The tablet computers that compete with the iPad have mostly been uninspiring, the Associated Press reports. The Eee Pad Transformer stands out with a design that isn’t just copied from the iPad: It’s a tablet that turns into a laptop. For $399, $100 less than the cheapest iPad, you get a tablet computer with a 10-inch screen and hardware that doesn’t cut corners. It’s fully usable on its own. For another $149, you can buy a keyboard that connects to the tablet. Together, they look and open like a small laptop. The Transformer is made by Asustek Computer Inc., the Taiwanese company that started the brief “netbook” craze a few years ago by selling small, inexpensive laptops. With the keyboard attached, the Transformer is nearly indistinguishable from a netbook…

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staff and wire services reports