At CeBIT 2011 in Taiwan yesterday Asus launched their new 10.1 inch Eee Pad tablet with an optional keyboard that can be connected to the device turning it into a fully fledged Android powered Netbook. The keyboard is full size, offering chicklet keys and an all-in-one trackpad. When attached to the Eee Pad typing obviously becomes much easier than using the multi-touch display but what makes it even more enticing is the additional battery power locked inside the keyboard itself. When detached, the Eee Pad offers about 9 hours of runtime on its own, when connected to the keyboard the battery life is increased to 16 hours. The keyboard costs just can extra $100, the Eee Pad starts from $500.

The 10.1 inch tablet features a display resolution of 1280 x 800 IPS Gorilla Glass with capacitive multi-touch capabilities. It runs Google’s latest Tablet OS Honeycomb and makes use of a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC. Storage options run from 16GB to 64GB with a Micro SD and 1GB of RAM. The device also contains a 1.2MP camera in the front and a rear 5MP camera. The I/O is as comprehensive as one would expect from an Android Tablet, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth, HDMI out with USB 2, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, GPS and compass.

What I’ve found most interesting about watching the current tablet phenomena unfold before our eyes is the impact these devices are having on Netbooks. Just 18 months to 2 years ago Netbooks were fast cannibalizing Notebook sales as consumers desired lighter more ultraportable PC devices. Now Tablet’s have usurped Netbooks and offer a more viable and functional alternative to Netbooks and in some rare cases, Notebooks also. Although most people still agree that Notebooks and traditional laptops are still the best mobile productivity devices. Nevertheless it’s worth noting that Asus effectively began the Netbook craze in late 2007 with the Eee PC where their low cost and super cheap approach paid dividends and now 4 years later their first Tablet is pitched as a convertible Netbook. It appears that in spite of the industries mass migration to the Tablet form factor, Asus are not yet ready to entirely give up on the concept of a mini Notebook device.

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