Invasion of the Eee: Asus plans something small for CES

Hardly content to rest on its laurels with its widely heralded Eee "PC gadget," Taiwan-based Asus has additional slick consumer products in mind for display at CES.

Asus, maker of the pint-sized Linux-based Eee PC, expects to display at least two new offerings at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January: its largest Windows PC to date, plus its first cell phone for the North American market.

Originally known outside of Taiwan mainly as a components manufacturer, Asus is now making a concerted push into the worldwide consumer electronics market, according to Asus spokesperson Debbie Lee, who spoke with BetaNews this week at a Pepcom-sponsored press event in New York City.

Asus Eee PC model 4G

Signifying the growing popularity of the $499-or-so Asus Eee in the tech community, several reporters and editors at this week's event - some of them on-the-road from home bases elsewhere - were toting around seven-inch Eee devices they'd already purchased.

But despite its test-pattern-sounding name - and regardless of its functionality, which includes a Windows XP-compatible interface, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g wireless, and some 40 built-in applications - the seven-inch Eee PC is actually a "PC gadget," according to the spokesperson.

Earlier today, rumors of the Eee's ability to run OS X were attributed to the Austrian news service Der Standard. However, a check of the page where the story was said to have originated this afternoon included no mention of the OS X rumor. Currently, the page merely repeats a story from DigiTimes indicating that Asus has a 10" Eee model being planned for next year, probably just in time for CES. But the Eee enthusiasts' blog on Wednesday quotes an Asus spokesperson as denying even that rumor.

Meanwhile, Asus' latest full-fledged PC, the U6, received its US rollout this fall, and will be shown at CES this winter. Plans are now in the works to release the U6 in other countries, too.

Features of the U6 model include Intel Centrino Duo technology, Windows Vista, a leather pad, a built-in fingerprint reader, and a DVD drive. In fact, all of the PCs in Asus' "U" PC line-up come with fingerprint readers. But the U6 is the first to include an optical drive, according to Lee. The U6 PC displayed at the Pepcom show was outfitted with a purplish-black cover in luminous voile.

Asus' still unannounced cell phone for the North American market will provide GPS as well as GSM capabilities, said Lee. The phone is targeted at use with multiple wireless carriers in North America.

Lee told BetaNews that her company is also now showing many of both the existing and emerging products in its CE line-up at RCS Experience, a retail store in New York City.

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