Asus combines smartphone, tablet in Padfone

Computex — After teasing the Padfone with carefully cropped glamour shots, Asus finally revealed its tablet/smartphone hybrid at a press conference earlier today. Unfortunately, it didn’t say much about the actual device or the underlying hardware. But, look, an uncropped picture:

So, what do we know about the Padfone? The smartphone fits into a small compartment at the back of the tablet that closes completely, so you don’t have to worry about the phone falling out. It looks like the phone will be the brains of the operation, providing storage and 3G connectivity for the tablet (and likely processing, as well). As far as I can tell, the tablet component does little more than provide a larger screen and an auxiliary battery that can be used to charge the phone. The concept is an interesting one, and I can see the appeal for folks who want to be able to easily switch between a smartphone and tablet depending on the task.

In other tablet news, Asus revealed that it will begin shipping the Eee Pad Slider in June. The Slider is similar to the Eee Pad Transformer, but it integrates a keyboard directly into the system rather than having it as a separate accessory. Asus also provided an update on its 7" Eee Pad MeMO, which now has a 3D suffix thanks to the addition of a glasses-free 3D display. The MeMO uses an IPS panel and supports both finger- and stylus-based input. There’s no word on when it’ll ship, though.

Comments closed
    • kyboshed
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2ANnpHnUrc[/url<] — not quite as polished as an apple launch but 10/10 for effort! They need to hire someone new to come up with names, though as padfone is simply hideous...

    • mutarasector
    • 9 years ago

    Seems Asus isn’t the only one unveiling a phonepad hybrid:

    [url<]http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/30/transphone-pairs-tablet-and-handset-emerged-before-asus-padfone/[/url<]

    • mutarasector
    • 9 years ago

    I like the concept. The only question I have is just what functionality does the actual tablet have whenever the phone is undocked? It looks to me as if the tablet is simply yet another dock variant, except that instead of a keyboard/trackpad, this thing has a tablet as a dock to a phone, especially since this thing will only run Ice Cream, and not Honeycomb. In short, this is a glorified charging ‘purse’ for a phone. Neat idea, but not quite what I’m looking for – I think I still prefer a Transformer, or possibly a Slider.

    One thing I do think was a really good idea on Asus’ part: The tablet apparently has both front and rear camera holes positioned for a docked phone to peek through. This provides good measure of protection of smudging or scratching the camera eyes on your phone while using in docked mode.

      • LawrenceofArabia
      • 9 years ago

      Did you miss the part where Ice Cream is supposed to be google’s unified tablet and phone OS, and an upgrade from both honeycomb and gingerbread?

        • bdwilcox
        • 9 years ago

        I really have no idea what the hell you’re both talking about, but you’re making me hungry!

        • mutarasector
        • 9 years ago

        Yes I did. My understanding is that Ice Cream is intended for both phones and tablets, but Honeycomb is developed for tablets only. Ice Cream supposedly will have some Honeycomb features, but my understanding is Honeycomb was supposed to be purely a tablet OS, and you can’t run it on any phones.

    • Majiir Paktu
    • 9 years ago

    I already have a smartphone/tablet hybrid. It’s called a Droid X.

      • provoko
      • 9 years ago

      Yea, mine is called the EVO. 4.3 inch screen is pretty damn good. I’ve seen the 7 inch android mini tablets and the actual tablets, and I don’t see the appeal. I rather just use a laptop that has an actual keyboard.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 9 years ago

        I always see this as a design flaw in tablets, it’s too small to be as mobile as a phone and too big to be as useful as a laptop. It’s a device stuck in no man’s land to me (well outside of specific duties it can perform like a digital clipboard). People seem to love them though (or at least people love iPads).

    • ap70
    • 9 years ago

    Finally someone with brain.
    I don’t understand why these tablets are not able to make phone calls.
    My boss looks like a crazy man with this tablet and phone trying to multi task on the two stupid gadgets.
    Apple, HTC, Motorola alll sleeping when trying to understand what we need.
    If I buy a tablet I want it to replace my phone at times I dont want to use it.

    Congratts ASUS.Going in the right direction!

      • trackerben
      • 9 years ago

      Skype, Viber, Fring etc all work passably as VOIP speakerphone but what the current generation of pads lack is a bluetooth headset profile, which apparently comes only with a full RF package. If such a “padphone” did exist, one would only require a bluetooth headset, or a simpler skypephone-style handset with perfunctory mode controls and display. Of course the pad should mostly be on hand or nearby and this may not be practical in all cases.

      This scenario represents the other end of the usage spectrum from Asus’s but I find this more sensible as I’ve become used to having a pad-size screen pervasively available. A small featurephone, perhaps activated for rollover to capture unanswered calls on the padphone, may have to serve as a back-up for those times when the pad isn’t around or within range. But if so this would mean having on hand two calling plans with redundant synced contacts and batteries – a good thing. As a plus, I could mount the pad in my car and put it to good use for navigation and media, instead of it sitting uselessly in the pack if it were just a dummy screen.

        • albundy
        • 9 years ago

        dont many android pads have usb slots where you can plug in a bluetooth tranceiver thats a quarter size of your pinky nail? getting driver support from the OS is another story, which is why I’m in no rush to get a tablet. they are far from being polished.

          • trackerben
          • 9 years ago

          It’s not just the OS, the bluetooth profiles are disabled in firmware configs so that the mic at least won’t work remotely from the headset. I can confirm this for the iPad wi-fi as I use Viber a lot. The forums have a lot on how Samsung’s pads are just as crippled. The big brands apparently don’t want to displease the carriers by allowing convenient voip bypass of their networks. There are generic Chinese tablets out there with a full BT stack enabled, but discovering which ones work well is an adventure best left to others.

          Edit: My wife’s iPad2 3G has the hands-free profile, and the Sony MW600 headset appears to work fine with it. Guess the future is here, and I’ll need to upgrade…

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]The concept is an interesting one...[/quote<] But not new, it's [url=http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-gadgeteer/what-is-the-palm-foleo/379<]been done before[/url<], although perhaps things have changed enough to make it more useful now. But I think that closing, latching compartment on the back is a mistake; I prefer the idea of a clip-in dock, and I'm sure it could be made secure enough to keep the 'mobile' portion of the device from simply falling out. I also sincerely hope that it's a 'hot-dock' arrangement, as I wouldn't want to have to shut down and/or re-boot either device to switch between them.

      • raddude9
      • 9 years ago

      Huh? This is nothing like the Palm Folio.

      The Folio was a computer in it’s own right, it just got paired to a Palm phone for communication and it synchronised with it.
      This idea is very different, This is just a big screen (and battery) add on for a phone. No need for pairing and synchronisation etc.

        • dpaus
        • 9 years ago

        Well, we’re explicitly talking ‘concept’ here as opposed to ‘specific implementation of the idea’, but I take your point; the Asus Padphone is a different implementation, just as the RIM Playbook is a different implementation of the same concept…

        EDIT: forgot to mention: I think I’d prefer that the connection to the companion device is just WHDI (for the screen) + Bluetooth (for the keyboard). And, if you must, an inductive charging platform (a la Pre). I’d find that a lot ‘cleaner’ than a hidden compartment on the back of the device with a (probably proprietary) physical connector.

          • Palek
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]I think I'd prefer that the connection to the companion device is just WHDI[/quote<] This might be an elegant solution but it would also significantly reduce battery life; high bit-rate wireless technologies are not exactly known for sipping power. It would also add to the cost of the whole product without actually offering a significant usability benefit.

      • designerfx
      • 9 years ago

      the point is specific: converge cellphone, tablet, and desktop (via dock).
      Means the tablet portion can be cheap as hell, since it doesn’t need much, and can also have a consistent dock between table and desktop dock for dualscreen and consistent dock between smartphone/dock for simple thin client dock.

      this is more of “what the future” really looks like.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        The future looks like crap then.

          • dpaus
          • 9 years ago

          Geez, you’re an old fart, aren’t you?

          Imagine a device that’s about the size of the Palm Pre; i.e., easily fits into your pocket, and has the processing power of a high-end i7 CPU, the rendering/gaming power of high-end AMD graphics, and 128/256/whatever GBytes of solid-state storage (which can be synched to ‘somewhere’ – maybe ‘the cloud’, maybe a server at your home). This device will run for 24 – 48 hours on battery alone. In today’s dollars, it’s about $1,000.

          On it’s own, it’s a full-blown smartphone. But you can also use it with Bluetooth mice/keyboards anywhere such devices are available, and with any large-format screen anywhere via WHDI. So anywhere you go – home, office, hotel, wherever – you can have a full-blown workstation/media/gaming system, complete with all your data/content.

          What would be so bad about that?

          No, such a device will not be available this year. Or next. But eventually – say, 3 to 5 years – I think they’re inevitable.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]What would be so bad about that?[/quote<] Well it would still have 5 year old computing hardware in it. Course it would probably put consoles to shame anyways. Also, I think your battery outlook is way too optimistic. I can't even get 15 hours with a 1ghz ARM CPU and you think in 3 years I'm going to get 24 with the equivalent of an i7?

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