updated 08:10 pm EST, Sat January 7, 2012
ASUS previews Windows 8, sharp Android tablets
ASUS in a presentation in Taiwan confirmed its commitment to Windows 8 tablets while also renewing its efforts in Android. Eee Systems chief Samson Hu mentioned with Netbook News present that there would be an ARM-based tablet using Microsoft's new OS. Partly supporting rumors of a September date, Hu said it would arrive before the end of the year, hinting at a wait for Windows 8 itself.
The executive went on to hint that ASUS would try to get out in front of the iPad 3 with a new 10-inch tablet, just weeks after the Transformer Prime. He described a 10-inch, presumably Android-based tablet with a "high screen resolution." It could be either a new model or an upgrade of the Transformer Prime, neither of which was directly confirmed.
Other tablets were also coming, Hu said. In the nearer term, a 3G-enabled version of the Transformer Prime would arrive in March. The new version would also come with more powerful GPS to make up for the poor reception on the Wi-Fi tablet.
Two unnamed 10-inch tablets were due in the second half of the year, although it's not apparent if these would be sequels to tablets like the Eee Pad Slider or yet more sequels.
ASUS has been one of the few relatively successful non-Apple tablet producers. Although still far from competing with the iPad in numbers, it easily outsold Motorola, RIM, and others, and considered tablets a net positive where they often dragged down competitors. Going to Windows 8 may be a gamble for ASUS given that Windows tablets are now the smallest niche in the category and will only get a true touch-native interface over two years after the iPad first arrived.
Microsoft was responsible for ushering in the first mainstream tablet computers, but in eight years from 2002 never succeeded in getting much adoption beyond specialized workers. Apple took only nine months to completely overshadow Windows' lifetime tablet sales, and Android also outsells Windows slates many times over.