Hands-On with the ASUS PadFone All-In-One Laptop Tablet Smartphone

Maybe not on its own, but with a little help from its accessory friends, the ASUS PadFone unveiled today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona can really be all three of those things.

The ASUS PadFone, by itself, is a 4.3” smartphone with a Pentile Super AMOLED HD display made of contoured Corning Gorilla Glass, like the HTC One series’ displays. The specs are up to snuff with the rest of the high-end smartphones announced at MWC this year – a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and an 8 MP, F/2.2 aperture camera with auto-focus, LED flash, and a Fuji image processor. 42 Mbps HSPA+ speeds are optional, and the phone comes in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models, all of which have 1 GB of LPDDR2 RAM. There is also a Micro SD card slot for as much as 32 extra GB of storage. The PadFone includes a 1520 mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility, and a Micro USB 2.0 port.

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The fun part comes when you buy the ASUS PadFone Station and ASUS PadFone Station Dock. The former is a tablet shell with a 10.1” 1280 x 800 resolution display, also made of Gorilla Glass. The PadFone actually gets inserted into the Station, which brings the tablet to life. All of the activity and data on the smartphone is immediately accessible in tablet form, and any work done while in tablet mode is saved to the smartphone once you eject the smartphone from the case on the back. The whole unit is smoothly presented, so there isn’t an unseemly bulge on the back of tablet when the smartphone is docked in the Station. In addition to using the PadFone’s 8 MP camera, the Station features a 1.3 MP front-facing camera.

The Station Dock takes the PadFone into laptop mode. The Dock is a keyboard that the tablet can be inserted into, to form a 10.1” notebook. The dock has its own Micro SD card slot and USB port. And, while we’re on the topic of transformers, the PadFone comes with a stylus pen that converts into a Bluetooth headset when you need to receive calls.

Time will tell if consumers are willing to go for the three-in-one gambit being presented by ASUS, but, if nothing else, this is one of the most inspired pieces of tech design I’ve seen in a while. As of right now, pricing and availability for the ASUS PadFone, Station, and Station Dock are unknown.


Chance Kinney Contributed to this Report

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