Asus Releases Photos, Specs of Tablets, E-Reader

Asus unveils two tablet computers and an e-reader with a look similar to Apple's successful iPad. The tablet devices will run versions of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system and are expected to debut in 2011.

Ahead of the official start of the Computex conference in Taipei, computer maker Asus released photos and limited specifications for two tablet computers that will run on Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. The company also released an e-reader tablet called the Eee Tablet, which features a 2-megapixel camera and a screen with the capability to take notes with a stylus. The device can be synched with a notebook or desktop via a USB connection. Pricing and full technical specifications were not made available, although the technology blog Engadget reported a release date in 2011 and a price range of $399 to $499.
The tablets, the 12-inch Eee Pad EP121 and the 10-inch Eee Pad EP101TC, offer touch screen capability; the EP121 is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and runs Windows 7 Home Premium. The company said the device has a battery life of 10 hours, comparable to Apple's iPad. The EP121 also offers two modes of character input; an embedded virtual keyboard or a hybrid keyboard/docking station design. The EP101TC has a slim form factor designed for easy portability and runs Windows Embedded Compact 7 software.
While the market for tablets had previously been limited, Apple's iPad debut has reinvigorated the market. Earlier in May, Apple announced they had sold one million iPads in a month. The company also noted iPad users had downloaded more than 12 million apps from the App Store and over 1.5 million ebooks from Apple's iBookstore. At present, major PC makers including Apple, Lenovo, HP, Asus, and MSI have all introduced Tablet PC products, and Dell, Acer, and Sony have plans to launch related products this year.
In addition to consumer-centric tablets, computer makers are also focusing on market diversification, with Panasonic announcing plans to introduce the Toughbook H1 Field, a handheld tablet pairing Panasonic toughness with enterprise savvy. At 3.4 pounds, it features a 10.4-inch touch screen, an Atom processor and Qualcomm Gobi2000 technology for flexible connectivity. Certified on the Sprint and Verizon Wireless networks, and offers 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and the option of Qualcomm's Gobi2000 technology, the device is targeting the upper end of the market with an estimated price tag of $3,379.
According to research firm Gartner, worldwide shipment of Tablet PCs will comprise less than one percent of current total PC shipments. But ABI Research indicates that the sale of new-generation tablet PCs will grow 10 times to reach 4 million units this year, and the number will reach 57 million by 2015, representing a boost for the worldwide computer industry.