Leaked photographs of the new Asus tablet hint at the possible inclusion of cellular connectivity
Asus has attempted to kick start excitement about its new tablet device slated to launch at the Computex show in Taiwan, which runs 31 May to 4 June.
Teaser images of the device’s rounded edges and slicker lines have been leaked at Tech In Style, and a more mystical-looking than mystery-building Facebook fan page asks, “Break The Rules: Pad or Phone?” suggesting that that Asus may go the Dell Streak route and include cellular connectivity in the tablet.
It appears that the Asus tablet will also be available in several colour options, with at least blue-and-silver and bronze-and-silver options apparent in the photos.
However, a sexy, iPad-challenging design isn’t Asus’ only plan for digging deeper into the tablet market. Like it did with netbooks, it’s shooting for the lower extreme of the price-point spectrum, with a new, lowered starting price for its Eee Transformer tablet that puts it $100 (£62) below the iPad’s starting price.
“Asustek began to market its 10.1-inch Eee Pad Transformer in the US in May with the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only model priced at [$400] which equals roughly NT$11,500 compared to a price of NT$14,900 set in April when the device was initially launched in Taiwan,” Taipei-based DigiTimes reported 23 May.
On 25 March, Asus unveiled the Transformer, a convertible tablet with an optional keyboard-based docking station and Google’s Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system. The rumour mill is putting its expected price point between $499 (£309) and $699 (£433), with the cost likely to rise with the inclusion of the dock. Best Buy, however, now offers the Transformer for $400 (£248) – a move already forcing at least one Asus competitor to rethink its pricing on comparable models, according to DigiTimes.
“Facing price competition from Asustek, Acer reportedly is reviewing its pricing for comparable models sold in the US market,” the report stated, citing unnamed sources and noting that Acer’s current price for its 10.1-inch 16GB Iconia Tab is $450 (£279). “Prices for Android 3.1-based tablet PCs to be launched by other vendors in the second half of the year may also be affected with ASPs of Android 3.1 models likely to be dragged down by [$100].”
It added that, again according to sources, Asus expects to ship 2 million tablets this year, with the Eee Pad Transformer accounting for half of those.
In January at the Consumer Electronics Event, Asus introduced four tablets, only two of which – the Transformer and the Eee Pad – have so far come to market. The Eee Pad Slider and Eee Pad MeMo have yet to launch.
The Dell Streak is one of few (and early) tablet models to offer cellular connectivity, straddling the line between smartphone and tablet. That straddling, however, got it into trouble, with critics saying it was too large to replace a phone but too small to offer a satisfying tablet experience. Later this year, Research In Motion is also expected to release a version of its BlackBerry PlayBook with cellular connectivity.