Is the upcoming battle of the tablets this year already over? Has Apple's iPad 2 killed off the opposition or is there a chink in Apple's armour?
The other day I walked round to the UK product launch of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the first device running the Android "HoneyComb" 3.0 operating system.
The main feature Asus is trying to push as an iPad 2 killer is that the screen is detachable from the keyboard, converting your traditional notebook device into a tablet – that's the 'Transformer' part of the Asus device [see picture].
For the tablet piece of the device, there's front (1.2 megapixel) and rear-facing (5 megapixel) cameras, and a micro SD card reader (praise the lord!), and mini-HDMI port as standard (i.e. no accessories to buy). The 24.4Wh Lithium polymer battery also gives users 9.5 hours uptime.
For the keyboard part of the Transformer, the docking bay if you will, there's a couple of USB 2.0 ports, and another (full-size) SD card reader [see picture].
The docking bay also has another 24.4Wh Lithium polymer battery, which Asus claims gives the fully docked tablet up to 16 hours of battery life.
The Eee Pad Transformer will be running the Android 3.0 operating system (codenamed HoneyComb) [see picture].
There'll be native Adobe Flash 10.2 support, with an nVidia Tegra 2 dual core processor taking care of the graphics.
There'll also be an office productivity suite pre-installed on the Transformer which I was told at the event will support Office 97-2007 documents.
Having just finished looking at an iPad 2, which funnily enough also costs £379 (but was running on Vodafone's 3G network) it will be interesting to see how this fares when it finally becomes generally available on Wednesday.
You'll only be able to buy a Wi-Fi version of the Transformer though, the 3G version will be available later on.
If I was in the market for a tablet, I'd be looking seriously at an Eee Pad Transformer.
But where is Microsoft in this market I hear you ask?
Well, Redmond's global chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie said last week that he didn't know whether tablets would "remain with us or not."
If they do remain Microsoft could be in trouble because it may well have to fast track its tablet, or get left far behind.
Dave Bailey, reviews editor, Computing
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