ASUS Eee Pad Transformer shortage may be due to limited component availability

Asustek Eee Pad TransformerExactly one week ago, gadget fiends went into a frenzy as ASUS made good on the North American release of its Eee Pad Transformer tablet. Stock disappeared almost immediately from every online retailer, including Best Buy and Amazon. The sellout status was due in part to the tablet’s popularity, though later reports suggested that the Taiwanese company only managed to hit half of its intended shipment numbers.

Now there’s word from German website Netbook News (via Engadget) that the supply shortage in the United States may be due to more than an ASUS initiative to drum up hype for its new release. The company is apparently having a tough time getting a hold of the components necessary to build the thing, which limits production capacity to just 10,000 units per month. ASUS had reportedly hoped to start off with a run of 300,000, though now it’s looking like we’ll be waiting until June before the Transformers start popping up in greater numbers.

The new tablet is particularly attractive to consumers for its iPad 2-competitive features and hardware specs at a lower price. The $399 model lines up with the $499 Apple equivalent, with a Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM (twice what’s in the iPad), a higher resolution display, mini HDMI and microSD ports, and front- and rear-facing cameras. What’s more, the Pad Transformer is one of the few tablets on the market that runs Honeycomb, the tablet-focused Android 3.0 update that first made it way into the world on the Motorola Xoom. For an added $150, you can also pick up a special keyboard dock for the Transformer, which boosts the already impressive 10-hour battery life and adds an Android-angled keyboard and trackpad. When docked, the tablet and keyboard can even fold together, essentially turning the Transformer into a convertible netbook.

Unfortunately, if the rumor of a supply shortage is true, hopeful buyers will have to live vicariously through online reviews — or take their business to a more widely available “elsewhere” — for an iPad alternative.