Asus' Eee Pad Transformer is rather unique in the world of tablets, not only because it docks into a keyboard with a built-in battery and touchpad, but also because the base tablet starts at only $399. Coming in at $100 less than the iPad was a smart move, and it's surely had a hand in the Transformer's popularity. Asus has reportedly shipped over a million Transformers since the slate's launch this summer—and that's with the Japanese tsunami slowing initial production.
For the Transformer's encore, Asus looks set to tap Kal-El, Nvidia's next-generation Tegra system-on-chip. Don't expect this puppy to ring up cheaper than an iPad, though. DigiTimes says Asus head Jerry Shen has confirmed that the new Transformer will start at $499.
The fact that the Transformer cost quite a bit less than all the other slates was a big motivating factor in my own purchase of the device, so I'm a little disappointed to learn that Asus will be charging more for the sequel. That said, the second-gen Transformer's processor upgrade is surely worth a premium over tablets based on the current Tegra 2 SoC. The Transformer should also retain its display resolution advantage over the iPad.
One thing that will have to be addressed is the Transformer's comparatively portly frame. The thing is hardly unwieldy, but the latest iPad and Galaxy tab are noticeably thinner and lighter.