By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The Asus Eee Transformer will go on sale tomorrow for RRP $599 and $799. The difference in price does not refer to the tablet itself, but whether it is purchased with or without the keyboard attachment.

For the cheaper price, you get a 16GB Android Honeycomb tablet with around 8 hours of battery life. For $200 more you double both the memory and the battery life, whilst also getting a full QWERTY keyboard and a trackpad to control the device with a cursor.

Although the tablet category was founded on the gay abandonment of the keyboard and mouse — Apple calls the iPad a post-PC device — consumers are becoming frustrated with the cumbersome touch input necessitated on touch-only devices. Asus product manager Beryl Lee today quoted research that said 33 per cent of tablet buyers wanted a keyboard for their tablets. Further evidence of this is the burgeoning Bluetooth keyboard accessory market.

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Unlike the Acer W500 Windows docking tablet, which clicks together rather than truly attaching (so much so that this author dropped the screen at the launch), the Transformer docks completely with its keyboard. There’s even a curved holster supporting the tablet, creating a folding motion similar to notebook computers.

The Transformer tablet has a 10.1-inch WXGA touchscreen with In-Plane Switching for wide viewing angles (178-degrees was quoted), Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with 1GB RAM, Wi-FI (B/G/N) and Bluetooth 2.1.

The tablet has mini HDMI, MicroSD, a headphone jack and a microphone. The keyboard adds two USB ports and an SD card slot to this connectivity.

Lee told that the keyboard would be made available as a standalone purchase sometime in the future. She quoted an RRP of around $200 for this future release.

Also on show today was the Eee Slider, which is an Android tablet, similar in specs to the Transformer, which can slide out from a base to around 45 degrees, revealing a keyboard underneath. This model will be available soon.

This is the keyboard attachment that can be purchased with the Transformer. Notice the curved casing to house the tablet and facilitate folding.

The Transformer as a standalone product.

When docked, the Transformer does look, feel and behave like a notebook PC (except it's running Android).