Yesterday at MWC, ASUS monopolized the limelight, releasing no less than three intriguing new devices. We call ASUS’ new products devices for lack of a better term. Depending on how you use them, the Transformer Pad Infinity an the Transformer Pad 300 can be either tablets or netbooks.
Moreover, the long-awaited Padfone takes the whole Transformer concept to the next level – the 4.3-inch Padfone smartphone docks into a larger shell to become a full-fledged tablet, which in turn, docks into a keyboard to become an Android 4.0 netbook (notebook?). And ASUS took the whole craziness (in the good way) further by adding a stylus/headset, for quick doodling and answering calls while the smartphone is docked. As crazy as it may sound, we liked the idea of having one modular device instead of three, so kudos to ASUS for not sticking to the norms.
Before jumping in to the product presentations, note that ASUS dropped the Eee branding, opting instead for the Transformer Pad moniker for its entire family of slates. So, bye-bye Eee Pad Transformer, hello Transformer Pad. Simple, huh?
Let’s start with the delicious cocktail of devices named Padfone. As a smartphone, the Padfone offers attractive, if not ground-breaking specs. The 4.3-inch screen is bright and vivid thanks to the Super AMOLED technology, but the qHD resolution (960 x 540) leaves some room for improvement. The brains of the smartphone (and of the entire tablet/notebook setup) is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, while the graphics are courtesy of a Qualcomm Adreno 225 chip. Add 1GB of RAM and a whopping 64GB of storage (expandable) and you got yourself a pretty nice phone.
Of course, the Padfone’s most distinctive feature is its ability to tuck snuggly inside a 10.1 tablet to become its central nervous system. The Padfone Station looks almost identical to the other Transformer Pads, just your typical 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 resolution slate. The big difference is the door on its back, which you open to reveal the slot where the Padfone sits. Shut it tightly and you’ve got yourself a nice looking tablet. The Station is not just a shell, including a 6547 mAh battery that extends the life of the combo, plus a micro-USB port and HDMI port. For typing-intensive operations, you can add a keyboard to the phone-pad duo, and, voila, you get a 10.1-inch netbook running Android 4.0.
But what took everyone by surprise yesterday was the stylus-headset contraption that ASUS CEO Jonney Shih pulled out of his sleeve (not literally). The stylus allows doodling and writing, just like you would do with a Galaxy Note, the only difference being the soft, squishy tip of the stylus. Also, the gadget incorporates a microphone and speakers, so you can use it to make calls without pulling the brains out of your netbook. The addition of the stylus handset may be a last minute change by ASUS, inspired by the success of the stylus-wielding Galaxy Note. Keep in mind that the Padfone was first teased over 10 months ago, so the product probably went through many transformations before ASUS finally introduced it to us.
For those looking for a cheap alternative to buying several devices or for a flexible Jack-of-all-trades, the Padfone can certainly prove appealing. The phone/slate/netbook will come in April, but we don’t have any information of the pricing of the thingy yet. More details about the Padfone here.
The Transformer Pad Infinity may be familiar to you from last month’s CES, called at the time Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700T (what a mouthful). Now, with a streamlined name and slightly improved specs, the Infinity has become ASUS’ flagship tablet. Here are the specifications that warrant the Infinity’s leading place in ASUS’ roster:
Why two processor types? The 3G/4G LTE version of the Infinity will use the S4 SoC which incorporates the required 3G/4G broadband chip, while for the Wi-Fi only version, ASUS went for a quad core Tegra 3. It will be interesting to see how the two versions do against each other in terms of performance.
ASUS played on the fact that the Transformer Pad Infinity is the first HD LTE tablet on the market. Indeed, the Infinity’s 1920 x 1200 Super IPS is beautiful to gaze at, with vibrant colors and good viewing angles.
Being a member of the Transformers clan, the Infinity can plug into a keyboard dock and instantly turn into an Android 4.0 netbook. The keyboard dock includes a battery of its own, increasing the battery life of the whole contraption to an impressive 16 hours (the tablet itself will last you about 10 hours, according to ASUS).
The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity will become available in the second quarter of the year. While ASUS didn’t provide any pricing info, AnandTech thinks that the slate will set you back an estimated $599 – $799.
The Transformer Pad 300 is clearly the designated budget-friendly member of the family, being priced at $399. This makes it $100 cheaper than the slightly better Transformer Pad Prime. On the outside, the Transformer Pad 300 is almost an exact replica of the Transformer Pad Infinity, with the distinction being made by the back plates – instead of brushed aluminum, the TF Pad 300 sports ribbed plastic, which comes in three colors – red, white, and navy blue.
The 10.1-inch Pad 300 offers a lower resolution than the high-end Infinity, just 1280 x 800, but that was kind of a requisite to keep the price down. Other trades offs that ASUS made with the Transformer Pad 300 include a smaller battery (22Wh versus the 25Wh of the Infinity), only 16GB of storage, and a slightly heavier build. However, you’ll be happy to know that the Pad 300 runs on a quad-core Tegra 3, albeit presumably at a lower clock speed than the Infinity.
With the Pad 300, ASUS went Nvidia all the way, but apparently, the slate will still be able to accommodate LTE through an additional baseband module. We wonder why ASUS didn’t choose the same solution for the Infinity LTE version. Anyway, the Pad 300 will support the same keyboard dock as the Infinity, the Padfone, and the Prime.
Here are the Transformer Pad 300 full specs:
Let us know your opinion – how do you like ASUS’ new Transformers? And do you think that the Padfone will be a game-changer? We’d love to hear from you!