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Monday, June 4, 2012

Asus previews hybrid laptop-tablet device and all-in-one PC

Asustek Computer (Asus) on Monday showed off a tablet with an ARM processor and the Windows RT OS, becoming among the first of its type shown by PC makers.

The product, called Asus Tablet 600, has an 10-inch display and a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU. The tablet was shown running Windows RT Tablet Preview edition during the Asus news conference at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

The tablet weighs 520 grams, and is 8.35 millimeters thick. Asus did say when the device will be available.

The device is intended to be a highly mobile device, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a speech at the news conference.

The device is a breakthrough for Microsoft and ARM, who have worked closely to bring the new OS to devices. ARM processors are found in most smartphones and tablets, and the new device provides a path for Microsoft to compete with other operating systems including Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS.

The new Asus tablet also adds weight to ARM-based devices running Windows, and a possible avenue for Microsoft to break away from its reliance on x86 chips for Windows. Windows grew up on Intel's x86 chips, and so far Windows on ARM devices have only been shown by chip makers such as Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, and users have not been allowed to play around with them freely.

Not that there's anything wrong sitting next to each other, but this looks much better," said Asus chairman Jonney Shih, who introduced the Taichi at a press conference the day before Computex officially begins.

The Taichi was shown running Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS, expected to be released later this year. It will run Intel's latest Core microprocessors and be offered with screen sizes of 13.3 and 11.6 inches. The Taichi is "as thin and light" as Asus's current Zenbook ultrabooks, Shih said. He didn't give a price or an exact shipping date.

He also introduced the Transformer All-in-One. With an 18.4-inch screen, the PC looks like a traditional all-in-one desktop but has a few twists that make it unique.

The display has a touch screen and can be detached from the body and used separately, prompting Shih to declare it the world's biggest tablet, as he carried across the stage under his arm. It also runs dual operating systems, Windows 8 and Android. In Windows 8 mode the display can be used as a remote desktop, communicating wirelessly with the base. Running Android it operates independently as a tablet.

However, there are some kinks to work out. Shih couldn't get the display to operate remotely, and as he fumbled with it an error message appeared that declared "this app cannot open." He gave up and moved to the next product.

Also shown was the Asus Tablet 810 with an 11.6-inch screen and the Windows 8 OS. The tablet runs on Intel's next-generation Atom processor, though Asus did not provide further chip details. Intel is scheduled to release an Atom chip code-named Clover Trail in time for release of Windows 8 tablets.

The 810 has an optional dock with a full QWERTY keyboard and a built-in battery for extended run time.

Shih also introduced the Tablet 600, which has a 10.1-inch screen and runs Windows RT on an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 processor.

Asus also introduced the Asus Transformer Book, a convertible notebook with a detachable screen. Much like Samsung's Series 7 Slate, the touchscreen can be detached from the laptop to run in tablet mode. The PC runs on Intel's latest Core processors code-named Ivy Bridge.

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