Asus has finally announced its competitor to the Apple iPad, the Asus Eee Pad (yes, they went there). Taking bucket loads of style influence from the fruity Californians, the flagship EP121 Eee Pad will house a 12in screen and has a dual-core CULV Intel CPU whirring away under its hood. It will also run Windows 7 and support Adobe Flash so immediately trumps the iPad in the productivity stakes. Moreover, with connections for USB and HDMI and an SD slot, the Eee Pad will be much more versatile as well.
As well as these normal connections, there's also a dock connection, though unlike the iPad it's on the 'long' edge so it will be in landscape format when docked. The dock itself will be available in two versions: desktop and notebook, a concept that Asus calls 'multi-mode'. The premise is rather neat. The desktop version provides a seperate keyboard and a simple stand for the screen to sit in while the notebook version integrates the keyboard with a stand that you can then fold shut for easily carting around.
Sadly, the pre-Computex press conference where Asus was showing this wonderous device off was only home to a mock-up version so hands-on judgement will have to wait until later this week (if we're lucky) or in a few weeks when the final products will be closer to launch. What we can tell you is it has a brushed aluminium edge but only a textured pearlescent plastic back. Pricing is yet to be revealed but you can expect these to start arriving in shops within the next few months.
Also unveiled was the EP101TC, which is a device of similar concept but it uses a smaller 10in screen and runs only Windows Embedded Compact 7 with a custom interface slapped over the top of it. This there was a working sample of but sadly it obviously wasn't entirely free of bugs so the interface regularly crashed dumping us back into a hideous Windows XP style desktop. The custom screens, though, are impressive with a fine balance of flashiness and basic practicality. Again, we hope to get a fuller picture when the Computex trade show proper opens tomorrow. We do, however, have a vague idea of pricing, with $399 to $499 being bandied about, and availability, which should be within the next couple of months.