CES: Asus loads shotgun with tablets large and small

asuseeeslate.jpgAsus offered its response to Apple's iPad at CES today, and it came in forms large and small.

The flagship model is a Windows 7 monster described as "the most powerful tablet in the world." That it is named the Asus Slate seems immediately suspect, Microsoft's branding efforts already having been tarnished by the dismal HP Slate that CEO Steve Ballmer offered up last year. That said, Asus' is such a powerful beast that its uniqueness makes guessing a mug's game: an i5 CPU, a 12.1" multitouch screen, 64GB SSD and 4GB RAM put it in a league of its own, where HP's Slate contained the same feeble Atom CPU as cheap netbooks.

If nothing else, this will be a litmus test for the usual complaints about how Windows never works as a touch OS: if this epic tablet still feels less responsive and finger-friendly than an iPad, we can safely say that the decade-long quest to sell consumers tablet PCs running desktop editions of Windows has finally, irremediably soiled the bed.

And if it works, yay! Awesome tablet time.

Pricing isn't final, but you can
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at Amazon. Engadget says it'll be $1000 and up.

But this is was just the beginning today: Asus also announced up a 10" model running Android 3 that has a slide-out keyboard, a 7-inch "Eee Memo" model with a Snapdragon CPU, and what looks like a Fujitsu-style convertible tablet laptop.

Asus' lean toward larger displays is interesting, as Samsung's teeny 7" Galaxy Tab turned out to be 2010's only strong answer to Apple in what analysts imaginatively described as the "tablet market." The expectation was that others would follow suit, but Asus is clearly unsure what will stick. Critics smell weakness in this sort of shotgun strategy, but it's good for customer choice.