Watch out Google: Asus makes a play to own the entry-level Android tablet space, blurs line between smartphones and tablets.
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Asus introduced a handful of new devices at the Computex trade show taking place in Taiwan Monday, including a tablet with a 10-inch screen, a tablet with a 7-inch screen and a phablet with a 6-inch screen. With the screen sizes so similar, Asus is further blurring the line between what constitutes a tablet, a phablet and a smartphone. It is also making a play against Google for the entry-level tablet space.
The first tablet, called the MeMo Pad HD7, follows the path set by last year's Nexus 7. The device comes with a 7-inch in-plane switching LCD display with 1280 x 800 pixels. It is powered by a quad-core Cortex A7 processor. The HD7 includes a user-facing 1.2-megapixel camera and the option to add a 5-megapixel main camera, one feature sorely missed on the Nexus 7. The MeMo Pad HD7 has a similar form factor and appearance to last year's device, but will be sold in multiple colors at the low price of just $129 for the 8 GB version and $149 for the 16 GB version. It will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The larger tablet steps things up a bit in terms of specs and performance. The Asus MeMo Pad FHD 10 boasts a 1,920 x 1,200 pixel display, which gives it a better-than-HD resolution. As with Samsung's 10-inch tablet also announced Monday, the MeMo Pad FHD 10 is powered by an Intel 1.6 GHz dual-core Clover Trail+ processor from the Atom series. Score another win for Intel. The device also includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS. It offers dual cameras and comes in 16 GB and 32GB variants. Pricing for the MeMo FHD 10 was not revealed. It will ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
In addition to the two tablets, Asus introduced a device that's prepared to take on Samsung's Galaxy Note and LG's Optimus G Pro. The Asus FonePad Note includes a pocket-busting 6.0-inch 1080p full HD display. That bests both the Note II and G Pro by half an inch.
The FonePad is powered by a 1.6 GHz Z2560 Clover Trail Atom processor that is paired with 2 GB of RAM. Other features of the FonePad Note include a stylus for interacting with applications on the screen, dual front speakers, and of course Wi-Fi, HSPA+, Bluetooth and GPS, but no LTE. It offers an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.2-megapixel user-facing camera, as well. It will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The MeMo Pad HD7 and FDH 10 will both be available in July. Availability of the FonePad Note wasn't immediately revealed. The two tablets will likely be sold in the U.S. through select electronics retailers but the FonePad probably won't be.
Asus is clearly looking to own the entry-level tablet space. The Nexus 7, sold by Google, was one of the best Android tablet deals for 2012. With such a low price point, the HD7 will surely be a hit with budget-minded shoppers. The FHD 10's success will depend a lot on its price. Asus doesn't have a lot of wiggle room, but if it keeps the cost to under $299, it has a fighting chance against devices such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 8 and Tab 3 10.1.
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