- One mobile contract
- Well built
- Utilitarian design
Review Price to be confirmed
While the world will have to wait until February for the Padfone to be officially launched in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress show, we secured some hands-on time with the device (devices?) and can report back that the conceptual product is every bit as intriguing as the initial announcement suggested in May of last year.
The phone itself is an Android handset with a 4.3in screen that docks - rather securely, we should add - with a 10.1in tablet. The software we saw was not the final version, but we would assume that it will run Ice Cream Sandwich, which is being rolled out to Transformer and Transformer Prime owners on Thursday.
While ostensibly a dock, the phone's UI on the 10.1 in screen works well. The screen itself is sharp and crisp, with excellent viewing angles, and the interface is responsive, although we can not offer a final verdict until the release of the finished version.
The phone feels reasonably sturdy when docked, with both the microHMDI and microUSB hooking up in the dock. When closed, to the uninitiated the tablet looks little different from your garden variety 10.1 inch tablet - it's just a bit chunky.
Sadly, it also feels less premium than other recent tablets, falling someway short of Asus' own Tranformer Prime for instance. Nonetheless, there's plenty enough quality here that you wouldn't feel too short changed, and certainly we're looking forward to seeing in its full glory when it is unveiled next month.
One additional benefit of the Padphone is that users only need one mobile contract for both devices, something network providers will be emphasising when they team up with the Taiwanese manufacturer.
There is no word on pricing yet but the company did confirm a 2012 launch date.
The Asus Padfone is perhaps the hybrid product many wavering tablet buyers were holding out for and the appeal of a one-contract, versatile device will lure many away from watching movies on their phone while offering them a degree of portable computing. While it lacks the appeal of the Transformer, it's another innovative product from the manufacturer which hints at more innovation into 2012.