Asus has announced UK shipping dates for its first two tablet PCs. The Windows 7-based Eee Slate EP121 will go onsale in the UK from 10 April while the Android Honeycomb-based Eee Pad Transformer will debut on 6 April.
The 12.1in Windows 7 tablet will command a hefty price tag of £999, but the Google Android Eee Pad Transformer will cost a little over a third of that at £379. This makes the 16GB tablet marginally cheaper than the equivalent specification Apple iPad 2. The Wi-Fi version of the Apple iPad 2 comes in at £399. Asus will offer a 32GB version of the Eee Pad Transformer for £429, compared to the £499 cost of Apple's 32GB tablet. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously criticised other tablet manufacturers for their inability to match the aggressive pricing of the iPad and iPad 2.
The Eee Slate is a touchscreen-only device, while the Transformer can also be used with a keyboard. A dock at the rear of the Android tablet provides a connector for the main unit. Despite the name of the 10.1in tablet, however, the docking keyboard is actually an optional extra. The 16GB version of the device can be bought with a bundled keyboard and power pack for £429. The device has a 5Mp main camera and a 1.2Mp webcam for video chat. An SD Card slot is provided so the user can boost the onboard flash memory, but Asus also offers 'limitless' cloud storage via its WebStorage portal.
The screen is a 1280x800-pixel Gorilla Glass IPS (in-plane switching) display - the same toughened glass as is found on the Dell Streak tablet and, allegedly, the Apple iPhone. Bluetooth and HDMI connectivity are also included. The Transformer tablet weighs 680 grammes.
The rather oversized 12.1in-screen Asus Eee Slate EP121, meanwhile, is more of a traditional workaday tablet along similar lines to the Windows XP Tablets that have been around for years. A 'pure' slate, it has a digitiser pen as an alternative to finger-based input using the multi-touch capacitive screen. The Slate runs Windows 7 off a 1.33GHz Core i5 processor and has 4GB of RAM. To keep down the already considerable bulk, Asus fits a 64GB SSD drive to handle storage duties. The £999 tablet also comes with a Bluetooth keyboard.
Asus will start selling both tablets in the UK from next week. Yesterday Motorola made a similar announcement about its Xoom tablet which also runs the Google Android Honeycomb tablet OS. Apple this week confirmed availability issues with its iPad 2 tablet, which only went onsale in the UK last Friday. Rather than walking away with an iPad 2 on the day, customers are now expected to wait three or four weeks for their tablets to ship.