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6/2/2010
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Asus, MSI Unveil Apple iPad Rivals

MSI's Wind Pad and Asus' Eee Pad, the latest entries in the tablet PC market, are expected to be low-cost challengers to Apple's slate computer.

Asus Eee Pad
(click image for larger view)
Asus Eee Pad
Apple will be looking to the East as competition heats up in the tablet PC market.

Taiwanese computer makers Asus and MSI unveiled this week their challengers to the Apple iPad. Introduced at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, the new systems are expected to be less expensive rivals to the Apple tablet.

MSI's Wind Pad will be available with Windows 7 or Google's Android operating system. The latter model will be less expensive, and both versions will sport a 10-inch touchscreen.

MSI has chosen a 1.66-GHz Intel Atom processor to power its Wind Pads, which will come with 2 GB of system memory and a 32-GB solid-state drive. Prices are expected to be less than $500. Andy Tung, VP of sales of MSI told Wired.com that the Android version will cost at least 20% less than the Windows model.

MSI plans to release the Wind Pad this year.

Asus is betting on Windows in launching its first tablet-style computer, called the Eee Pad. One model will feature a 12-inch touchscreen and run Windows 7 Home Premium, while a 10-inch version will run a slimmer version of the operating system. The larger model will be powered by a low-voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

Asus says the Eee Pad is powerful enough for playing multimedia, surfing the Web, and running productivity applications, such as Microsoft Word. The computer maker also claims the Eee Pad delivers 10 hours of battery life.

Asus has not officially said when it will release the Eee Pad, but media reports peg the shipping date at early next year.

Apple's iPad jumpstarted the market for new tablet-style PCs, often called slates because they lack a physical keyboard. Apple has sold more than 2 million iPads since its release in April.

MSI and Asus, both known for inexpensive laptops, will likely try to take share from Apple by selling less expensive systems than the iPad. Apple sells the slate computer, which runs a version of the iPhone OS, for a starting price of $499. The top-of-the-line model sells for $829.

Along with competition from Taiwan, Apple will also face competition at home from Hewlett-Packard and Dell. HP plans to release in the third quarter a tablet computer powered by WebOS, the smartphone operating system HP will acquire when it completes the $1.2 billion purchase of Palm this year.

Dell is prepping the Streak, an Android-based tablet with a 5-inch touchscreen. The device will be powered by Qualcomm's 1-GHz Snapdragon processor and will include 2 GB of internal storage, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, and a front-facing camera for video chat. It is expected to be released in the United Kingdom in early June and in the United States later in the summer.

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