If 2012 is indeed the “Year of Mobility,” then I suppose this was inevitable. Asus, a Taiwanese manufacturer, has unveiled its newest super-toy (or, depending on your position, super-tool), a sometimes-phone, sometimes-tablet, sometimes-laptop.
The PadFone (get it — it’s an iPad and a phone!) was shown off earlier this week at the big Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona and, predictably, caused quite a stir.
Mashable ran an infographic last year showing the evolution of the smartphone from behemoth to Apple’s iPhone4S, and Asus’ new Swiss army knife of a phone would seem to occupy some place in the next phase of cell phone evolution.
Computerworld’s JR Raphael has more details on how the phone/tablet/laptop combo works. The phone part of the PadFone (which runs Android) is a 4.3-inch device with an HD display and anywhere from 16 to 64 GBs of storage. To transform the device into a touchscreen tablet, users can plug the phone into a pouch on the back of the PadFone Station, essentially giving the phone a 10-inch display and a battery boost.
But wait, there’s more! If users need to use a full keyboard, say, for data-input in the field, they can plug the now-tablet into a wireless keyboard, turning the entire conglomeration into a sort-of laptop, similar to Asus’ Transformer Prime product (not Optimus Prime).
With all the rage around smartphones and tablets in enterprise tech circles, we wonder whether the PadFone might find itself a little niche. It’ll hit shelves in April 2012, though no word yet on how much the device(s) will cost.