As promised, Taiwan’s Asustek has brought its Eee Pad Transformer to U.S. consumers by April by launching the device at electronics retailer Best Buy for a starting price of $399.99. The availability of the Eee Pad Transformer not only increases the number of Android tablet devices on the market running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb,” but also hits a very important price point: it undercuts the Apple iPad 2.
The Eee Pad Transformer features a 10.1-inch display with a 1,280 by 800-pixel resolution—so it has more pixels than an iPad, too—and is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and 1 GB of LPDDR2 memory. Rather than relying on flash storage, the Eee Pad Transformer carriers a 16 GB hard drive—but the device still measures just half and inch thick, although it weighs a rather un-svelte 2.2 pounds. The Eee Pad Transformer features a 1.2 megapixel webcam with mic, a 4-in-1 media card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless networking, and is available in brown or black.
Of course, the Transformer’s claim to fame is that it can dock with an optional keyboard—and that keyboard contains a whole separate battery system, so the combined devices can run 16 hours rather than the 8 hours users can expect from the tablet alone. The keyboard is optional—and Best Buy doesn’t seem to have it in stock yet—but even with the keyboard dock the Eee Pad might give an iPad-and-keyboard combination some serious price competition.
Asus is also launching the Eee Pad Transformer in France and the United Kingdom. In the UK, the 16 GB edition will apparently sell for £379, with a 32 GB edition selling for £50 more, with keyboard docking stations going for another £50. In France, the 16 GB version will apparently be priced at €399, but won’t be available until May.
[Update 31-Mar-2011: Best Buy has removed the listing for the Eee Pad Transformer from its site, suggesting its presence may have been an error…or at least jumping the gun. Most industry watchers expect the Eee Pad Transformer's U.S. pricing to fall into line with announced pricing in the UK and Europe: somewhere around the $550 mark, without the optional keyboard.]