Asus is one of the few manufacturers who have been able to carve itself a niche in the Android tablet market, but the company isn't about to rest on its laurels following the successes of the Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime. Two new Transformer products -- one high end, one low end -- were unveiled today at the Mobile World Conference, the smartphone/tablet/notebook hybrid called the PadFone got hard specs and a release date, and if that wasn't enough, Asus dropped the "Eee" and started calling its tablets plain ol' "Transformer Pad."
You have to give Asus props; the company definitely doesn't leave their customers hanging after releasing a product. Its engineers have been busy little beavers in recent weeks, releasing both an Ice Cream Sandwich update and a bootloader unlocking tool for the Tegra 3-packing Transformer Prime, but don't let the focus on the new and shiny tablet fool you -- buyers of the original Eee Pad Transformer aren't being left behind. In fact, owners of Wi-Fi Transformers started getting fresh over-the-air ICS updates of their own today.
It's looking as though tablets will pick up the slack left by less than expected Ultrabook sales, at least for Asus. Asus, along with Acer, figure they'll each move as little as a third of the number of Ultrabooks by the end of the year as they initially hoped, which is the result of prices simply being too high. But as far as tablets go, Asus expects to reach its goal of 1.8 million units in 2011.
Amazon set the tablet world ablaze by pricing its Kindle Fire at just $199, and it took all of two nanoseconds for Research In Motion to react by making sure its sales partners marked its BlackBerry PlayBook down. The pressure is on for competing tablet makers to slash prices or risk losing ground to Amazon. Will Asus be next? Don't hold your breath.
For a short while on Thursday, Best Buy listed Asus' upcoming Eee Pad Transformer on its website, saying that the tablet was "coming soon." Even better, Best Buy listed the price at a penny shy of $400, which many would consider a steal. Could this be the reason Best Buy pulled the listing, or will the Eee Pad Transformer really sell for less than a fist full of Benjamins?
Asus is calling its new Eee Pad Transformer "an innovative tablet with an expandable keyboard dock," but could this also be the netbook evolved? A physical keyboard isn't something that comes with any other major tablet, however it sits front and center on the Eee Pad Transformer, when you want it to. When you don't, simply detach the head and you're rocking a portable tablet PC with up to 9.5 hours of battery life (up to 16 hours with the dock).