Asus has been on a roll lately, what with the announcements of their new EEE Pads, which look pretty good, actually, and more importantly have their own unique selling points that will most definitely help with the sales.
And just recently, they came out with their newest device, the Padfone, which is an interesting concoction to say the least. There have been numerous rumors about it, no doubt started by Asus themselves, and the name is spot on – this is the first Pad/Smartphone hybrid in the world. You might’ve already seen the Motorola Atrix, which uses a similar concept of being able to drive a netbook or even a full desktop setup by using a special dock. Well, the Padfone takes it further and makes the smartphone the core of the tablet – the phone is literally swallowed by the pad :-).
The smartphone actually looks pretty good – it has a very nice design with a metal frame and chrome accents, kind of reminding of the Dell Venue Pro, with a big 4.3 inch display and all the features you can think of. The hardware specs haven’t yet been confirmed, but it’s more than likely that the Padfone will have a dual core processor or at least a very fast single core unit – after all, it needs high performance to work both as your smartphone and tablet.
The tablet part has a 10.1 inch screen, stereo speakers, an SD card slot, port replicators for HDMI and USB, and a large battery that charges the phone while its docked and can provide up to 16 hours more battery life time for the phone – you can use it like a portable charger of sorts, and charge the pad once you’re at home or near a power outlet.
It is also still unclear whether the Padfone will launch with the upcoming Android Ice Cream Sandwich (which has support for both tablet and smartphone screens) that doesn’t even have an official version number yet, or if Asus will dare to launch another Android 2.2 or even 2.3 tablet on the market – the phone would run it well, but the tablet mode will be quite unattractive.
The Asus Padfone is an interesting concept that has a lot of advantages: you can use your smartphone as a universal device – use it as a phone, navigator, music player and whatnot on its own and also be able to surf the Web, edit documents comfortably, watch movies and do much more with it docked to the pad – all on the same device, without having to worry about synchronizing files and switching between operating systems.
Asus definitely got that right, however, there are a few important drawbacks to the Padfone, as well, which will make a lot of people think twice before buying it. Uhe most important disadvantage is that you’ll have only one device, the tablet will be pretty much useless without the smartphone, so if you lose the latter or need it for a phone call, you won’t be able to use the big screen. In that case, you might be better off carrying both a fully functional tablet and a smartphone. However, the Padfone will cost relatively cheap for what it offers, which is great – you’ll basically be paying for a tablet and getting a smartphone for free.
I’m sure that the Padfone will find its buyers, but of course, it needs to be released first – and Asus has yet to get to that part. I just hope it comes out this fall!