Second-gen PadFone raises prospect of smartphone-powered systems

Asus’ PadFone is a curious beast. It’s basically a smartphone that can be plugged into a tablet when you’re craving a larger screen. The tablet portion contains an auxiliary battery that can charge the smartphone, but there isn’t much else to it—the handset is the brains behind the operation. Asus revealed the first-gen PadFone last May, and its successor will be unveiled in October, according to an invitation received by Notebook Italia.

The invitation doesn’t provide any hints about the device, but the new model is expected to feature a quad-core Snapdragon S4 SoC from Qualcomm. With that sort of grunt, the PadFone 2 would be well-equipped to power a tablet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Asus riff off the Motorola Atrix and provide a Transformer-style keyboard dock, as well. Imagine, if you will, a Voltronesque device capable of combining keyboard, tablet, and smartphone elements.

Such a device may not be in the cards, but it raises an interesting question about the viability of using smartphones to drive larger systems. The latest SoCs seem powerful enough for the task, and there are benefits to having one’s smartphone—and the data and applications it houses—tied to a larger screen and a proper keyboard. At the same time, however, the prevalence of cloud storage options makes it much easier to switch between multiple standalone devices.

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    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    Yup, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Foleo<]brilliantly original idea[/url<]

      • mutarasector
      • 7 years ago

      Except that the Foleo (aka “Fooleo” by critics) didn’t dock to a Touch tablet. Now if Padphone2 also has transformer dock capability, that might be a slightly closer comparison, but even then Foleo didn’t have a touchUI either.

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        All very true, I just find myself chuckling every time a manufacturer proposes a purpose-specific, netbook-like device as a companion to their smartphone and act like they thought of the concept.

          • mutarasector
          • 7 years ago

          I see your point. I just see Asus in ‘speciation’ mode and to some degree, out innovating Apple, but outside of us tech geek circles, the world knows very little about it or them. Although, Samsung does seem to be taking more and more cues from them these days.

          Personally, I’d be real impressed if Asus did a triple hybrid design of their Taichi, but instead of a half assed touchpad implementation in it, simply design a slide in dock bay so one of their phones could slide in it and be used as the Taichi’s touchpad while automatically syncing to the Taichi itself, and even be recharged off the Taichi’s battery.

    • RhysAndrews
    • 7 years ago

    It has always been my dream to have a portable device that is powerful enough to act as a laptop/desktop so long as the peripherals are connected to it. However, I don’t think a mobile phone is the best choice for this. A mobile phone should always be in your pocket or handbag, not mounted in a docking station in your office or stuck in your tablet – mobile phones should be almost exclusively for communication and reference, then you get your tablet out to do work or play games.

    Instead, I think the tablet should be your work computer. The microsoft surface got me excited – all we need now is a port replicator type docking station for your the surface. Plug your keyboard, mouse, monitor, ethernet, etc into the port replicator, then when you get home, connect your surface and you have a full fledged desktop computer. Later on, some technologies should be implemented such that docking a surface is enough to tap into a station’s RAM, graphics, possibly even CPU capabilities without having to restart or boot into anything.

    And what of people who need powerhouses? High end video cards, humungous amounts of RAM for music or video editing, etc? Mac’s “target disk mode” comes to mind – imagine if the Surface’s system could become bootable via USB to a desktop computer with a few taps on the screen? So long as Windows 8 were capable of adapting to any system hardware without weird driver conflicts, etc, like Mac OS X can, then this would complete the setup for me.

    This, to me, is where Windows 8 will shine. Particularly for the non-ARM version of the Surface. Finally, an operating system that can operate as a mobile phone, tablet, or PC. There are some sacrifices that Microsoft had to make with Windows 8 that they probably knew we’d all hate, but I think it will make sense in time.

    • cynan
    • 7 years ago

    I think this is a pretty good idea. As mentioned, the issue with the tablet/laptop combos is an OS that is good at both mobile and primary computing functionality. The smartphone/tablet combo avoids this.

    The one catch is that the tablet accessory has to be significantly cheaper than competing entire tablets for it to be successful. Otherwise, I can’t help but thinking the majority of customers will just end up thinking “I may as well get a second fully functional device for the same money”. With products like the Nexus tablet and the new Amazon tablets, this will be difficult to achieve.

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    I posted this in a different article, but I think the best thing for phone docks would be the ability to plug your phone into a large 27″ display via a single docking cable, that branches out into Ethernet, USB 3, thunderbolt, and whatever else you migh need, so you could charge your phone, and have it drive a large display with a keyboard, mouse, auxiliary storage and wired Internet. Given the advance of wireless charging, eventually you wouldn’t even need to plug your phone in, just place it upon a charging pad connected to this display and you’re all set

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    lol the first padfone already had a keyboard (no idea why would anyone think it didn’t) but it had too many problems,design and price wise.
    Even if they fix the way the phone is docked and the size and weight of each device, i highly doubt that Asus won’t keep it’s pricing for the tablet and keyboard way too high.
    Anyway, the device has plenty of room to be much better than the first version so one can only hope.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    Phone -> Tablet -> Laptop That would be a near-perfect device. I’m tired of tweaking 3 devices and synch’ing them.

    The only issue I see is there is no OS that I know of that is universally good at all three aspects. I say Unity on Ubuntu is close, but most people are not a fan of it (much to the suprise of my wife). Personally, I think a device like this is the perfect device for that Android+Ubuntu project, solving what I feel is the core issue of a device like this.

    Edit: link [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_for_Android[/url<]

      • obarthelemy
      • 7 years ago

      I find myself often using these 2 or 3 devices at the same time. Especially when I’m on my screen-impaired laptop (it has only one screen !). Both my Tablet and Phablet have nice charging docks at home, and lightweight travel docks.

      In theory, traveling lighter sounds nice. In practice, it’s not the actual devices that I resent carrying, but the attendant paraphernalia. Must get a modular charger that does laptop+tablet+phone.

      • DragonDaddyBear
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t think the Padaphone running Ubuntu will come to light. Perhaps my dream rests in the arms, errr, tablet/monitor/keboard of the NexPhone? [url<]http://www.indiegogo.com/nexphone[/url<]

      • effay
      • 7 years ago

      Agree. There’s no need to put a separate computer in each screen when you can power them all with the one in your pocket.

      I actually have an Atrix and thought Motorola’s Lapdock idea was genius. The problem was the dock was overpriced and the Tegra 2 doesn’t have enough power to pull it off.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      If you could get latency down and the OS right, tablets, phones, TVs, and monitors could all essentially serve as a thin client for your home desktop/laptop/console.

      As for out of the home, if a dual core haswell can squeeze in under 10W with a very low idle power draw ,then I think it’ll be to possible stuff a downclocked, single core broadwell CPU (haswell’s die shrink) into something the size of a phone. ARMv8 might offer comparable or better performance, but with x86 legacy compatibility, I think I could live with a single core, ~1ghz+ broadwell chip in a phone as a laptop replacement.

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