Amazon is doing everything it can to keep its ebook platform relevant, and to help do that, the Web store went and partnered with Asus, who has agreed to pre-install the "Kindle for PC" application on select netbooks and notebooks sold at Amazon.com.
"We are thrilled that customers will begin to enjoy the Kindle for PC experience right out of the box with ASUS devices," said Ben Thacker, VP Sales and Product Management, Systems Business Group, North American Channel, ASUS Computer International. "Kindle is something our customers have been asking for and by pre-installing Kindle for PC on select long battery life products, we believe we are providing our customers an even richer PC experience. Working with a customer-centric company such as Amazon and pre-installing their Kindle for PC application is a natural fit for ASUS."
The move also helps Amazon stave off what's sure to be increasing competition by a handheld tablet market on the verge of exploding. Apple's iPad is just the first of what's expected to be many tablet releases this year, and as the iPad has shown, tablets are up to the task in performing ebook chores.
So far there are six Asus netbooks/notebooks sporting the Kindle app, including the 1005PE-MU27-BK, 1005PE-MU27-BU, 1005PE-MU27-WT, 1005PE-MU27-PI, UL30A-X5K, and UL30VT-X1K.
Over in the UK, Asus has launched its new Eee Top PC ET2010 series, an all-in-one PC with a 20-inch multitouch screen and super-slim 1-inch profile.
"The Asus Eee Top ET2010 delivers a rich multimedia and entertainment experience thanks to Nvidia Ion graphics. Whether you're watching HD videos online, tagging and sharing family photos, or playing your favorite PC games, this system will do it all in style," said David Ragones, Director of ION and GeForce Product Marketing at Nvidia.
Asus claims its touchscreen panel is "far more sensitive" than other screens on the market (such as resistive and capacitive), resulting in more accurate input while poking around with your fingertips. The latest all-in-one ships with an Intel Atom dual-core D510 processor (1.66GHz), 2GB of DDR3-1066 memory, 500GB SATA II hard drive, Nvidia ION2010 graphics, tray-load DVD burner, 1.3MP webcam, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Windows 7 Home Premium.
This one's been a long while coming, but as of today, Asus is now shipping its Eee PC Seashell 1005PR netbook that was first shown off during CeBIT earlier this year.
Not much has changed since the last time Asus talked up its 1005PR. The 10.1-inch netbook still sports an Intel Atom N450 processor, 250GB hard drive, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, three USB ports, a 0.3MP webcam, and an embedded HD Decoder Broadcom BCM 70015 chip.
"Broadcom's latest Crystal HD technology puts HD multimedia in the hands of netbook users allowing them to access their favorite content anywhere at any time," said Dan Eiref, Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom’s Consumer Electronics line of business. "The Broadcom Crystal HD solution brings a unique value to ASUS netbooks, providing a new level of performance and power consumption at a market leading price point."
Say what you will about the initial success of Apple's iPad and what it means for the future of handheld tablets, just don't try to convince Asus that netbooks are yesterday's news. On the contrary, Asus thinks netbooks will continue to be the more popular device.
"The tablet PC is a cloud computing device," said Jerry Shen, CEO of Asus. "It if weren't for Apple, this market would develop a lot more slowly."
Because tablets and netbooks serve two different markets, Shen isn't too worried about one overshadowing the other. Moreover, Asus plans to participate in both markets and will launch its own Eee Pad tablet at the Computex Taipei 2010 electronics trade show in early June. According to Shen, "The first phase will use Microsoft software."
Asus is predicting a big year for mobile computing in general. The company sold 2.5 million laptops in teh first quarter and expects shipments will rise as much as 10 percent in the second quarter. In addition, Asus shipped 1.6 million Eee PC netbooks and expects this will rise by 5 percent in the second quarter.
If you trace the roots of the Asus EeeKeyboard all the way back to CES 2009, and the convoluted trail of announcements and redesigns that followed, you probably suspected this would turn out to be little more than Vaporware. We had our doubts as well, but Asus has proved us wrong by actually launching the long awaiting keyboard PC, and the final product actually appears to be somewhat compelling.
The all-in-one EeeKeyboard PC features an Intel Atom N270 processor, an integrated 480x800 capacitive touchscreen, and built in speakers along with Windows XP on a 16 or 32GB SSD. Best of all users can choose to use either the built in display, connect to an external monitor via (HDMI/VGA), or wirelessly stream to a TV using Ultra-Wideband (UWB) that carries both the audio and video. We haven't had a chance to benchmark one or put it through the paces just yet, but it looks like a pretty interesting new form factor for PC users with very basic needs, or for the burgeoning HTPC market.
The UWB is by far the most interesting feature, but the fact that it is limited to 720p with a 5-meter range definitely restricts some of its usefulness. This is either a limitation of the UWB implementation, or the Intel Integrated graphics. Future implementations will hopefully add in an Nvidia ION, and maybe even boost the 4 hours of battery life a touch, but overall this looks like a pretty decent first attempt.
Click the jump to checkout a video of the EeeKeyboard in action, or to let us know what you think of the new form factor.
Perhaps Asus never got the memo that nobody really cares about sub-10 inch netbooks anymore, or that Intel has come out with this thing called Pine Trail. More than likely, however, the vendor is just looking to clear out old inventory with a new model number, the Eee PC 900AX.
This blast to the past sports an 8.9-inch display with a 1024x600 pixel resolution. It comes equipped with a 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, which isn't even the fastest of Intel's last-gen Atom parts. Other bits of nostalgia include 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, 0.3MB webcam, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi (no Wireless-n), and Windows XP Home.
Making a compromise between the 3-cell batteries that are still commonplace and the more desirable 6-cell units, Asus is equipping its Eee PC 900AX with a 4-cell battery, which the company claims is good enough for up 4 hours of usage.
Things are looking a little brighter for Asus, and according to company president Joe Hsieh, motherboard shipment growth for the second quarter is no longer expected to decline quite as sharply as previously thought. Asus had originally predicted a 10-15 percent sequential drop in motherboard shipments, but has now adjusted its outlook to a 5-8 percent decline.
The reason for the revised outlook is strong demand in China. Asus claims a 30 percent share in China's motherboard business, and according to Hsieh, continued strong demand will help the company ship more boards in the coming months.
On the consumer side, don't be surprised if motherboard prices start to rise. Raw material prices are getting more expensive, prompting Hsieh and Co. to evaluate charging more for motherboards, while other mobo makers are in the same situation.
The tablet wars are going to heat up this summer, and Asus will be right there on the battlefield going up against Apple, HP, and everyone else pushing for a 2010 release. For Asus, July is the month to mark on the calendar, which is when the company will release its Eee Pad tablet, according to company chairman Jerry Shih.
Now that the whole world knows what Apple's iPad brings to the fight, Asus has been busy equipping its Eee Pad with a few weapons the company hopes will give it a clear advantage. Chief among them is Nvidia's Tegra 2 chipset, which should open the door to some impressive 3D graphics and gaming.
Asus is also working with Google to weave its Android platform into the Eee Pad. The benefit here is users will have access to an ever-increasing marketplace, which will prove critical in going up against the iPad. The Eee Pad will also include at least one USB port, an integrated webcam, and Adobe Flash support, Shih noted.
No word yet on how much it will cost, but early estimates put the price tag at around $480 to $510 when bundled with telecom carrier services.
Asus wants you to feel good about yourself so they went and released the Bravo220 "home entertainment PC card." So what's there to feel good about? For one, the card's 21 percent more power efficient than competing models, so you can look Mother Nature in th eye without that twinge of guilt. And secondly, by investing in the Bravo220 you're making a statement to yourself that you're not going to spend every waking moment playing videogames - that isn't what this card was built for.
As you probably surmised, the Bravo220 is built around Nvidia's GT220 architecture. The GPU comes clocked at 525MHz and there's a 1GB frame buffer chugging along at 400MHz (800MHz effective) on a 128-bit bus. It's HDCP compliant, supports resolutions up to 2560x1600, and has DVI-I, D-Sub, and HDMI ports. So before you ask, no, it's not going to run Crysis, not with the eye candy cranked up anyway, but it will fit right in with your home theater setup.
Towards that end, Asus developed a special Bravo Media Center interface they say is intuitive, and it comes with a remote control to boot. The cooling solution is passive, so there's no fan to distract you from those quiet scenes, and Asus says their Splendid Plus technology will reduce noise and artifacts while improving conversion rates.
What Asus didn't say is when it will ship and for how much.
Been out of the motherboard loop for awhile? Even if you haven't, be prepared to learn some new terminology. In a bid to increase market share and separate themselves from the competition, motherboard makers have upped the marketing ante with new or revised terms.
Asus, for example, is touting support for IEEE 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet on a bunch of its new boards. According to Asus, the standard can bump up energy savings to the tune of 81.3 percent just by reducing power delivery when there's no or low network activity.
Gigabyte, meanwhile, has begun advertising its USB Power feature, which the company claims delivers more power to its USB ports, enough to charge Apple's iPad.
And then there's MSI, who recently released a pretty big Hydra driver update for its Big Bang Fuzion motherboard and has been advertising Quantum Wave audio technology and other marketing bullets.