Asus unveils smartphone-tablet combo, the Padfone

By on May 30, 2011, 2:00 PM

Asus has unveiled a range of new products at the Computex 2011 trade show in Taipei, including notebooks, netbooks and a curious tablet device that houses with a 4.3-inch phone on the back. Dubbed Padfone, the latter is somewhat similar in concept to the Motorola Atrix, except you dock your phone with a tablet instead of laptop.

Details are scarce at the moment but we know the tablet shell is fully powered by the smartphone, and as such it will allow users to access all the phone's features on the larger 10.1-inch screen of the tablet as soon as it is inserted. Asus says the tablet will display content in its native resolution as opposed to simply upscaling the smartphone's display. It will also feature an extended battery and an I/O extender that will allow other devices to communicate with the phone.

The modular system means Asus could introduce other docking solutions to its ecosystem down the road, all powered by the smartphone while keeping a single data plan for connectivity -- that is of course unless carriers have a say in it, which is possible seeing how AT&T requires a paid tethering plan for using the Atrix 4G with the laptop dock.

Besides sharing one SIM card for 3G access, storage will also be shared across both devices. It's unclear which flavor of Android will power the hybrid device. Although during the company's Computex presentation, Chairman Jonney Shih was showing off a Honeycomb tablet, it's possible the device will end up running the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich release, which will finally unify the Android user experience for smartphones and tablets.

There aren’t any pricing details yet either as Asus is aiming for a release towards the end of this year. In the meantime, you can watch Asus' promotional video for the Padfone above and another one discussing the device's design process.

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