ASUS last week unveiled the PadFone 2 in Singapore. Like the first iteration, the PadFone 2 uses the same concept of a smartphone docking into a customized 10.1-inch tablet, which is known as the PadFone 2 Station (Figure A). Figure A
PadFone 2 and the PadFone 2 Station (Photo courtesy of Asus)
With the PadFone 2, ASUS beefed up the smartphone with a larger display, a quad-core processor, and high-speed LTE and DC-HSPA+ mobile support for the region. ASUS also made the tablet slimmer and lighter by paring down its internal battery and removing the back cover.
SpecificationsI summarize some of the PadFone 2's key specifications in Figure B. Figure B
Click the image to enlarge.
The larger 4.7-inch screen (compared to the 4.3-inch screen in the original PadFone) necessitates that the PadFone 2 is slightly longer and wider than the PadFone. In addition, the PadFone 2 weighs 6 grams more than the PadFone. You get a higher resolution screen, a better camera, a faster processor, NFC, and twice the amount of system RAM.
The main improvements in weight and slimness are in the PadFone 2 Station, which with the smartphone docked, weighs in at 649 grams compared to the PadFone's 853 grams. Despite the smaller 5,000 mAH battery, the PadFone 2 Station is still capable of offering 36 hours of 3G talk-time on top of the PadFone 2's own 16 hours — that's enough capacity to recharge the PadFone 2 smartphone more than twice.
The PadFone Station Dock has been dropped, which will disappoint people who loved the original 3-in-1 concept. The PadFone 2 Android smartphone comes with Ice Cream Sandwich installed, but ASUS say it will be upgradable to Jelly Bean.
The ASUS PadFone 2 will be available beginning November 22, 2012 through StarHub Mobile as well as authorized retailers in Singapore. The PadFone 2 is available with 32 GB and 64 GB of internal storage and is priced at S$1,099 and S$1,239 respectively with the PadFone 2 Station and S$848 and S$988 without the tablet, respectively.
I was at the unveiling of the original PadFone in June 2012 and commented that the concept was not exactly practical. For example, a travelling executive would be better off with a separate smartphone and a tablet or, now that Windows 8 is out, a touch-screen Ultrabook and a smartphone.
The idea of an all-in-one smartphone/tablet/laptop takes another hit with the PadFone 2 because it does not have a keyboard dock. On that front, folks who prefer a physical keyboard will have to look around for Bluetooth keyboards from third-party accessory makers.
Overall, the PadFone 2 is a solid improvement to the PadFone prodct family. It's a must-buy device for people who like the concept.Also read: the CNET review of the PadFone 2.
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Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.