Asus at CES: AT&T gets PadFone, VivoTab attacks Samsung, and ZenFone unveiled

Here’s our full Asus PadFone X review.

You can call Asus crazy, but you can’t call it a coward. Today at CES, the Taiwanese computer company unveiled a bold new lineup of phones, tablets, and phones that want to be tablets. We’ve laid out the three major announcements below.

America, we’re getting the PadFone

padfone-xIf you’ve followed the latest mobile endeavors of Asus, you’re likely aware of the PadFone, the firm’s unusual mashup of tablet and smartphone. However, despite vague promises in the past, the PadFone and its sequels has never been released through a network in America. Clearly, none of them were brave enough to pick up such a quirky piece of hardware. That is, until now, as Asus has convinced AT&T to take on the latest iteration, the PadFone X.

The PadFone X package consists of a 5-inch smartphone and a 9-inch tablet, where the phone acts as the tablet’s brain when it’s slotted into it, just like a dock. Both screens have a 1080p resolution, and apps running on the phone appear on the tablet’s display when they come together. Once the phone is in place, the tablet’s battery pack not only takes over, but charges the phone’s battery, too.

There’s a considerable benefit to the customer of using a smartphone and tablet combination in this way, as two devices share the same data plan. Of course, the overall cost of the PadFone itself is high, but you do get two devices in one, and the brushed metal frame should make it feel like a premium setup. In the past it has worked out cheaper than buying a phone and tablet separately, with a data plan on both.

We’re waiting for confirmation of the phone’s complete specs, such as the processor, which will be confirmed shortly after the CES 2014 press event. If it’s anything like the PadFone Infinity, expect a Snapdragon 800 chip, and another 13-megapixel PixelMaster camera. Asus loves to tinker with the PadFone, and the PadFone X is the third full-size version announced in the past year, alongside the smaller PadFone Mini.

Will AT&T’s PadFone gamble pay off for both companies, or is there a good reason why no-one else has ever taken it on? Only time will tell.

Asus lays it on Samsung with the VivoTab Note 8

asus-vivotab-note-8In an attempt to steal some of the thunder Samsung has built with its successful line of ‘Note’ tablets and phablets, Asus showed off the VivoTab Note 8, a Windows 8.1 tablet with a Wacom screen and built-in stylus. Running Windows 8 is as much a curse as a blessing, but we’re excited to see it using Wacom tech, which allows for much more precise pen interaction than you’re use to. Samsung has integrated it into its Note 8.0, Note 3, and Note 10.1 2014 Edition, and the level of precision it offers sets those tablets apart from others with styli.

On the inside, the VivoTab Note 8 will have an 8-inch 1280 x 800 pixel IPS LCD screen, run on an Intel Atom Z3740 processor, have a 5-megapixel rear camera with ‘HD webcam, have 2GB of RAM, and come loaded with (up to) 64GB of memory for storing documents or files. The Wacom screen offers about 1,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is comparable to Samsung’s Note products.

ZenFone is Asus’s first standalone Android phone

zenfone-4Asus has released Android phones before, but only the PadFone – a phone that plug into a tablet – or the dreaded FonePad, which was a full-fledged 7-inch tablet that happened to also work as a phone. Now, with the ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5, and ZenFone 6, it’s done beating around the bush. The ZenFones range in size from iPhone-sized to phablet, and each run on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and dual-core Intel Atom processors. The specs seem decent, though the petite ZenFone 4 has a lower-resolution 800 x 480 pixel TFT LCD screen and the ZenFone 6 has an impressive 13-megapixel camera. All 3 come in a simple color palette and Asus promises an upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat at some point.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Apple iPad Pro 11 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: Which top-tier tablet reigns supreme?

If you're in the market for a new tablet and you want something that can double up as a laptop in a pinch, then you owe it to yourself to check out the 11-inch Apple iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. We compare the two here.
Deals

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.
Product Review

It's not the sharpest tool, but the Surface Go does it all for $400

Microsoft has launched the $400 Surface Go to take on both the iPad and Chromebooks, all without compromising its core focus on productivity. Does it work as both a tablet and a PC?
Deals

REI clearance sale extends discounts on Garmin, Fitbit, and GoPro devices

Beyond the things you typically expect to find at REI — like tents, skis, and jackets — there are tons of great deals on quality tech foryour outdoor adventures. From smartwatches to action cameras, here are the best tech deals.
Mobile

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.
Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.
Social Media

#ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week

Not getting your hashtag fill with #ThrowbackThursday or #ManCrushMonday? Here's a list of some of the more popular Instagram hashtags, so you can outfit your next post with the proper tag, regardless of what day it is.
Mobile

Protect your new iPhone with one of our favorite iPhone XR cases

Apple's new iPhone range is the toast of 2018, with beautiful style and more power than you can shake a stick at. But beauty can often be fragile -- keep the damage to a minimum with the best iPhone XR cases.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.1.1 makes it easier to switch cameras in FaceTime

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

5G Coverage

Curious about 5G and what it means for you? Well here is our awesome one stop shop for all things 5g.
Mobile

The Galaxy A8s is Samsung's first with a hole-punch camera cutout

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.
Mobile

Looking for flexible and inexpensive phone service? Check out our favorite MVNOs

Looking to switch from a major carrier to something a little more affordable? Luckily, there are a ton of great MVNO options to choose from. Check out our guide to the best MVNOs, from Boost Mobile to Google Fi.