Those retracted product pages on Best Buy and Newegg were no fluke. Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer, a 10-inch tablet running Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, will start at $399 when it ships later this month.
Former Engadgeteer Joanna Stern confirmed the launch details with a contact at Asus. The $399 price is for a 16 GB Wi-Fi model, but she had no details on the 32 GB version (once listed for $499 on Best Buy and Newegg). The Transformer’s optional keyboard and trackpad dock, which props up the tablet like a laptop, will sell for $149.
Not counting tablets that don’t run proper tablet operating systems, such as the Archos 70, Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer will be the cheapest tablet on the market, despite having nearly identical specs to the $599 Motorola Xoom (except for the lesser storage). A couple months ago, Harry wondered if we’d ever see a tablet that beat Apple’s iPad on price. Looks like it’s finally happening.
Also worth noting: I’ve seen the concerns that Android tablet makers will struggle to differentiate themselves, given that they’re all running the same operating system. But from what I can tell, the Eee Pad Transformer is generating a good deal of excitement on its pricing and clever — but optional — keyboard dock. I’m unconvinced that tablet makers need to mutilate the Android software to stand out.