera and 5 megapixel rear camera, with similar ports and plugs. Instead of a slide-out keyboard, the Transformer has a separate detachable keyboard deck that houses extra USB ports and a card reader along with another battery, doubling the tablet's estimated battery life from 8 hours to 16. When in this docking keyboard deck, the screen folds down like a typical laptop. Also, note the clickpad on the docking station.
Eee Slate EP121
Not to leave Microsoft out in the cold, Asus has a Slate to go along with its tablets: the Eee Slate EP121. Targeting a blend of entertainment and enterprise business use, the EP121 features a 12.1 inch screen with a 1280 by 800 resolution and a nifty twist: this IPS panel is both capacitive multi-touch and support for a Wacom electromagnetic digitizer pen. The unit is powered by an Intel Core i5 470UM ultra low-voltage processor and comes equipped with Windows 7 Home Premium, up to 4GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD for storage. It comes with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera for online video chat. Of course, it's considerably thicker and heavier than the Android-based tablets at 0.66 inches thick and just over 2.5 pounds. Asus says the Eee Slate EP121 go on preorder immediately with shipments early in the first quarter, with prices starting at $999 for the version with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The version with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD should list for only $100 more, which seems like the obvious better choice.
Pricing and availability are not yet known for the Android tablets, perhaps because nobody knows exactly when Google is going to put the wraps on Android 3.0. All these Android devices with keyboards, and in some cases pointing devices, poses an interesting question: is Google doing something more with Android 3.0 than we anticipate? Will it have more built-in functions that duplicate those found in typical laptops? Or is Google simply banking on the idea that, as screen sizes scale up beyond the smartphone, the need for frictionless text input increases?
Be sure to check out or CES 2011 page for more news and video from the show.