Asus really hit the jackpot with its Transformer design, so much so that most of the upcoming Windows 8 convertible Ultrabooks will be taking the same route. The idea was simple and yet practical, but it seems like the folks at Asus R&D wanted to see how far they could go with this concept. We give you the Padfone — an Android smartphone that can transform into a tablet and further more, a notebook. Asus recently made this contraption official in India and it’s by far the most expensive and unique Android smartphone out there.
At the heart of it all is the phone itself. A slim and light handset with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display and a gorilla glass protecting the front. The phone is very well designed and looks a lot like the 4th Gen iPod Touch from the front. Beating inside is a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm SoC based on the new ‘Krait’ architecture, so it certainly packs a punch.
The transformation takes place when you slip the phone into the tablet as or Padfone Station and boom! — you now have a tablet. The station packs in a 10.1-inch HD display with a front facing 1.3MP camera. The rear camera is of the phone itself, which is an 8MP shooter capable of Full HD video recording.
The station also packs in a battery, which charges the phone when docked. You also have a third accessory, the keyboard dock, which now makes it into a notebook. The keyboard adds an additional battery pack to charge the Padfone Station as well as expands the phones functionality with two USB 2.0 ports and a card reader.
Asus also ships a funky looking stylus, along with it, which also doubles up as Bluetooth headset if you need to make a call in tablet or notebook mode. While it’s truly wonderful how one product gives you the experience of three different devices, it has made the Padfone rather bulky. The phone itself is slim but carrying around the rest of the accessories can be a chore. Once docked in, you get the full Android tablet experience as the apps automatically scale to the larger screen. One annoyance we had was that most of the apps and settings would reset to their defaults every time you docked it into the station.
The display produces deep blacks but we felt the colours were a bit too saturated and didn’t look natural. Audio and video playback is good and the Padfone easily handles 1080p video. The 8MP camera captures pretty good photos, even in low light. Android 4.0 can get a little laggy at times, but hopefully an update to Jelly Bean should fix it.
At Rs65,000 for the entire kit, the Asus Padfone is quite expensive and will only appeal to a niche audience. Still, we have to give props to Asus for at least thinking out of the box.