Asus, Acer First Up With Windows 8 Convertible Tablets11:45 AM EST Mon. Jun. 04, 2012
Acer and Asus kicked off what's expected to be a major showing of new Windows 8-based mobile devices at this week's Computex Taipei event in Taiwan.
In a pre-event press conference Monday, Acer and Asus each took the wraps off a slew of new hybrid notebooks and tablets based on Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 OS. The news comes on the heels of the official Windows 8 Preview Release last week, which marked the final pre-release of the highly anticipated software.
For Acer's part, the company showcased two Windows 8-based versions of its flagship Iconia tablet: the Iconia W510 and Iconia W700. The touch-capable 10.1-inch W510 and 11.6-inch W700 run on Intel x86-based processors and can be contorted into a multitude of form factors or viewing angles.
The Iconia W510, especially, is being positioned as a convertible, all-purpose mobile device. According to Acer, the W510 touts a tri-mode functionality that lets users leverage it as either a tablet, a notebook, or a third form factor called presentation mode, that involves bending the screen backward to prop it up on its detachable keyboard.
"It is an everyday tablet with convertible functions, smartly designed for modern-day explorers whose primary needs are freedom of usage for slate, keyboard and hands-free touch," Acer said in a statement.
The larger W700, while not technically convertible, comes with a multipurpose cradle for different viewing options. Landscape mode, for instance, tilts the device at a 70-degree angle optimal for watching videos, while a 20-degree angle is recommended for typing.
Further specs, pricing details and expected availability for the W510 and W700 have not yet been revealed.
Similar to Acer, fellow Taiwanese PC maker Asus unveiled Monday a modified version of one of its existing tablets -- the Android-based Transformer Prime – running the new Windows 8 platform. Called the Asus Transformer Book, the device also touts a convertible form factor that allows users to switch between traditional notebook and tablet modes.
Fueled by Intel's Ivy Bridge Core processors, Asus' new Transformer Book, which comes in an 11.6-inch, 13-inch or 14-inch model, has SSD and HDD storage, 4 GB DDR3 dual-channel RAM, and is USB 3.0-compatible. A front-facing HD camera and 5-megapixel rear-facing camera are included.
Asus also lifted the curtain on its new Taichi dual-screen and touch-capable notebook. Continuing with the convertible trend, the device can be used as either a traditional notebook or, when the clamshell is shut, as a touch-screen tablet on the back lid. According to Asus, both screens can be used at the same time, by multiple users.
"Better still, while they provide access to the same hardware, the two screens are completely independent of each other and can also be used simultaneously, which means the Taichi can be shared with two users for a host of innovative new applications," the company said in a statement.
The Taichi comes in either an 11.6-inch or 13.3-inch option and both its screens have an LED-backlit display. Like Asus, Acer did not reveal further information regarding pricing or availability.
NEXT: All Eyes On Windows 8
In addition to Taiwanese manufacturers such as Asus and Acer, other PC makers, including Dell and Hewlett-Packard, are expected to launch laptops, tablets and possibly new hybrid form factors running Windows 8 later this year. The release of the new OS has been widely considered a make-or-break move for Microsoft in the mobile market, where it has struggled to compete against smartphone and tablet giants Apple and Google.
Industry researcher Strategy Analytics pegged Apple's iOS as accounting for 57.6 percent of the global tablet OS market at the end of last year. Google's Android was next with 39.1 percent of the market, while Microsoft trailed behind significantly with a meager 1.5 percent.
Windows 8, along with Windows RT -- a modified version of the new OS that will be optimized for ARM-based mobile devices -- could give Microsoft the boost it needs to grow this number and capture some of this share from Apple and Google.
"The upcoming release of Windows 8 this year cannot come quickly enough for Microsoft, so its hardware partners can start competing more effectively in the tablet space," Strategy Analytics wrote in January.
The Computex Taipei event, which is the largest computing trade show in Asia and the second largest worldwide, is expected to play host this week to a number of Windows 8-specific announcements and debuts. According to the event's website, nearly 120,000 attendees are expected.