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Asus Announces $250 7-inch Tegra 3 Tab At Nvidia's CES keynote

If you were watching, then you probably noticed that the Nvidia CES keynote was slow going for much of the presentation. For the first half, it looked as though the keynote was going to be nothing but a tribute to how rich Jen-Hsun Huang is. (Seriously, the man can afford some expensive toys). But, after bragging about his car, followed by a protracted marketing pitch for several (admittedly awesome) Android tablet apps, things got rather interesting.

The bulk of Huang's presentation was conducted on the Tegra 3 Transformer Prime tablet, appropriate as it was largely concerned with the way that tablets have completely dominated the consumer computer market in the last 2 years. The Transformer Prime is, incidentally, as impressive as Nvidia wants us to think. Behind that 10 inch screen it boasts a quad-core augmented by an additional fifth core (Huang called it a 'ninja core'), runs on Ice Cream Sandwich and runs smoothly at 60 frames per second without stuttering, (at least not during the demo).

Huang demonstrated photo editing app Snapseed (already insanely popular on iPad), as well as its graphical capabilities via a game of Riptide GP. He then showed off the ability of Transformer Prime to remotely access a desktop PC using a program called Splashtop THD, and played a game of Skyrim entirely through the Transformer. That was indeed extremely cool, though equally impractical, since in order to pull off the trick, you'll need to have a Transformer Prime, a PC and a copy of Skyrim, and you'll have to decide that installing Splashtop and testing it out is less trouble than simply walking over to your gaming PC.

Huang then brought Asus CEO Jerry Shen onstage to talk about the development of the tablet. If you're just now catching up, skip past about 5 minutes of awkward banter and hold onto your hats, because despite the transparently scripted nature of the event, they still succeeded in blowing our minds. First, Shen confirmed what we already knew: the Transformer Prime Tablet is available starting today. So, commence unnecessarily convoluted PC gaming. Second, they began to talk about the enormous impact low price point tablets like Amazon's wildly successful Kindle, and how it might have affected Asus' development. At this point Shen pulled a tiny - at least by comparison to the Transformer Prime - tablet out of his pocket.

That tablet, which like Transformer Prime is a Tegra 3, runs Ice Cream Sandwich and boasts the same quad+ core, when released will be sold for the astonishing, low low price of $249.00. Considering that with a 7 inch screen it's the same size as a Kindle Fire and out-powers it exponentially, that's an impressive bargain. It is apparently still in development, and Shen was unable to offer an availability date. If the price doesn't change, expect it to fly off shelves.

The Keynote concluded with an appearance from Microsoft’s Aidan Marcuss, who gave a demonstration of how Windows 8 is being developed with the tablet market in mind (hint: the Windows 8 tablet interface resembles Xbox Live. Make of that what you will). Huang repeated what others have said about Windows 8 being on par with Windows 95; we'll reserve judgment until it comes out, but we'll note that at no point during that demo did it crash. So it's at least better than Windows 98.