At the tail end of last month, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Best Buy listing appeared then disappeared for the Eee Pad Transformer tablet from ASUS. It U.S. release had been set for April, and now the Pad Transformer is here, and completely sold out at any major online retailer you can think of, including Amazon and Best Buy.
There are a couple of factors that make the Pad Transformer particularly noteworthy. The first is the fact that it is now the second tablet on the market that runs the tablet-focused Honeycomb 3.0 update for Android. The other feature that is arguably the most attractive is the device’s price point: you can get one of these puppies — assuming you can find it — for $399.99. With a set of features that rival or trump the iPad — the powerful NVIDIA 1 GHz Tegra 2 processor, twice the amount of RAM, a higher screen resolution, comparable battery life, microSD card slot, added USB ports and an SD card slot with the keyboard dock accessory, Flash support — the Pad Transformer effectively sets a new bar for tablet pricing.
It helps that reviews have been positive overall. Some take issue with the tablet’s design and the lack of a 3G-enabled model. It also seems that the video recording capabilities aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. There’s nothing really classifiable as a deal-breaker however, at least according to reviews.
It’s possible that ASUS simply made limited supplies available for the Pad Transformer’s initial U.S. launch, both to minimize risk and to generate hype by delivering a sellout product. Whatever the case, it’s working. People see headlines about the Pad Transformer selling out, they’ll then read that news and learn that there’s a feature-set here that trumps Apple‘s golden goose. Demand increases and suddenly the iPad has some serious competition to contend with.