Earlier today at Computex 2011 in Taipei, ASUS revealed an interesting creation named the Padfone: a smart phone and tablet mash-up. We have seen netbooks that turn into tablets such as the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid with LePad from Lenovo in the past. Then there are also other gadgets that do the just the opposite. The fairly new ASUS EEE Pad Transformer is an Android tablet which turns converts into a laptop form factor with a keyboard accessory. Even the Motorola Atrix 4G smart phone can turn into a netbook-like device. The new Padfone on the other hand does something different: the smart phone component slides into the tablet for a large screen experience.
Padfone elevates consumer choice to new levels — Innovation is at the heart of ASUS design and the new Padfone reveals exciting new possibilities for mobile computing and communication. This convergent device combines a smartphone and a tablet computer into one symbiotic gadget that allows consumers to choose the screen size that best fits their activities while seamlessly sharing data and 3G internet access.
Asus is keeping quiet when it comes to specifics regarding the Padfone, but we do know that it is slated for a launch by the end of the year. While unconfirmed, the device will likely run on Android Ice Cream Sandwich which supposedly merges the Android 3.0 Honeycomb and the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platforms together. This means that the same operating system can get the job done when running on either form factor.
The brains of the Padfone including the processor, memory, storage, and network connectivity are in the smart phone component. The tablet only provides a larger screen and a bigger battery. I am just hoping that Asus makes some wise choices when it comes to pricing. If the tablet portion retails as a separate accessory for a price that is as high as a dedicated tablet, buying one would make no sense. Motorola made the same mistake by pricing the laptop dock for the Atrix at an amount which can buy a full-blown netbook.
Assuming that pricing is reasonable, this could open the doors to a whole new market of docking devices. Many Android apps feature both a smart phone and tablet version inside one file. It would be great if the interface would instantly switch when pacing the smart phone into the tablet or vice versa without interrupting your work flow. Asus introducing a keyboard dock for this tablet would be a cherry on top. Turning your smart phone into a tablet then into a netbook would be a geek’s dream come true. I just hope Asus picks a better name before this gadget his stores.
Links: Asus Padfone