Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Tech review

The “Taipei Times” looks at the Asus Padfone, a smartphone that also powers a tablet and a laptop — if you’re willing to splurge on the extra parts

By David Chen  /  Staff reporter

■ It’s easier to be connected to the Internet

The Padfone makes it easy for you to stay online, assuming you have a mobile Internet data plan (which most smartphone owners have). When plugged in to the tablet module, the Padfone just uses the regular mobile data connection to get online, which removes the need to find a WiFi signal, as you might with an iPad or similar device. Of course, the tablet module has a WiFi transmitter when you want to use it.

■ Battery life is quite good, especially with the Padfone Station and keyboard dock

When I tested the Padfone, I managed a day and a half between charges, which is average for a high-end smartphone. But with the Padfone Station (the tablet module) and the Padfone Station Dock (the keyboard), you get an extra boost. Both have a built-in battery that charges the Padfone, which for me, meant that I could eek out two or three days without having to charge anything. This makes the idea of an all-in-one device a little more convincing.

The not so good

■ The Padfone is a decent smartphone, but a mediocre tablet

While the software runs smoothly (I found it to be an improvement over the Transformer — see page 11 of the Jun 29, 2011, edition of the Taipei Times), it’s still Android, which, let’s face it, is just not as refined Apple’s iOS. If you’re good at tweaking settings, fine. But this is not a device for your grandma. Also, there’s a more practical matter — the Padfone Station is uncomfortable to hold. The 10.1-inch screen is too wide — it often felt like holding a steering wheel. Holding it the other way around, in portrait mode, makes the screen seem too narrow and long.

■ As a laptop, the Padfone is also mediocre

Adding the keyboard didn’t do much to change my impression of the Padfone as a tablet. In general, it felt like a netbook all over again. The keyboard dock is cramped and I never really got used to it in the three days I spent using the Padfone and its accessories as my main smartphone and computer. While a laptop with a touchscreen sounds like a great idea, I found it tiresome to paw at the screen to navigate. There’s a touchpad, but like the ones on almost every laptop out there, it’s too sensitive, which makes it easy to send the cursor flying all over the place. One thing I missed when using the Padfone as a laptop: the ability to undo using “Control+Z,” which will probably annoy any avid typist.

■ Combined with its components, the Padfone becomes physically unwieldy

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