From CES, Asus continues to introduce hybrid devices to accommodate a variety of use cases – from dual OS laptops to “convergent” smartphone-tablet devices as seen from the new Padfone Mini, which mates a 4″ Android smartphone to a 7″ screen. Despite a modest 800×480 resolution, the phone itself looks and feels quite nice — it’s what I imagine a better constructed second generation Moto X could be. Beyond the handsome hardware, the Padfone Mini runs Asus’ ZenUI experience on top of Android – bringing flat, soft visuals, more akin to iOS7 than the Samsung’s garish TouchWiz presentation. In addition to interface customizations, there are plenty of software enhancements – including an superfluous selfie feature and the more practical “What’s Next” that mashes up your calendar, tasks, and location, viewed within a dedicated app or integrated into live wallpaper.
Of course, the main feature and selling point here is being able to transform a smartphone into a tablet and waiting about 2 seconds after simply sliding the handset into the back of the “station” is all it takes. It’s not the most sleek tablet you’ll encounter, but in theory you’ll save a few bucks by only funding a single processor, 8 megapixel camera, 4G plan, and such. Also, there’s some benefit to managing a single device when it comes to apps and customization. Lastly, both phone and the tablet sled contain their own batteries… which can be charged simultaneously when docked. It’s a clever solution, which may or may not make it to American shores. And I’m still pining more for a next gen Motorola Atrix smartphone/netbook sort of hybrid.
Initial partners, pricing, and timing will be revealed next month at Mobile World Congress.