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

As a laptop, Padfone is top heavy — the Padfone Station (the tablet screen) is 724g and the keyboard weighs 640g. With the Padfone attached to the tablet module and keyboard dock, when I titled the screen at the angle I needed, it was too heavy to stand on its own, and would just tip over backwards.

■ The Padfone comes with a fancy stylus, which isn’t very useful, and doesn’t work well

The Padfone Station comes with a Bluetooth pen-stylus, on which you can receive and make calls. You hold it up to your ear as you would with a phone receiver. The idea behind the stylus is that when you’re using the Padfone as a tablet, you can use it to make and receive phone calls, so you don’t have to pull the phone out of the tablet. The main problems: The reception using Bluetooth can be hit or miss (I gave up using it because people I called couldn’t hear me well enough) and it feels awkward to use (lift a pen to your ear and start talking — that’s what it’s like; you also have to deal with fiddly buttons). Also, if you’re like me, you’d lose it right away — it’s just an extra part you have to keep track of.

■ The entire set is expensive and the price doesn’t quite match the value

The Padfone retails for NT$17,900, the Padfone Station (the tablet) is NT$6,990 and the Padfone Dock keyboard is NT$3,000. All together that’s almost NT$28,000, which is a sizable amount to spend for a tablet screen and keyboard that you may get sick of using.

Conclusion

With the Padfone, Asus was thinking in the right direction by making a smartphone the nerve center of one’s computing needs. In this case, the company is onto something with the concept, but the execution feels somewhat flawed. As a tablet, the Padfone is usable, but shortchanged by its design (especially its wide-screen dimensions), and with the keyboard dock, it feels like Asus is trying to shoehorn laptop functionality into the mix. It should also be noted that with the next generation Padfone, due out at the end of this year, Asus is no longer offering the keyboard dock — not exactly a vote of confidence for the “3-in-1” design. If you like the look and feel of the Padfone, skip the accessories. At the end of the day, it’s a decent enough Android smartphone.

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