Hands-on With The ASUS PadFone, Is It a Phone Or a Table?

ASUS's PadFone has been making regular appearances at tech shows since it debuted at Computex last May. But today at Mobile World Congress, ASUS showed off a final version of the phone/ tablet combo, and we got to spend some time with it.

The PadFone is powered by a 1.5-Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB of RAM. That kind of power is certainly needed, because the PadFone also serves as the guts for its optional 10.1-inch PadFone Station, tablet-style dock. At first glance, performance appears snappy, we didn't detect any lag when navigating through Android 4.0's menus.

We won't know exact speed numbers until we test the PadFone ourselves, but based on the anecdotal evidence we gleaned from our hands-on, the phone seems quick. We were also very impressed with the phone's 4.5-inch Super AMOLEDqHD display. Colors were vibrant and images were sharp.

ASUS pulls the PadFone's design scheme from the same industrial design well as the Zenbook and Transformer Prime. The back of the PadFone features the same concentric circle pattern found on both of the aforementioned devices; however, in this application, the pattern has deeper ridges that provide extra grip. At 4.6 ounces the phone is a featherweight and certainly feels as such.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the PadFone's 10.1-inch PadFone Station dock. At 1.6 pounds, the tablet is a tad heavier than we would prefer. The PadFone Station's 1280 x 1000 resolution display offered a crisp picture, while the touchscreen was as responsive as you would expect a standard tablet to be. Popping the PadFone into the tablet dock is as easy as opening the slot cover on the rear of the dock and dropping the phone in. Seal up the cover and you'd never suspect a phone was seated in the tablet.

In addition to the PadFone Station, ASUS has also unveiled a keyboard dock for the PadFone. Combining all three of the components gives the PadFone the feel of a netbook. Keyboard travel on the dock felt good, although the touchpad did seem a bit too sensitive .Our biggest gripe was how heavy the dock felt in our hands.

Overall, the PadFone seems like a compelling package. Check back with us for a full review of  the product in the coming months.