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Laptops

Asus Eee Pad gets release date, but we'll have to wait for Android

The Asus Eee Pad will finally arrive just after Christmas. Windows-powered versions are first out of the gate -- hit the story to see how long we'll have to wait for Android.

The Asus Eee Pad will finally arrive in January next year. Windows-powered 10- and 12-inch tablets from the pioneer of the netbook will just miss Christmas, while Android versions will hit shops in April 2011.

The first Eee Pads will run Windows. That means you'll be able to use all the features and software -- and Flash video -- that you use on your full-sized computer, but the look and feel won't be as easy on the eyes and the fingers as Android or iOS, which are designed specifically for smaller screens.

Asus will have spent the last few months coming up with a finger-friendly interface to drape over the top of Windows, as it did with the touch-sensitive desktop Eee Top.

It's been half a year since Asus unveiled the 12-inch EP121 and 10-inch EP101TC Windows-powered tablet PCs. In the meantime, the Apple iPad has conquered the market and attracted a host of competitors. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the first serious contender to hit shops, going on sale this very week.

Just as Apple has revinvented the market for tablets, Asus was at the forefront of the last wave of portable computers when it introduced the Eee PC budget mini-computer back in 2007. Netbooks were so wildly popular we were inundated with them from every manufacturer -- with one glaring exception. While the rest of the industry was churning out teeny-tiny budget netbooks on a nearly daily basis, Apple was quietly scheming an alternative take on the portable computer.

There's no word yet on prices, or a release date for Asus' confusingly named Eee Tablet ebook reader thingy.

As the tablet market explodes in 2011, we'll see whether the iPad has sounded the death knell for the netbook. Have you been won over by giant touchscreens or do you still prefer a physical keyboard on your portable computer? Let us know in te comments.