updated 07:50 am EDT, Fri March 25, 2011
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer goes live
ASUS on Friday began shipping the Eee Pad Transformer as its first real entry into the mobile tablet space. The Android 3.0 tablet earns its name through a keyboard dock that gives it a more notebook-like design. It both works as a true clamshell design and also extends the battery life from 9.5 hours for the tablet by itself to 16 hours with the two attached.
Unlike some of its peers, the Transformer's 10.1-inch, 1280x800 display uses an IPS panel to give a more iPad-like level of output. ASUS also has its own custom interface, Waveshare, with a custom app launcher and quick access to cloud services. It already supports Flash 10.2.
Most of the common roots of Android 3.0 tablets are intact, including the dual-core Tegra 2 processor. ASUS outfits its tablet with 1GB of RAM, either 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, a five-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front camera. The familiar cloud storage is translated over from the Eee PC line, and the company's notebook roots come through its use of two full USB ports and an SD card reader on the dock, as well as a microSDHC reader and a mini HDMI output on the tablet.
ASUS hasn't officially priced out the device but is expected to charge the equivalent of $565 in Europe for a 16GB version.
Much may be riding on the Transformer as ASUS has been one of the most frequently hurt by the iPad's effect. Its heavy dependence on netbooks has has hurt now that the category has been declining. The company is still planning to make conventional PCs but may now be deliberately avoiding the tablet category.