Asus has unveiled a tablet and an e-reader device at Computex 2010 in Taiwan, in a move designed to give Apple's iPad a run for its money.
The Asus Eee Pad will be available in 10in and 12in screen sizes. The 12in tablet will be powered by a Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Windows 7 Home Premium, and the 10in version will run Windows Embedded Compact 7.
Ovum analyst Tim Renowden said he is not surprised that Asus has entered the tablet market, but added that the Taiwanese manufacturer has a challenge on its hands given that Windows-powered tablets have traditionally failed to take much market share.
"The main issues are price, battery life, weight and typically poor translation of the Windows user interface [and Windows applications] to a touch screen," he said.
"Apple and others seem to be settling on smartphone operating systems such as the iPad's modified iPhone OS, Android or HP's plans with webOS. These are designed with touch interfaces in mind, and optimised to run on ARM-based hardware that uses power more efficiently."
However, Renowden acknowledged that using Windows 7 gives the Eee Pad the compatibility factor that could outmuscle its rivals.
The 8in Asus Eee Tablet, meanwhile, could accommodate business needs as it is being marketed as a combined notepad and e-reader. The note-taking function will "give users the feeling of writing on paper", according to Asus.
The Eee Tablet features a claimed 10-hour battery life, 2-megapixel camera, wireless internet and a specially made stylus from Wacom.
Steven Chaing, a project section manager at Asus, stated that the firm will look to add 3G to future versions of the product.
The e-reader market is currently led by the Amazon Kindle, and the success of the Asus e-reader will depend on Asus' relationship with as publishers and retailers, according to Renowden.
"While consumers who purchase a tablet will not have much reason to buy an e-reader, there is a market out there. Some customers are willing to spend £100-£200 on an e-reader that does its job well," he said.
Chaing confirmed that the Eee Tablet will retail at $199 (£135) and will come with 2GB of memory. It is pencilled in for a Q3 2010 launch.
Renowden said that he expects plenty of activity from manufacturers over the coming year as they experiment with form factors and capabilities to determine the most popular combination.
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