Add Asus to the list of PC makers expected to introduce media tablets at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off Jan. 5.
Also known as Asustek Computer, the company that started the netbook craze is expected to introduce at least one tablet with a detachable keyboard and one with a sliding keyboard, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported. The devices will reportedly both feature 10-inch displays and run Google's Android 2.4 operating system-or "Honeycomb"-which is said to have features especially complementary to tablets.
Slashgear, citing a video it believes Asus had posted but then pulled, says the company appears to have four models in the works-the EeePa EP71, EP101, EP102 and EP121. The video features Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, discussing the tablets before a chalkboard with renderings of the devices. The EP101 is apparently the tablet with the detachable, dockable keyboard, while the EP102 has the slide-out keyboard.
The Eee Pad 121 is the 12-inch Windows 7 tablet that the company hinted at just before Christmas. According to Slashgear, it features a 12-inch display, an Intel Core i5 processor and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) and USB connectivity. (News of this tablet first broke during the summer, and the original plans called for a Core 2 Duo ULV (ultra-low-voltage) chip.)
The least is known about the final tablet, the Eee Pad EP71, beyond that it will run Android and have a 7-inch notepad-style form factor, reports Slashgear.
The fast-growing tablet space is filling with competitors well acquainted from the PC market. Toshiba is also expected to introduce an Android 2.4-running tablet with a 10-inch display at the show. In the PC market, Asus beat out Toshiba during the third quarter of 2010, claiming the last seat in the Top 5 and pushing Toshiba to sixth position.
Hewlett-Packard and Dell, other PC competitors, are also joining the space, and smartphone maker Research In Motion is also reportedly fine-tuning an offering, the PlayBook. Even leading television maker Vizio is getting in on the act.
On Jan. 3, in anticipation of the show and following a television advertisement that debuted during the Rose Bowl Jan.1, Vizio introduce an 8-inch tablet, the Via Tablet, and a smartphone, the Via Phone, with a 4-inch display. Both will run the Android operating system. While an unlikely dark horse, the company expects to shake up the market by offering price points meant to appeal to shoppers at Wal-Mart and Costco.
All this is just the beginning. There's an E for everyone, Shih says in the video. Asus officials will be speaking at a press conference at 2 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas.