Asus could launch an Eee tablet

All eyes may be turned to Apple in expectation of the mystery Mac tablet, but Taiwanese hardware makers aren't skipping a beat. The folks at DigiTimes have gotten word from "industry sources" that Asus is "making preparations to launch" a tablet device of its own.

DigiTimes refers to this device as the Eee Pad, saying it will have a 4" or 7" display and a blend of tablet PC and mobile Internet device functionality. "Current details of the Eee Pad suggest the product has been inspired by the rumors of Apple's planned tablet device," the site adds. And... that's about it as far as details go.

Taiwanese firms like Asus are no strangers to the concept of borrowing a good idea and turning it into commercially successful products, of course. Back when everyone was still excited about the One Laptop Per Child project's famed "$100 laptop," the rumor mill suggested that original design manufacturer Quanta Computer could release a commercial version of the system for first-world nations. Just over two months later, Asus unleashed the original Eee PC netbook at the Computex 2007 show in Taipei. The rest is history.

Things are a little bit different this time, though. While the OLPC project said early on it had no plans to commercialize the XO-1, the same can't be said for Apple and its tablet. We also keep hearing that Apple is forging distribution deals with media publishers, while we've heard no such rumors concerning Asus. Then again, with the latest analyst report pointing to a $1,000 price for the Apple tablet, Asus could undercut Apple without too much trouble and offer a more barebone product at a more attractive price.

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