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Hands on with the Asus Eee Pad MeMO tablet

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Asus has gone tablet crazy this year, showcasting a wealth of products at the Consumer Electronics Show that have made the journey to CeBIT as hands-on demos - including the innovative Eee Pad MeMO.

The Eee Pad MeMO - pronounced 'Mee Mo,' we're reliably informed - is, at first glance, a pretty standard Android tablet. Due to ship with Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' within the next month, the Qualcomm 8260 ARM-based processor runs at 1.2GHz - making it one of the more powerful tablets on display here in Hannover.

The 7-inch form factor, as popularised by Samsung's Galaxy Tab and derided by Apple's Steve Jobs, makes it comfortable to handle, while the multi-touch 1024x600 display is crisp and clear. Sadly, it's only a TFT - and can't hold a torch to some of the IPS displays on show at CeBIT this year.

Connectivity is covered by 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. While the lack of Bluetooth 3.0 is a shame, there's an interesting accessory for it: a Bluetooth-connected remote.

Featuring a small display of its own, the remote allows functions like media playback to be controlled without having to take the tablet out of your bag. If you've got an active SIM card in the tablet, you can use the remote as a mobile 'phone, routing the call via the tablet and meaning you don't have to hold a 7-inch device up to your ear.

While we didn't get a chance to try the puck out on the display model, it was a neat design - and the transparent screen looks and feels especially sci-fi. It's hard to say whether it would replace our smartphones, but it's certainly a better alternative than Dell's attempt to convince the world that holding a 5-inch tablet to your ear doesn't make you look like an idiot.

In use, the Eee Pad MeMO is responsive and fast - although the prototype on display had a few niggles in the software that staff assured would be gone by the time the device ships. Whether it can draw attention away from Apple's upcoming iPad 2 launch, however, remains to be seen.

The Eee Pad MeMO will launch towards the end of this month or the start of April, and is likely to sit towards the premium end of the smartphone market.