Since early December 2009, consumers have been tantalized with news of the upcoming release of the ASUS Eee keyboard PC – a keyboard with all the functionality of a netbook. It seems they won’t be left waiting for too much longer. ASUS announced at CES 2010 that the Eee keyboard should be available sometime in the first quarter of 2010.

At first glance, the Eee keyboard PC consists of a regular-sized keyboard with a 5-inch touch display set off to the right-hand side – nothing particularly special there. But lurking beneath this innocent-looking framework is much more than you expected. Under the I, O and P keys lies an Intel Atom N270 (1.6 GHz) processor, meanwhile there’s also a single DIMM slot with 1 gigabyte of DDR2 memory and a built-in battery that boasts up to four hours of power.

The miniature touch display is mostly used for widgets – you can fit nine on the panel – much like a SmartPhone. The display also functions as a touchpad and mouse buttons. The screen is activated by a tap which initiates a click and the side display will support multi-touch gestures.

If you want to run Windows XP Home – the most likely option given the 16-GB SSD capability – you’ll need an external display. A separately purchased WiCast HDMI kit will allow you to transmit wirelessly from up to 5 meters (about 16.5 feet) away and is capable of streaming 720p and 1080i content. A Broadcom HD decoder chip is also installed to improve playback.

The Asus Eee Keyboard PC is expected to be released sometime before April 2010 and should retail for between USD499 to USD599.

Via PCMag