At this moment, Asus is the only known manufacturer which continues the idea of a smartphone, as an engine, for a tablet docking station. This year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we’ve witnessed yet another generation being released under the name of the Asus Padfone Infinity, one which brought to surface a lot of interesting questions, and opinions.
Is the concept of a smartphone / tablet symbiosis a good, or a terrible one? How much does the implementation weighs in the process and how expensive should one of these products be? What are the people’s thought on the matter and what do manufacturers want to achieve? Find out the answer on all of these, and even more, in the section below.
The Story of the Smart Docking Station
The first one to introduce a mobile docking station in the market was Motorola, through their Atrix 4G smartphone. This unit, which was pretty revolutionary in January 2011, came with a small laptop dock that could be purchased alongside the smartphone. Using the laptop dock, Motorola Atrix owners could have extended the capabilities of the phone through a larger display, a secondary operating system and a bigger battery. Alone, the laptop dock was useless, but when the phone was connected, a desktop OS based on Ubuntu fired up and the experience was pretty smooth.
One year later, Asus took the idea a step further with the first Padfone model, which was basically a smartphone accompanied by a fellow tablet-like dock. The concept was introduced back then and preserved until present, so it’s pretty simple to explain: the tablet station has no internal processing units, and relies solely on the smartphone to function. Although it comes with an extra battery to power the 10.1-inch wide screen, of same resolutions as the smartphone, it has no power by itself.
Next year, Asus tested the market again, this time with the Padfone 2. This was basically a more refined model and one that carried top-notch specs. In practice, the concept remained unchanged and Asus only changed the production materials, while making sure internal pieces can render the most demanding content on the market.
Preserving the tradition, Asus released yet another version this year at the Mobile World Congress, where they amazed the audience once again with high-end specifications, but failed disappointed when spoke about the Padfone Infinity price.
As you may already guessed, this Padfone concept will work really great for those who base their work, or pleasure, on both tablets and smartphone. It will spare users from a lot of worries that may appear with a phone and a tab alone, like recharging both units and worrying about the battery life, synchronizing content between the two devices or actually paying for two contract deals (when you buy a tablet it should have a 3G antenna to get cellular internet, so that’s an extra worry).
Downsides and Drawbacks
Probably the most worrying disadvantage is, of course, the price. At this moment, and we will only try to relate it for the present, the Asus Padfone Infinity should retail for 999 euros, or around $1300 for our US-based friends. Users should understand that this large sum is accounted for the advantages presented above, and nothing more.
On the other side, with this sum you can purchase two distinctive products, even ones that offer a better end-user experience, or at least another motive to brag. For example, an unlocked iPhone 5 can set you back around $650 and the starting iPad costs around $500-600, depending on the storage. Doing the math, this reaches a comparable number and you still have to worry about all of the above.
Of course, if you opt for the Nexus line, than you can get all of these features at a very low price, and even get something for spare.
Another disadvantage would be the fact that you cannot share the second tablet with someone, while playing on the phone. You can make up for the calling part, by answering incoming calls using a Bluetooth headset, but privacy issues and the fact that any call will disrupt the tablet interface is still present.
Opinions are shared
After taking a look around several sources, and even speaking with people coming over to Asus booth, we’ve agreed that people’s opinions are shared, like usual. While most of them think that the rather odd device combination is overpriced, some accept the innovative idea and may even opt to purchase the Infinity. This second category mostly relies on the fact that this kind of gadget is rather unseen in the mainstream market, dominated by Apple and where someone, pulling out a phone from the back of a slate would be looked at with envy.
Others simply like the awesome design that Asus managed to craft and that brushed aluminum plate that puts even Apple to shame. This dangerous combination, between top notch specs, computational speed and a nice, professional design may win a lot of hearts. I guess that sales numbers will declare the winning side soon.
The only thing missing
Although we do not seek to live inside a utopian world, Asus would have blazed through the market with a smaller price. Figures like $800, let’s say, would have convinced most users to abandon Apple right away, but we understand that’s the fate of technology which needs to change. On the other hand, they have other products with high-end specifications that sell from less.
Or, as we’ve learned from users’ opinions shared around the web, some may pay even this high-end price if the additional tablet dock would have came with some extra storage space, let’s say around 128GB. This would have knocked other companies right out of the way and maybe even win them the war.
I guess that in the end the only thing missing for Asus is a competitor, to spice things up. Anyone wants to join?