Asustek Computer Inc (華碩), the world’s No. 3 consumer notebook vendor, yesterday set the retail price of its new PadFone at NT$25,901 (US$879), virtually the same price as Apple’s popular iPhone 4S, ahead of presales of the tablet/smartphone combo today.
The mobile device, of which Asustek offered a peek at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in late February, will arrive in the hands of customers who place purchase orders between today and April 19, the company said.
“Priced at NT$1 higher than the iPhone 4S, PadFone is not only a smartphone that slides inside a tablet with a bigger screen and a longer battery life ... Docking the tablet to a keyboard, it can function as a laptop,” Asustek chief executive Jerry Shen (沈振來) told a media briefing.
After hitting the shelves in Taiwan, the three-in-one gadget is to be released in the US, Europe, China and other parts of the world later this month, the Asustek boss said.
The 4.3-inch smartphone features an active-matrix organic LED display, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor, an eight-megapixel digital camera with a Fuji image processor and a five-element lens, all wrapped in a design to optimize the use of Google’s Android 4.0 operating system, Shen said.
When placed inside the optional PadFond eStation, the device transforms into a tablet with a 10.1-inch screen and allows users up to 63 hours of talk time, Shen said.
The PadFone Station offers an optional keyboard dock that essentially turns the gadget into a notebook with an extended talk time of up to 102 hours, Shen said, adding that the smartphone also comes with the option of a Bluetooth stylus pen, that transforms into a headset for picking up calls.
In addition, the gadget is preinstalled with an exclusive application called SuperNote, which allows the user to take notes through a variety of options, including the keyboard, finger input, photo and video capture, and via audio, Shen said, calling it his favorite design feature.
PadFone owners will also receive 32 gigabytes of Asus Webstorage for three years to optimize their cloud computing experience, he said.
Shen has said previously that he expects the company’s tablet shipments to increase from 1.8 million units last year to 3 million this year.
The company plans to roll out a new-generation PadFone in the second half of the year, but Shen declined to give any details to avoid affecting sales of the existing device.