Asus to release Eee Tablet with Linux in October

The Eee Tablet is aimed at the e-reader market and includes Wi-Fi

Asustek Computer plans to launch its long awaited Eee Tablet with an 8-inch LCD touchscreen in October for around US$300, though prices vary by market.

It was rumored the device would be the first major, non-handset Android product from Asustek and that it might compete with Apple's iPad.

But neither of those things are the case. The Eee Tablet may rival Amazon's Kindle in the e-reader market, but it does not use digital ink or specialized e-reader screens that give e-readers their long battery life.

Instead, the 8-inch touchscreen is a normal LCD display that can handle 64 shades of gray, has 1024 by 768 resolution, but does not have a backlight, said Asustek product engineers outside of the company's second quarter investors' conference in Taipei on Friday.

Enthusiasts of specialized digital ink e-reader screens say backlights cause people's eyes to tire when they read LCD screens. Users are essentially looking into a light, just as in normal laptop or desktop computing. The Eee Tablet does not use a backlight in order to make reading more comfortable.

The Eee Tablet will run a Linux OS, but not Google's Android mobile operating system, which has long been the rumor. The Linux distribution on board was developed by Asustek, said Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek, speaking with reporters after the conference.

He said the Eee Tablet name may also be changed to Eee Note. Asustek does not want people to confuse the product with tablet PCs.

The Eee Tablet has three key functions aimed at school students: the e-reader, note taking and Internet browsing.

Asustek added writing software to the Eee Tablet so users can take notes with a stylus on the touchscreen, and onboard software digitizes those notes. The company also included a 2-megapixel camera to the device so students can take pictures of a teacher's whiteboard instead of having to write so much. It also includes a digital audio recorder to record lectures.

The device also has a Web browser. The Eee Tablet can connect to the Internet wirelessly via onboard Wi-Fi.

Asustek says the device will run for 10 hours before needing a recharge. It has 2GB of internal memory for storage and a MicroSD card slot to add more capacity.

The device will launch globally in October, though it will be available to gadget reviewers from the middle of September, according to Asustek representatives.

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Dan Nystedt

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