The smartphone-tablet-netbook hybrid instantly made history, picking up Best Tablet in the first annual Mobot Mobies, but now we’re wondering: will anyone actually buy the blasted thing?
Firstly, what the hell is the Asus PadFone? Asus Chairman Jonney Shih explains: "The time has finally arrived when every screen in your lives could transcend into a portal with real time access into your digital world." Uhm, ok.
Asus has clearly been thinking outside the proverbial box with this one. In fact, it’s so far outside the box, the box is a dot to Asus.
The main component is the PadFone itself, a 4.3in smartphone with a Super AMOLED display, dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 8MP camera and Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0).
Not too shabby. But that’s just for starters.
There’s also what Asus describes as the “optional” PadFone Station, which makes us think it might be available separately, a bit like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime’s keyboards.
Anyways, the PadFone Station is essentially a tablet shell with a 10.1in display. The most important thing to note about the PadFone Station is that it doesn’t function independently; you need to shove the Asus PadFone inside for it to spring to life.
Like the aforementioned Transformer tablets, you can also shove the PadFone Station in a keyboard dock to transform it into a netbook. And, the stylus can be used as a Bluetooth headset for answering calls.
My main gripe with the setup is that using the tablet means sacrificing your phone. But, having said that, I’m hard pushed to think of a scenario where you might want to use both simultaneously. Hmm…
The other major factor is, of course, the Asus PadFone’s price. Yesterday we heard a rather wild estimate of £699.98, but there were whispers from the Mobile World Congress stand that the smartphone and tablet components together might come for as little as £450.
Separately, you’d expect to pay – what? – maybe £350-400 for a high-end dual-core smartphone, and probably a further £400 for a tablet. But again: the PadFone Station doesn’t work on its own.
It’s difficult to say exactly how much that’d knock off the price, as the PadFone Station obviously still has a display, touchscreen and battery, three of the most expensive components in a tablet. However, all the networky stuff is handled by the PadFone.
We’re thinking – and indeed hoping – that the £699.98 estimate is way off the mark. For my money, I’d rather buy a Samsung Galaxy S II (£383.49 on Amazon at the time of writing) and a 16GB iPad 2 for £329. That’d be £712.49 total. Even if the keyboard dock were included at £699.98, we still reckon that’s too expensive.
Ooh, this just in from the horse's mouth: “ASUS is yet to announce pricing and availability of the ground-breaking and shape-shifting PadFone - anything to the contrary is merely rumours and speculation.
“We will be announcing details with our carrier partners in due course, so keep an eye out for updates on the official ASUS website and social media pages for more information as and when it is available."
What do you think, Mobotniks? How much would you pay for an Asus PadFone? And does the tablet shell idea appeal? As Jan pointed out yesterday, if the phone breaks, the tablet is rendered useless. Food for thought…