Asus is looking to become a major player in the smartphone market, and it's reportedly in talks with Microsoft to make Windows-based handsets. The Wall Street Journal quotes Asus Vice President of Mobile Communicaton Products Benson Lin as saying the firm is interested in making Windows phones—and that its PadFone hybrid is a particularly good fit for Win8.
Introduced in 2011 and updated this year, the PadFone consists of an ARM-based smartphone that plugs into the back of a 10" tablet. The smartphone handles all the processing for the tablet, which provides a larger screen and an auxiliary battery. The first-generation PadFone also had a keyboard dock with a touchpad, dual USB ports, an SD reader, and another battery. Triple-changing Transformer, anyone?
While perhaps not the best tool for every job, there is some appeal to having a single device serve as the brain for one's smartphone, tablet, and notebook. The prospect becomes even more tantalizing when one considers that Intel's x86-compatible Atom SoCs could allow a PadFone variant to run the full-fat version of Windows 8 along with all your favorite desktop applicatons. As the horsepower available in smartphone chips increases, so does the potential of such a system.
As the WSJ points out, Asus doesn't have much of a presence in the US smartphone market. However, the firm is in talks with carriers to bring its handsets stateside by next year. While Asus will no doubt face stiff challenges from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and others, the PadFone gives it something unique to offer in a sea of increasingly me-too devices.