News of the ASUS Transformer, technically known by the somewhat cumbersome model name Eee Pad Transformer TF101-B1, has been one of the hotter technology stories of the last few weeks. No one can argue with the specifications: NVIDIA's Tegra 2 dual-core system-on-chip, 10.1" LCD (IPS for wide-angle viewing) display running at 1280 x 800, and a unique (optional) laptop dock that extends battery life and converts the tablet into a compelling netbook or budget laptop alternative. Though it is a Wi-Fi only device, it is $100 less than the least expensive iPad 2, or $549 altogether with the laptop dock, which gives something many iPad users would love to have: USB 2.0 ports, and memory card reader integrated into the device. Say goodbye dongles!
Last Thursday we learned that the Taiwanese electronics maker would be bringing the tablet to the US today. Despite retailers continuing to push existing stock of the Motorola Xoom as the flagship Android tablet (particularly because of mobile kiosks' high visibility), consumers are finding something compelling in the price of the Transformer. According to Engadget, the Eee Pad TF101-B1 is all but sold out. In fact, they claim the Amazon product page went from "in stock" to "not available" within minutes.
Combined with favorable feedback for Barnes & Noble's Nook Color 1.2 software update, Android tablets seem to have found a successful place in the sub $500 price range. Given the (still) relatively lacking selection of tablet-optimized apps for Honeycomb tablets in the Android marketplace, those who cross-shop the iPad have a difficult time plunking down the same (or more) money for something like the Xoom, but the Transformer appears to be off to a good start. If supply can keep up, the Transformer could become the new flagship device - at least in terms of sales.
Update: Most of the links on ASUS' official "Where to Buy" page for the Transformer are dead, pointing to listings that have been 'deactivated'. Amazon has an official Transformer page but, oddly enough, searching for terms like "Eee Pad Transformer" and "TF101-B1" do not pull up the correct device.