Asus has unveiled a prototype hybrid mobile computer that marries a 4-inch Android smartphone and 10-inch tablet display for tasks requiring a larger screen.
The hybrid — known as the Padfone — essentially sees the tablet device acting as a 'dumb', processor-less display for the smartphone. It does, however, include a front-facing camera for video calling.
The handset component of the combo device, shown off at Computex 2011 in Taipei on Monday, docks neatly inside the rear of the tablet section, resulting in a slight bulge at the back. Once docked, data connectivity and internal storage space are provided by the handset.
Asus pitched the prototype Padfone as the best of both worlds, allowing users to quickly switch between screen sizes and choose whether they need to carry one or both components around with them. It also allows both devices a 3G data connection from just one mobile data contract. However, the tablet cannot be used without the phone.
If the device ever reaches the production line, it will arrive running the Android operating system, but it is unknown which version it would run. The next release of the mobile OS is set to be Ice Cream Sandwich. Few other technical details of the device were revealed at the Padfone's introduction during Computex.
Images of the prototype suggest that the handset will most likely arrive with a 5-megapixel camera at the rear.
The prototype is the latest in a variety of new form factors manufacturers are experimenting with for mobile and tablet devices.
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