It's a tablet. It's a phone. It's the Padfone. Sorry, we couldn't resist.
ASUS' biggest announcement at its Computex press conference, held one day before the official start of the biggest ICT trade show this side of the Pacific, was the new hybrid device, a marriage of tablet and smartphone. Of course, everyone in the room already had more than an inkling of what to expect, with ASUS starting the rumors with a teaser on its Facebook page. By the time we set off for the press-con, the news, the trademarked Padfone name and even images of the device were plastered all over the internet, including our news page.
So what exactly is the Padfone? Catch that and more in the video highlight of the event, followed by individual product details and pictures:-
While the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer was about docking a tablet to a physical keyboard and transforming it into a netbook, the Padfone is a 10.1-inch tablet dock for a 4.3-inch smartphone. As some of you may have experienced, the smartphone is inadequate for some use scenarios due to its relatively small screen size. It's one of the reasons why tablets are taking off and why some users have both devices. However, besides the hassle of having to carry two devices, there are other inconveniences that have prompted ASUS to come up with its own solution in the Padfone.
The advantages of the Padfone include extended battery life and the use of a single 3G data plan and SIM card compared to two. In fact, the extra cost of a 3G data plan and the presence of hotspot tethering may be reasons why Wi-Fi only tablets appear to be more popular among consumers. A single data plan may not be to the liking of service providers, but consumers will appreciate this Padfone advantage.
The tablet dock also charges the smartphone when it's docked inside, thanks to the battery cell within the tablet. According to ASUS, switching between the devices will be seamless and dynamic, with your applications resuming smoothly after one docks the phone within. This means consumers decide what form factor is suitable for the application and move easily between the two, without the extra hassle of data transfers.
Details are still scarce about the gadget's specs, retail availability and even what flavor of Android will be used. Given its unique merger of smartphone and tablet form factors however, it appears that it can only be using the upcoming Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, which Google claims to unify its current Gingerbread and Honeycomb Android OS. This would also place its availability in Q4 2011, since that's when Google is expected to launch Ice Cream Sandwich.
Besides the Padfone, ASUS also announced a new 3D tablet. The company may not be the first to reveal plans for a 3D tablet (LG had previously announced one), but the 7-inch, ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 3D has a stylus to go with its glasses-free 3D display (1280 x 800 IPS, multi-touch capable) that will help it differentiate from other tablets. Not to mention that its portrait orientation will seem to make it a device designed for note-taking. It will run on the latest version of Android and comes with its own bundled MeMIC headset for mobile calls and music.