Honing his inner Steve Jobs, Asus chairman Jonney Shih waited until last minute of their press conference at Computex 2011 to unveil the companies next big thing. Or things. Or two things in one, the Padfone.
The Padfone is Asus' vision of the unholy marriage between a smartphone and a tablet device. The smartphone docks, or connects, or assimilates into the tablet body, becoming the heart of the new device. It's very similar to the Motorola Atrix, except that the Atrix is essentially a docking station for the phone, and runs a different OS than the phone. Both the smartphone and the tablet docking station would come together in one purchase.
The tablet portion of Padfone seems to act as a shell for the phone, with no memory or internal components of its own. Once the smartphone is inserted like a casette tape, the device adjusts the screen size to accomodate the 10.1" screen of the tablet. Asus claims there is no upscaling or up-conversion going on. However, it seems like this is the equivalent of attaching a larger monitor to your laptop, except the laptop would fit inside of the monitor.
All that is known is the device will run whatever the latest version of Android is at the time of release, the phone will be able to be charged by the battery in the tablet housing while docked, and it will be available later this year.
While this idea seems like it could be the future of tablet computing, Asus' demonstration left much to be desired. There were no hands-on demonstrations and all that was shown were a few concept videos along with a clearly unfinished prototype. It doesn't seem very smart to announce a product that is this far out from release. People can only be disappointed.
Also, the legitimacy of a market for this kind of device is debatable. There is no way Apple is considering this sort of device. They would have to cannibalize one of their sacred devices, either the iPhone or iPad.
For now, there clearly seems to be a market for both tablets, and smartphones. There is definitely room for convergence between the two devices, but announcing a product like this without a release date, basic specs, and a price point does nothing to legitimize its existence. All it will do is raise questions. Questions Asus obviously isn't ready to answer.
Source: PC Mag