Showing posts with label ASUS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ASUS. Show all posts

New promo video for ASUS N-Series Notebooks makes us want to hug it out

Nothing stokes the emotional coals like slow-mo drops of water and orchestral strings. That's at least what the team behind this ASUS promo video seem to think. Amidst the melodrama there are actually a few new nuggets of info about the rained-on N-series Notebook. There's "SonicMaster Premium" sound from Bang and Olufsen on board, which the firm claims should please the pickiest of ears, and full HD wide-view screens. A backlit keyboard and fancy touch pad are also shown off, with the latter matching the aspect ratio of the screen for "intuitive control." The claimed (up to) two-week standby time should please the infrequent user, while the impatient will like the two second wake-up time. Whether it'll have Oscar-winning performance to match the video, however, is yet to be known.
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ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 review

It doesn't feel like a year has passed since we reviewed the original ASUS Transformer and its innovative keyboard dock, but indeed time flies, and quite a bit has happened since then. The company has released the Prime, for starters, followed by two other high-end models. And now, the OG Transformer is going the way of the dodo, as the affordable new Transformer Pad 300 (aka the TF300) takes its place. Though this newest tablet was announced back in February, it's only just going on sale in the US this week, starting at $379 for the 16GB version, and $399 for one with 32GB of built-in storage.
In addition to the fact that this replaces a truly memorable product, the TF300 is intriguing because it represents an even better deal for consumers: it borrows some design cues from the higher-end Prime, and also steps up to a similar 8-megapixel camera. Like the Prime, too, it runs an unskinned version of Android 4.0 and packs a quad-core Tegra 3 chip -- something you don't often see in a tablet this price. In short, the main differences between this and the Prime are battery life (10 hours versus 12), and the quality of the display (the 10-inch screen here offers 350 nits of brightness instead of 600). Those allsound like reasonable trade-offs and, frankly, they are. That's our abridged review, over and done with in just two paragraphs, but meet us past the break if you're craving a little more detail.

Think of it as a watered-down Prime.

Think of it as a watered-down Prime. Make no mistake: the TF300 shares some overarching design language with the original, so even now that there are several Transformers on the market the lineup still feels cohesive. Even so, with a starting price at $379, the company naturally chose to hold back some of the flourishes that make the Prime worth the premium. After all, ASUS needs to give you some reason to splurge on the top-shelf model, right?
For starters, that spun back is now made of plastic, not metal, so although it looks like the Prime andZenbook line, the build quality isn't quite as impeccable. Meanwhile, the body itself has widened to .38 inches (9.7mm), up from .33 (8.4mm) on the Prime. As for weight, the TF300 tips the scales at 1.39 pounds, compared with 1.28 for the original. None of that's saying much, though: even with those dimensions, the TF300 manages to be slimmer than the new Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Acer Iconia Tab A200, two similarly priced tablets that measure .41 and .49 inches thick, respectively.
As for weight, the TF300 is heavier than the 1.29-pound Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and its big brother, the Prime. For what it's worth, though, it offers roughly the same runtime as the A200, which weighs a fifth of a pound more. We haven't yet tested the second-gen 10.1, so we can't yet speak to its battery life, but suffice to say its lighter weight won't be such a boon if the battery inside can't last as long as some of its heftier competitors.
So what do all of these stats amount to? A damn good mid-range tablet, we say. No, this isn't as rock-solid or tantalizing slim as the Prime, but if you were willing to spend $500 on a tablet, you would have already, ya know? Compared to the $399 Tab 2 10.1 and $350 A200, the total package here is slightly more sophisticated, though we've also got kind things to say about the muted finish on the 10.1, and the non-slip backing on the A200. Oh, speaking of sophisticated, the tablet we tested had a dark blue backing, and that's indeed the version you'll see on sale starting this week. Eventually, it'll also be available in more playful red and white hues, but you'll have to wait until June for those to hit shelves.
Before we move on to how the tablet actually performs, let's take a short tour around the device, shall we? 'Round back, of course, you'll find that 8-megapixel auto-focusing camera, paired with a 1.2-megapixel one on the front. If you're looking for the power / lock button, you'll find it on the top landscape edge, leaving it easy to press even when the tablet's nestled in its keyboard dock. The volume rocker and micro-HDMI socket sit on the upper left side (assuming you're holding the thing in landscape), with a microSD slot located further down on that left edge. On the right, there's nothing but the requisite 3.5mm headphone / mic jack. The bottom edge -- the one that connects to the optional keyboard dock -- is home to three connectors, including the 40-pin charging slot that works with the included AC adapter.
Inside, the device is home to all the usual radios and sensors, including Bluetooth 3.0, a gyroscope, e-compass, aGPS, an ambient light sensor and a G-sensor, with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. And no, for those of you who are wondering, we didn't encounter any problems with WiFi or GPS, like some Prime owners, though these are admittedly the kinds of issues real-world owners might stumble across after an extended honeymoon period.
Display and sound
Like the Prime that came before it (and pretty much every other 10-inch tablet on the market), this guy has a pixel count of 1280 x 800. The difference, though, is that while the original Prime has a 600-nit Super IPS+ display, the TF300 has a brightness level of 350 nits and is "merely" IPS. (We know, right?!) If you're working indoors, with the tablet plugged into the keyboard dock, that drop in brightness shouldn't bother you, though if you're parked outdoors you might find the viewing angles are narrower than what you'd otherwise get on the Prime. Still, with the brightness pushed to the max (a luxury you can afford, given the robust battery life), you should have little problem glancing at your email on the go or framing shots in the camera app.
Even if you don't end up buying the dock, it's simple to follow along with a movie while the tablet's resting flat on a table (or airplane tray) in front of you. (Keep in mind, though, that the speaker's located on the back side, which means the tablet's otherwise loud, balanced audio will sound muffled if you rest the thing face-up.) Really, the main drawback seems to be that this 350-nit panel doesn't do as good a job as the 600-nit one in countering sun glare.
Performance and graphics
ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 ($379)Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 ($250)Acer Iconia Tab A200 ($350)
Quadrant (v2)3,6952,8402,053
Linpack single-thread (MFLOPS)41.7037.137.2
Linpack multi-thread (MFLOPS)89.8361.360.4
NenaMark 1 (fps)60.357.645.6
NenaMark 2 (fps)46.930.420.4
SunSpider 9.1 (ms, lower numbers are better)2,1202,2392,251

A quad-core chip isn't necessarily a shortcut to flawless performance -- and neither is Ice Cream Sandwich.

Like the Prime, the TF300 packs 1GB of RAM and a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, though this chip's clocked at a slightly lower speed (1.2GHz versus 1.3). If you care, the memory type is now DDR3 -- an improvement over the OG Transformer. Once again, ASUS has programmed three different power modes (balanced, power saving and performance), and depending on which you choose the chip can be overclocked to 1.3GHz or throttled down to as low as 600MHz (see the table below for a quickie performance comparison). So what do these feeds and speeds translate to, anyhow? Superlative benchmark scores, for starters. Though it doesn't quite best its big brother (and why would anyone expect it to?), it steamrolled its similarly priced, similarly sized competitors in every benchmark we threw at it.
Notice, too, that the TF300 notches a particularly wide lead in graphics tests like NenaMark. NVIDIA's put a lot of marketing muscle into demoing games on Tegra 3, and has seen to it that tabs like the TF300 come pre-loaded with a title or two designed to showcase its rendering prowess. Indeed, we noticed nary a hiccup as we fled monkeys in Temple Run, and the screen was also responsive as we swiped up to jump and down to slide under overgrown tree trunks. And if we do say so, that loud speaker allows for some crisp sound effects (that is, until the person next to you on the train stink-eyes you into muting those monkey shrieks).
Still, a quad-core chip isn't necessarily a shortcut to flawless performance -- and neither is Ice Cream Sandwich, for that matter. Particularly when we first started playing with it, we noticed delays as we tapped on apps, and the display didn't always seem to hear our fingers calling. (For what it's worth, we never once suffered an app crash.) All this improved quite a bit after we rebooted the device for the first time, but even then we waited patiently through a lag here and there. In particular, web browsing is a bit disappointing: when you zoom in on text or images, you'll almost always notice some white tiling before everything scales as it should. Even the benchmark scores hint at that: though the TF300 takes the gold medal in SunSpider and Vellamo, it wins by a much narrower margin than it does in other categories.
Power saving
Quadrant (v2)2,0623,6953,886
Linpack single-thread38.9441.7046.59
Linpack multi-thread56.6189.8387.55
NenaMark 134.260.360.3
NenaMark 234.346.946.9
SunSpider 9.12,8152,1202,175
Rest assured that if you settle for that median performance mode you won't be taking much of a performance hit, if any. Our graphics scores between the balanced and performance modes were similar across the board, which means there's not that much incentive to switch to the maximum settings, especially if balanced mode holds the promise of longer battery life.
Battery life
TabletBattery Life
ASUS Transformer Pad TF3008:29
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.712:01
Apple iPad 210:26
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime10:17
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.19:55
Apple iPad (2012)9:52 (HSPA) /
9:37 (LTE)
Apple iPad9:33
Pantech Element9:00
Motorola Xoom 28:57
HP TouchPad8:33
Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet8:20
Lenovo IdeaPad K18:20
Motorola Xoom8:20
Acer Iconia Tab A2008:16
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus8:09
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet8:00
Amazon Kindle Fire7:42
Galaxy Tab 2 7.07:38
Archos 80 G97:06
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook7:01
Acer Iconia Tab A5006:55
T-Mobile Springboard (Huawei MediaPad)6:34
Toshiba Thrive6:25
Samsung Galaxy Tab6:09
Motorola Xyboard 8.25:25
Acer Iconia Tab A1004:54
According to ASUS, the 22Wh juicepack inside the TF300 can last through up to 10 hours of active use. In our standard rundown test, we managed eight and a half hours of video playback before the tablet finally gave out. Altogether, that's not as impressive a showing as the Transformer Prime, whose 25Wh battery lasted 10-plus hours in the same test -- and that's despite the fact that the Prime has the overhead of a brighter display. Admittedly, of course, our video playback test is taxing, not least because we fix the brightness at 50 percent. With less intense use (read: more idle time) we eked out closer to 12 hours, and that even included some video playback.
This time around, the dock, too, has a smaller battery than what you'll get with the Prime (16.5Wh versus 22Wh), which should amount to an extra five hours of runtime. We've yet to complete a test with the full dock, but rest assured we're on it. We'll update this review once we get a final score.
Some things don't change. This Transformer, like every other we've reviewed, works with a keyboard dock that doubles as an extended battery, adding an extra five hours of runtime, in this case. The dock is also home two full-size ports -- a USB 2.0 socket and SD slot -- giving you two more ways to shuttle files between your tablet and computer. The most important thing to know, though, if you're new around these parts is that the Transformer doesn't exactly live up to its name out of the box: the dock is sold separately for $150.
For better and worse, the engineering here hasn't really changed, so if you already own a first-gen Transformer and are wondering if you should upgrade, you can probably get away with skimming this section. For newcomers, though, we'll say this: the keys are serviceable, but we don't recommend buying the tablet and dock and expecting them to add up to a laptop replacement. The keys have a flimsy, precarious feel to them, and are at the disadvantage of having been shrunk to accommodate a 10-inch screen. We've also found that the speed of word entry is limited by the tablet, so even though your hands might fly across the keyboard, you'll still notice a slight delay as letters start to appear onscreen. In terms of the typing experience, then, we'd recommend this about as much as we would a netbook: it's enormously handy for pecking out URLs, web searches and short messages, but we wouldn't suggest composing your 15-page term paper (or even 4,000-word review) on it.

The dock is handy for pecking out URLs, but we wouldn't suggest composing your term paper on it.

The truth is, though, even a netbook probably has a sturdier keyboard panel than this -- not to mention, sounder ergonomics. ASUS hasn't done anything to remedy the off-kilter weight distribution, so when the tablet is docked it can still tilt backwards if you're not careful (this is especially true if you're working with it in your lap). For what it's worth, the tablet fits into the dock with a reassuring click and the combined setup feels quite durable, even if the underside of the dock is prone to surface scratches.
Ironically, though, we enjoy the dock's small, multitouch trackpad more than the touchpads on a lot of the laptops we test. Paging up and down or side to side is a no-fuss affair, and the buttons are tactile, if a bit noisy. The pad isn't quite spacious enough for pinch-to-zoom, however, and indeed the trackpad doesn't support it; you'll have to double click to zoom in, or just reach up and perform that gesture on the screen. Once you get over the feeling that you're "supposed" to use the trackpad for scrolling and zooming, it can actually be quite liberating to mix keyboard, mouse and touchscreen input, depending on what's convenient.
For first-time buyers, there's no reason to consider a dock other than this one, the one that was fine-tuned to fit the TF300's particular dimensions. But folks thinking of retiring their OG Transformers might be curious to see if they can save that $150 by slipping their new, state-of-the-art tablet into an older, but still good enough dock. ASUS has an answer ready for you, and we're afraid it's not what you want to hear: the TF300 is not backward compatible with the original dock or USB cable. It should go without saying that the new dock isn't 100 percent simpatico with the Prime or OG Transformer either, since the TF300 dock was designed specifically to cradle the 300.
Though manufacturers like Samsung and HTC are having a field day customizing Ice Cream Sandwich, ASUS is sticking to a different strategy: loading up its tablets with a stock version of Android 4.0.3, and peppering it with a few extra apps and widgets (all uninstallable, fortunately).
As for those pre-installed apps, the list includes Amazon's Kindle reader; App Backup (along with the separate App Backup & Restore); App Locker for password-protecting applications; a shortcut to getGlowball; ASUS MyCloud, My Library and MyNet; Netflix; Photoshop Express; SuperNote; Temple Run; the Zinio magazine store; and a shortcut to the games section of TegraZone (we were being dead-serious about NVIDIA's marketing clout, folks). Users also get 8GB of free lifetime ASUS WebStorage, which is a twist over the way ASUS treated the OG Transformer (in that case, customers received unlimited storage, which was only free for the first year).
In addition to industrial design, another key way in which the TF300 takes after the Prime is in image quality. Now, the basic Transformer tablet has an8-megapixel, backlit-illuminated CMOS sensor with an f.2.2 lens. That's not hugely different from the Prime's 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.4 lens, except the Prime also has an LED flash for lower-light shots. Even so, this makes for a welcome improvement over the 5-megapixel camera included on last year's model. And though megapixels aren't everything, it also has the potential to trump the 3-megapixel shooter on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which also doesn't have a flash. And we're definitely comfortable saying this is a better deal than the $350 Acer Iconia Tab A200, which for a similar price has no rear camera at all, and isn't even necessarily thinner or lighter for lack of that extra hardware.
For better and worse, the camera performs similarly to the one on the Prime. Here, too, you can tap to focus, and the camera does an admirable (though not necessarily quick) job of honing in on the detail of your choice. We did take some issue with the color rendering: some shades look undersaturated (see those apples in our gallery above), while other shades got lost in translation. Some red begonias, for instance, were actually magenta, if our resulting pictures are to be believed. On the bright side, the flash-less camera holds its own in dim (but not necessarily dark) settings.
This generation of the Transformer also records 1080p video at 30 fps. Fortunately, we experienced none of the dropped frames that we did when we first tested the original: the quality here is relatively light on motion blur, and the audio capture is intelligent enough to catch subtler sounds off camera, like passerby's conversation. Watch the compilation below, for example: you can hear a stranger off-camera expressing amusement (or horror?) at the a mannequin in a store window -- a kind of detail that might have been drowned out by wind noise had we been recording with a lesser device.
Configurations, accessories and the competition

It seems obvious that the TF300's quad-core chip provides a real advantage in terms of gaming, longevity and overall speed.

The TF300 starts at $379 for 16GB of storage, with the 32GB model fetching $399. (Side note: why can't all manufacturers charge just a small premium for doubling the internal storage?) In addition, ASUS is selling some accessories (no, we're not really counting the namesake dock here): the VersaSleeve (it is what it sounds like), a micro-HDMI-to-VGA dongle, an external USB adapter and a 4-in-1 memory card reader -- you know, in case you want an SD reader, but don't want to buy the $150 dock to get it.
Of course, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. We're assuming you're choosing this particular tablet. And in case you couldn't tell, we'd heartily agree with your decision if you did, though for anyone who's been holding out for a not-too-expensive Android 4.0 tablet, no reason not to see what else is on the menu. The beautiful thing for anyone shopping right now is that there seems to be an uptick in reasonably priced 10-inch tablets. We're thinking of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which at $399 isn't quite the top-shelf product the first-gen 10.1 was. Ditto for the $350 Acer Iconia Tab A200, one of the first affordable ICS tablets we saw this year. Even the iPad 2 has seen a price cut to $400, but we still maintain first-time iPad buyers are best off paying the extra $100 for the new iPad, if only to get that crisp Retina display. If an iPad's your speed, then, you're probably not seriously considering an Android tablet and likewise, not all shoppers want to be wed to Apple's ecosystem.
Anyhow, for those of you who prefer Android, you've got at least three solid options at the ready. And the truth is, we've enjoyed our time with all of them, though the TF300 offers faster performance and longer battery life than either of these two contenders, both of which make do with last year's dual-core Tegra 2 SoC. For what it's worth, the Acer Iconia Tab A510 will have Tegra 3 when it ships, but at $450 for the 32GB model, it'll cost fifty bucks more than the 32GB TF300, and will also have lesser camera and display specs. It's biggest saving grace, though, might be that its battery life is rated for 12 hours, which, if accurate, would trump almost everything else in its size and price range.
Though we're not normally inclined to make a recommendation based purely on benchmarks, it seems obvious that the TF300's quad-core chip provides a real advantage in terms of gaming, longevity and overall speed. Factor in the decent camera, slightly more polished design, clean Android experience, nice app selection and the useful dock, and you've once again got yourself a good deal.
Though the TF300's price is fairly low, there thankfully isn't that big of a catch. Even as more mid-range, 10-inch Android tablets start hitting the market, the second-gen Transformer still feels like the best deal, with smooth, Tegra 3-powered gaming, good endurance and an understated design that calls to mind ASUS' other Transformer, the $500 Prime.
Aside from the fact that the battery life isn't quite as epic as the Prime's, our most serious complaint has little to do with ASUS, and more with Android: even with a state-of-the-art chip running the latest version of the OS, the tablet occasionally hiccups when launching apps and resizing web pages. There's no reason for a product with such strong tech credentials to stumble over the mundane stuff. Still, the tablet is eminently usable, and ultimately a pleasure to live with. Moreover, the performance is a clear improvement over what you'll get from similarly priced 10-inch tabs, many of which run on last year's dual-core Tegra 2 chip. So if you feel at home in Android and have about $400 to spend, this, friends, is the tablet we recommend.
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Get Metro UI On Your Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Asus Transformer

Click here to find out more!
OK, this one is for the power users that want to have the best of both worlds, meaning the fresh MetroUI on their Google Android-powered tablets. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Asus Transformer owners, check this out! 

It basically is a theme which allows you to make your tablet's homescreen look like Windows 8 (or Windows Phone 7) with its Metro UI. You will have to flash this one using ClockworkMod Recovery but that shouldn't scare you off if you are a heavy tweaker/modder. To find out more details, instructions and feedback, follow the source links below according to your tablet's make. 
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Did ASUS Just Confirm Android 5.0 as Jelly Bean?

There doesn't seem to be much doubt going around at the moment that the next major Android release, following Ice Cream Sandwich last year, will be called Jelly Bean. Besides fitting in nicely with Google's naming strategy, the choice also seems to have been tacitly recognized by Google when we saw the company put out a large bowl of jelly beans at its MWC presence. Still, it's far from official, so we keep looking for something a little more concrete – perhaps a Google employee mentioning Jelly Bean in a personal blog or when responding to a bug report. Today we hear from a third party, though one that should certainly be in the loop for upcoming Android developments, and see some support for both the name Jelly Bean and the idea that it will arrive as Android 5.0. 

An ASUS exec recently spoke to Tech Radar regarding his company's passion for being at the front of the pack with Android updates, saying, "Asus is very close to Google, so once they have Android 5.0 I think there will be a high possibility that we will be the first wave to offer the Jelly Bean update." 

It's entirely possible that the exec has just been hearing all the unofficial talk about Jelly Bean like we have, and only adopted the phrase in place of something more awkward, like "Google's forthcoming Android revision". That's definitely a possibility, but we also can't discount the chance that ASUS really has been talking to Google about its future releases and this statement reflects an official naming decision. 

We're hoping to see Jelly Bean, or however it ends up named, arrive by this fall, though there have been suggestions that it might land quite a bit earlier. 
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The ASUS Padfone: A Shiny Edsel is Still an Edsel

So, on the original Star Trek series, landing parties exploring alien worlds often carried the "Phaser II," which was essentially just a more-powerful cradle for the diminutive "Phaser I" which plugged into it. Star Trek Enterprise did something similar with their portable universal translator. Since no one watched Enterprise, I'll fill you in: a handheld communicator latched into the top of another device, serving as the "ears" of the translator's processing unit. 

These sci-fi analogies doing anything for ya? 

Point is, our society really likes the idea of convergence devices. For years, people have been asking, "what if we combined X-gadget with Y-gadget to create the ultimate XY-doing machine?" 

That's the question that docking-station-lover ASUS hopes to answer with its latest off-the-wall product, the Padfone. Let's see what these crazy cats are up to. 

The Problem 

I do most of my mobile computing on three devices: a Macbook Air, an iPad, and a Galaxy Nexus. While some of my work now resides in the cloud thanks to applications like Google Docs and Evernote, I still manage a lot of memory-hungry content (videos, photos, music, etc.) that needs to be constantly updated across devices. 

I use a few apps and programs to help me do this: TuneSync keeps my Galaxy Nexus in step with iTunes on my Macbook. Apple's iCloud promises to do the same job more elegantly between iTunes and my iPad, though as of this writing I still can't get it working. helps me transfer large files like videos and oversized PDFs between all three devices. 

So, the ability to share information and content across phone, tablet, and computer is, obviously, insanely convenient. The ugly side is in the implementation: keeping everything current across devices is a constant, cumbersome struggle. What if we didn't have to do that dance anymore? What if all of our content lived on a single device that adapted itself to each new situation? 

Enter the Padfone. 


The Solution (?) 

thin long 2
The Padfone handset itself doesn't offer much in the way of standout features: Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 runs on a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, under a Gorilla Glass-covered 4.3" qHD Super AMOLED display. Turn the slightly tapered, wedge-shaped device around and you'll find an 8MP shooter around back. Storage options run up to 64GB, and there's a gig of RAM onboard. All this is powered by a 1520-mAh battery, and both HSPA+ and LTE versions are slated for production. It's a fairly typical early-2012 Android handset. 

Until, that is, you need to expand your work surface. Working on a smartphone is hardly ideal in all situations. Motorola offers an (outrageously priced) laptop dock for those occasions when you need to transform your Atrix or DROID RAZR into a mobile computing station, but notebooks are so 2011. ASUS looks to cash in on the exploding popularity of tablets by offering that form factor as an in-between option. 

The Padfone slides into the slot at the top of the "Padfone Station" (tablet dock). Check out Anton's hands-on: It's not exactly a one-handed process, more akin to loading a VHS tape into an old-school VCR, but it works. Close the protective cover over the phone, and within a few seconds, a 1280x800 version of Android ICS flashes to life on the 10.1" display, powered entirely by the phone. A 6600-mAh battery within the tabletstarts recharging the handset, and antennas and speakers built into the tablet casing take over for those in the phone, ensuring no loss in audio performance or reception. A small window in the protective cover ensures the camera is still accessible. An available stylus doubles as a Bluetooth headset, a clever-if-unusual touch. Overall, it's a very smart design. 

keyboard and tablet and phone2
"But wait," as they say; "there's more!" When you tire of typing on the smooth glass of the tablet, you can mate it to akeyboard dock that's very similar to the keyboard accessory available for ASUS' Transformer line. This dock integrates anadditional 6600-mAh battery, further extending the useful life of the combined device. That's a lot of juice! 

Cheaters Never Prosper 

We obviously won't be able to offer a final verdict on the usefulness of this product until we have a chance for a full review, but let's examine the overall concept. For their part, ASUS has this to say about their goals for the Padfone, in their "Behind The Scene" video which they probably should have hired a voiceover artist for: 

"The Team at ASUS wanted to make an accessory that will complement the phone and allow consumers to enjoy the benefits of both the phone and the pad. The combination of both gadgets is a breakthrough product." 

You know what? They're right. Ignoring a seemingly inferior Chinese design that arguably beat them to the punch, ASUS has indeed built a "breakthrough" product. No one has ever done this before with a phone and a tablet, and certainly not in as polished a manner as the demo units seem to indicate. Obviously there's no shortage of advantages to the approach ASUS has taken: no matter what form factor you choose -phone, tablet, or notebook- your data remains intact and accessible within the "core" of the device, with no syncing required. Also, your mobile data connection is the same across all three devices, obviating the need for tethering or separate data plans from your wireless carrier. 

P 500
At first glance, this doesn't look to be a classic case of a "jack of all trades, but a master of none." If it works as advertised, the Padfone suite of products will likely serve its intended purpose quite well. Rather, the stumbling block is more fundamental: this is a convergence product that's arriving too late. It's built on an outdated concept of what the "continuous client" should be. 

The notion -the dream, if you will- of the "continuous client," as elucidated by Joshua Topolsky, is simple: "when you leave one device, you pick up your session in exactly the same place on the next device you use." This applies to Twitter notifications, to browsing sessions, to Angry Birds progress, etc. Your session history and your content should follow you from computer to tablet to phone - and back again. Right now, that's not how it is. And that's annoying. 

Modern approaches to this issue are based primarily in duplicating your data across multiple devices, but doing so automatically in the background, seamlessly, avoiding the annoying need to manually "sync." That's why there's so much buzz about The Cloud these days; storing all of your data in one location, accessible from any of your devices, is the easiest, most direct means to accomplish that end. 

ASUS, while attempting to deliver the ultimate such experience in the Padfone, is in fact offering exactly the opposite. To return to my Star Trek metaphor, ASUS is Captain Kirk taking the Kobayashi Maru test: it cheats the system by changing the rules. Only this time, it doesn't work. ASUS is effectively saying "put your life on this device, and then plug this device into whatever accessory fits your current need." 

While that's actually not a bad idea (ignoring the obvious pitfall of possible loss of your phone), such a bold concept requires bold hardware to back it up. "Say goodbye to constant syncs!" ASUS declares on thePadfone website. But if the Padfone is going to be my substitute for the cloud, it needs to be a powerhouse monster-truck of a device. 64 GB isn't gonna cut it; I'm going to need a 500GB hard drive in the phone, enough RAM to run a few browser sessions at once, etc. 

Of course, ASUS isn't suggesting that the Padfone replace all of your computers … but then what are they saying? What's the point of this product? The principal benefits are multiple form-factors when you're on the road, and the ability to use a single cellular data plan to connect all of them. That's it. It's still dependent on the cloud because of its low storage capacity, so you still need "constant syncs!" to keep it updated. You're still lugging three devices around (phone, tablet, keyboard), but you can't use them at the same time or share them, as you could with independent devices. And when you want to upgrade to the next evolution of the Padfone, you better cross your fingers that ASUS makes the new handset compatible with the tablet dock and keyboard, or you're in for a lot of eBaying and re-investing. 

In a previous editorial, our editor-in-chief Brandon Miniman opined that the Padfone reminded him of the Kyocera Echo, in that it makes a splash with something different, but won't be a success. I agree. 

The Padfone is the answer to a question no one's asking anymore. While it looks beautifully built, and though I love innovative, cool gadgets as much as the next tech geek, I don't see it gaining much traction. Even with the hip "I'm talking on a pen!" demographic.
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