If you want a truly transformable mobile device, one does not need to look far from the Asus PadFone.
The Asus PadFone was introduced at last year’s Computex in Taiwan by the always enthusiastic Chairman of Asus, Jonney Shih.
What makes the Asus PadFone unique is that it is a smartphone, tablet, and netbook in one transformable package. I was able to visit the Asus office and get a hands-on on the PadFone.
The PadFone actually comes in three parts, the smartphone, the display, and the keyboard. Everything revolves around the smartphone, which itself is the actual PadFone. It has a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. The display is 4.3″ Super AMOLED at qHD 960×540 resolution. Protecting the display is Corning Gorilla Glass.
If you’re tired of reading your ebooks or watching videos on the PadFone, simply dock the smartphone at the back of the 10.1″ display, which then turns into an Ice Cream Sandwich tablet. One surprising thing to mention is that the tablet is surprisingly lighter than I’d expected. It seem just about the same weight with most of the other Android tablets out in the market. There is no need to configure anything to transform from smartphone to tablet–simply dock it in.
The PadFone automatically adjusts to the 1280×800 resolution screen of the 10.1″ display. It really feels like Asus’ transformer tablet. At the back, you’ll also notice that the tablet uses the smatphone’s rear-facing camera as its own.
The last transformation is as a netbook where a keyboard attaches to the tablet similarly with Asus’ own Transformer series of tablets.
Another interesting thing to note is that all three devices have their own batteries. When the smartphone is docked to the tablet, the battery on the tablet charges the smartphone, as is when the tablet is docked to the keyboard. Asus is saying that the PadFone can last up to 18 hours running on all three batteries.
Taken separately, as a smartphone, tablet, and netbook, each device works great on their own. As a whole system, it works even better. Asus got it right with the seamless transition from one device to another. Performance-wise, with its dual-core processor and Ice Cream Sandwich OS, it is a performer. Playing 720p videos are smooth and the sound is decent. Also included with the PadFone is a Touch Pen that also doubles as a Bluetooth handset. This allows you to answer and make phone calls while the PadFone is still docked in the tablet.
Unfortunately, it seems that Asus will not be selling the PadFone locally. While I had the opportunity to play with it, it is a rather unfortunate that only a few people outside of Asus will get to own one. However, things might change if Asus sees enough demand from enthusiasts and consumers for the Asus PadFone.