Asus has been one of the leaders in innovative tablet designs. We were saddened that it did not announce any new products at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but it looks like Feb. 26 or 27 may be its time to shine. Asus has confirmed with MoDaCo (via PocketNow) that it intends to unveil a newly designed PadPhone tablet + phone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Much like the concept of the Motorola Atrix + Laptop Dock, the padphone is essentially a 10.1-inch tablet that has a slot for a 4.3-inch Asus smartphone to plug into it. Once the phone is snapped in, it provides the processing power for the tablet, which gives it a charge in return. This concept would allow Asus to manufacture the actual tablet shell for much less than a standard tablet, since it only needs a screen and battery inside it. The processor, which is rumored to be a new Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, and other components all come from the phone. If executed correctly, it also means that users don’t have to worry about syncing up devices because everything would be saved on their smartphone. This redesigned model can also snap into Asus’s Transformer Prime keyboard dock as well, which extends functionality yet again.
The newest version of the PadFone runs Android 4.0, which has us wondering if Asus has bundled a custom tablet interface with it (ala Motorola’s Laptop Dock “Webtop” interface) or if Android 4.0 is capable of scaling itself to a larger resolution if docked into something. We’ve speculated that it is capable of this feature, which would mean that your Android smartphone would instantly look like an Android 4.0 tablet if docked into a larger screen. Supposedly, nothing would be lost in the transition. It also means that if you run out of battery power, you can always turn your phone into a tablet for a while.
The real question here is how cheap it’s all going to be. Cost has been one of the major issues with Motorola’s attempt at docking phones to laptops. The PadFone is already somewhat expensive since you have to buy the phone and the tablet to really make use of it. If the phone costs $200-$300 (and hopefully it has LTE), then we can’t imagine people wanting to pay more than $100-$150 for the dock. Especially since they may have to buy a keyboard dock as well, which runs $150.
The video below shows a brief glimpse at the front of the new PadFone, which was first announced at Computex last year. The woman in the video is quite enthusiastic about the device, though she fails to show us how it snaps in the back or the tablet interface. Hopefully her enthusiasm is warranted. We’ll let you know when we check out the device at MWC on Feb. 27.