Asus has released a couple of 17-second video teasers (below) for the expected launch of its innovative Padfone, and what appears to be a high-resolution Android tablet. Both devices will be unveiled on Monday, 27 February, at the Mobile World Congress 2012 exhibition.
Asus has been showing the Padfone as a "concept" since last March's Computex 2011 trade show in its home country, Taiwan. However, the video teaser suggests the concept has been expanded.
The Padfone idea is that you can slot your Asus phone, running Google Android, into a 10-inch tablet. This gives you two devices but you only need one mobile phone contract, and you don't have to worry about synchronising data. Also, the tablet part includes its own battery, which will recharge the phone.
It seems Asus has taken the idea further in the past year. The teaser below, called "Divided We Stand. Together We Rock", uses three Russian dolls (Matryoshka) to say "1 + 1 + 1". This suggests that the Padfone tablet has sprouted the connections to fit the Asus keyboard dock that is used for Asus's Transformer TF-101 and Transformer Prime.
The Transformer is basically an Android tablet but it slots into a separate (optional) keyboard to provide a system that is indistinguishable from a laptop. The keyboard dock also includes its own battery, which can recharge the tablet. This gives you at least 50 percent more battery life than an Apple iPad 2, plus the benefits of being able to type on a real physical keyboard.
The idea of using multi-function computing modules goes back decades, and looked attractive in the days when processing power (CPU, RAM, storage etc) was extremely expensive. Indeed, ten years ago, I toyed with a Toshiba e740 Pocket PC that could double as a PC.
The e740 was a touch-screen PDA running Microsoft Windows CE on an Intel ARM chip, which was pretty common at the time. However, you could plug it into a VGA monitor, and add a PC keyboard via a £25 expansion model. And as I wrote at the time: "If the Pocket version of Microsoft Office is not enough, you can run any Windows 9x/NT/XP programs you like by using a Remote Desktop Protocol [RDP] connection to an NT server. Do you still need a desktop PC?"
Today, users are profligate with compute power: it's so cheap, they don't have to care. But having a single system that includes a mobile phone, a tablet and a laptop, with very long, highly integrated battery life, could do a decent amount of business.
And at least it's not just another Android phone/tablet clone.
ASUS MWC 2012 Teaser video I: Divided We Stand. Together We Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz9tHiQS2uk
ASUS MWC 2012 Teaser video II: Twice The Detail, Twice The Fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81FDcFtPZqs Suggests a high-definition display….
ASUS Padfone mockup hands-on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG1TaKb3okQ