When you look at what's hot and what's not in today's mobile computing market, you'd probably come to the conclusion that smartphones and tablets are on the hot side of things. Tablets mainly thanks to Apple's iPad, smartphones because if the iPhone and Android. Windows Phone will surely snag a bit of market share as well in the coming years away from the two heavyweights thanks to Microsoft's cooperation with Finnish company Nokia.
When you look at the devices that are offered to you, you do not really see a lot of uniqueness. Sure, you get a different version of iOS or Android with your tablet or phone, but feature-wise, they do not really differ that much from each other anymore.
Asus' PadFone tries to change that by merging a smartphone with a tablet. How does it work? The base unit is the phone running an Android 4.0 operating system. You can use that phone like any other Android phone that you may have worked with in the past. Install apps, take pictures, make and receive calls, listen to music, and all that other fancy stuff that people do nowadays with their phones.
When you need more screen estate, you can insert the phone into the docking station to use the station's bigger screen instead. That's useful in class or during presentations for instance, or anywhere else where you need access to a bigger screen. The screen is powered by the phone, and all of your phone's data becomes available on that screen as well.
This is a fairly interesting option, at least for some users who like to be more flexible in this regard, especially since it ships with a stylus and an optional full-qwerty keyboard dock for those who'd like more writing comfort.
The best way to see how this works in reality is to watch this video. Keep in mind that it is a commercial by Asus. It is still great for seeing how the mechanics works.
The station offers a 10.1 inches multi-touch display that is good for a 1280x800 WXGA resolution. It packs its own battery, and a 1.3 MP camera on the front. Since it is using the phone's computing power and features, it can be used for pretty much the same things that you use your phone for.
A core benefit of merging the Padfone with its station is an increase in battery. According to Asus, battery life may be five times as much for the phone when it is in the station, and nine times as much if the keyboard dock is also connected. The gain depends on a number of factors, and it is likely that the majority of users will see a smaller gain.
Here is a hands on video
I cannot really say how well it works as I did not have the chance to play around with the device. The idea sounds interesting though, and if Asus gets the price right, it can certainly become a popular device on today's saturated market.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.