Asus Padfone ” Pad+Phone ” Android Honeycomb device revealed
Taking the idea of the Motorola Atrix and running with it, Asus’ PadFone is both smartphone and tablet—when docked, photos can be snapped on the phone’s camera and used by the Android tablet. Once plugged inside the tablet, the Padfone can use the handset for 3G connectivity, and supports core functions of the phone on the big screen, such as taking calls. The second device also effectively extends battery life of your phone. Though software and hardware specs haven’t gone official yet, there will be some kind of video conferencing capabilities on there, and the promotional videos show the tablet will at least be running Android 3.0 Honeycomb, if not Ice Cream Sandwich. The tablet looks like it will be in the 10-inch range, while the phone will be in the neighbourhood of 4 inches.
If the name itself and image weren’t enough clarification, the PadFone is a tandem consisting of a 4.3? Asus Android smartphone and a 10.1? tablet dock — which looks quite a bit like the Eee Pad Transformer. Flip the bay cover open on the back of the tablet, plug in to the phone’s HDMI and USB connectors, and you’re ready to rock — you’ll even be able to utilize the phone’s camera for rear-facing shots while docked thanks to a punch-0ut in the cover.
The PadFone is essentially a symbiotic relationship between smartphone and slate, whereas the Atrix’s screen and keyboard dock are intended to replace your netbook or laptop. It’s a concept that owners of both Apple iPhone and iPad wish were possible: To dock the former into the latter and quit having to use two separate devices. From the demonstration, the PadFone is inserted into the back of the dock like a cassette tape, hidden by a panel that fits flush with the back of the tablet. With the Atrix, the Smartphone sits several inches behind the screen, which simply isn’t as clean-looking.
It’s clear that the Padfone is borrowing a lot of the BlackBerry PlayBook’s philosophy of tightening the relationship between smartphone and tablet, only Asus is going about it in a much more direct way. It’s a cool idea, but the last time Asus got into the smartphone game it was with Garmin, and as novel as their navigation-centric brainchild was, it didn’t do particularly well.
Other details about the PadFone remain fairly scant at this point, as Asus is still finalizing what hardware will make the cut. The company is targeting Q4 2011 for launch, so you should be able to get your paws on one just in time for the holiday season. Let’s hope there’s a bit more stock to go around than there was for the launch of the Transformer — which flew off shelves at $399 when they initially went up for sale.