asus-eee-pc-701 Can anyone persuade Jonney Shih to make a good e-book tablet. Or at least offer his Asus laptop as a convertible—so it can become a tablet if desired, just like the OLPC machine? Shih could be just the guy to shake up the e-book hardware business.

A new profile in Forbes depicts a Jobs-style perfectionist in Jonney Shih, head of Asustek, as well as offering some tantalizing little details:

"…The 2- to 8-gigabyte memory cards can be upgraded to 32 gigabytes and the RAM from 256 megabyte to 1 gigabyte by simply taking out two screws on the back of the machine, something that Shen demonstrates but isn’t including in the marketing materials. Asustek is also linking with mobile telecom companies to provide a 3g attachment, so users can be connected when Wi-Fi isn’t available."

$300 price confirmed

$300 is supposed to be the price for the basic in the U.S. when the laptop debuts here later this month.

Even without the tablet form factor available, the Asus is good news for e-books. A comfty little tablet with a 7 inch screen is probably going to be far, far pleasant as a recreational e-reading gizmo than a bulkier model. It’s also great to know that Shih’s company is starting out with FBRReader and PDF capability. Perhaps I need to wise up Asus about .epub and see if it can help FBRreader do CSS and all the other little wrinkles. I hope the IDPF is listening. Imagine the Asus machine with a nice, bright orange .epub in the future—when standards are worked out—to remind customers it can effortlessly do e-books.

Meanwhile, wouldn’t it be cool of the Asus came bundled with some Project Gutenberg and Creative Commons offerings to entice people to try e-books?

Related: Engadget follow-up.


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