Bargain hunters looking for a new ultraportable this Christmas could do well to hold off until the new year, as ASUS CEO Jerry Shen has announced the company plans to launch an Android-based Smartbook in Q1 2010 that could be priced at around $180. ASUS were among the companies demonstrating Smartbook prototypes - based on Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon processor - back in June, but since then have downplayed their involvement with the format.
Describing the Smartbook as a "secret weapon", Shen confirmed that it would slot into the company's Eee PC line. No other details have been given, but the early Smartbook reference designs we've seen have integrated 3G WWAN and GPS, and promised "all day" battery life.
That GPS functionality could tie in to other partnerships, it's suggested. Sascha from NetbookNews has flagged up ASUS' ongoing partnership with Garmin (the fruits of which right now are the unloved nuvifone range) and has apparently heard from a source fingering RIM as another potential collaborator. They're tipping a combination of location-based services, navigation and messaging; however, again, there are no details.