By Andrew Liszewski
Most hardware manufacturers will happily sell you separate tablet and smartphone hardware, but ASUS has decided to merge the two with their new Padfone which was just unveiled at the Computex 2011 show currently taking place in Taipei, Taiwan. While technically the smartphone and tablet are separate hardware, the Padfone phone has to be placed inside the tablet for it to work. It’s not unlike the ill-fated Palm Foleo, or the Motorola ATRIX 4G. The Padfone runs Android not surprisingly, and on the tablet side it’s got a 10.1-inch 1280×800 resolution display that seamlessly increases and displays whatever it is you were doing on the smartphone before you docked it. So if you were viewing a mobile-friendly version of a website, it would automagically switch to the full version to take advantage of the larger display.
The tablet also has its own built-in rechargeable battery, which will top off the smartphone when it’s docked, and like the phone it sports its own front-facing camera for making video calls. It doesn’t have a camera on the back, but instead relies on the phone’s 5MP snapper which can still be used thanks to a strategic hole on the back for the lens. The wifi and 3G communications hardware on the phone are of course still accessible when using it as a tablet, which is nice since it doesn’t require a separate data plan. And as far as I can tell you’re limited to the storage available on the phone which means that you don’t end up with different media or photos on each device. ASUS says there’s a chance the Padfone could ship sometime this year, but given it’s almost June and its hardware specs aren’t officially finalized yet, I’m not going to hold my breath. (Because I’ll die.)