Asus Padfone, Padfone Station and Stylus – First Look

Ever since the first Transformer was unleashed to an unsuspecting Android community, we’ve been keeping an eye on the innovative releases from Asus. We’ve seen the Eee Pad Slider, the Transformer Prime, and have seen the TF700 in its prototype format at the CES earlier this year. Now, this Asus Padfone first look is another feather in the cap for the Taiwanese PC company as it ramps up its tablet range.

Asus Padfone - the smartphone that transforms into a tablet, which then transforms into a keyboard driven mobile product. No shortage of innovation here.

As part of the Asus Padfone first look, we have an unboxing video, which shows all the gear that comes bundled with both the Padfone and the large screen Padfone station - come back to see this in a few hours.

For those familiar with the delicious family feast consisting of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed into a turkey, the Asus Padfone does feel a little like a technology turducken. Each added element adds a little more functionality but also obviously pads out (forgive the pun) the Asus Padfone’s dimensions and weight. Here’s the overview segment that we think gets across all the cool things about the Padfone:

As you could see, the Padfone is a pretty stock standard ICS build in a nice Ultrabook/Transformer Prime style case. The more I use the native Android 4 environment on mobiles, the more I like it, and the same applies to the Asus Padfone, which is light, comfortable in the hand and should have enough grunt to run whatever Android apps you throw at it, courtesy of the Snapdragon dual core 1.5GHz processor.

Then we have the Asus Padfone Station, which is the 10.1″ inch screen that comes to life when you insert the Padfone into the cradle in the back. The screen looks just like any other Asus ICS tablet product with the familiar home page graphics and Asus-specific widgets. The trick here is to remember that this isn’t a tablet, it’s just a screen displaying the output from the Padfone, which has all the grunt.

The next trick up the Padfone’s sleeve is to then connect the Padfone Station to the Asus Padfone Dock, which is essentially the keyboard dock that we have come to know and love from Asus. With all the same Android shortcuts as on other Transformer keyboards, a second SD card slot after the Micro-SD slot on the Padfone, and the ability to pump out well-typed messages and documents, you can see that Asus have pulled no punches to take this concept as far as it can, including a stylus that doubles as a bluetooth headset.

The Asus Padfone is a superb example of an idea that could well have stayed in the design and R & D labs. Kudos to Asus for showing just what is possible in the Android environment. Without taking away anything from this concept, one must be wondering what wonderful toys are lurking in their Windows 8 testing room.

Our local contacts have left the Asus Padfone with us for a few more days, so there is an opportunity to test or demonstrate a few more things for you and create more content around your feedback. Let us know what other details you’re interested in and we’ll come up with a few more segments around your comments.

Look forward to hearing from you!

CES 2012: Samsung Galaxy Note Smartphone

One of the more intriguing products to come out of the CES was one that has already been released overseas  but hasn’t yet seen the light of day in either the US or Australia. This was the new Samsung phone, the Galaxy Note, a Smartphone that straddles the space between phone and tablet – and does it very well.

For creative types and business people on the go, the Galaxy Note could be the answer to Multiple Device Syndrome.

Sales in the regions where it’s been released has now reached over 1 million units, so it certainly has found success so far in Europe, India and parts of Asia. With the Note expecting to be released early this year in the States and Australia, it was worth visiting the Samsung stands to have a look.

Samsung’s stand was massive at the CES, and a large portion of it was devoted to the Galaxy Note – there must have been over two dozen working units for people to play with. In addition to the stand, Samsung had set up a separate booth in another area of the convention centre where freehand artists were using Galaxy Notes to sketch up caricatures of attendees. I would have loved to have done that just for this article, but the line was unbelievably long.

So what makes this new Samsung phone so different that it has captivated such an audience? To start with, there is no tablet or Smartphone quite like it. From the screen to the stylus, it has managed to position itself away from any direct competition and sell itself on unique propositions.

Depending on how you look at it/use it, it’s either the largest mobile phone in the world, or the world’s smallest tablet. The screen size, at 5.3 inches, actually negates the need for a secondary device when you’re out and about. This is because the actual quality of the display is enhanced by the very first HD Super AMOLED screen on the market.

We had a play with the Galaxy Note at the Samsung stand at the CES and the two things that stood out for me were the physical dimensions of the Note as well as the emphasis on the stylus. The stylus is key to Samsung’s marketing of the Note, and they are building a whole sswap of apps designed specifically to take advantage of the Stylus, which actually hides away in the Note when not in use.

The stylus reintroduces a way of using a phone/tablet that hasn’t been seen since Palm Pilots were all the rage. However, the screen resolutions and applications that are available these days make the Note a compelling product for those you might call “creatively mobile”. That is, those that like to doodle away and design or edit and enjoy these activities even while on the go.

The stylus can be used for many different things, from freehand drawing, word recognition, editing and cropping, and a whole bunch more depending on the app. I can envisage powerful business reasons to use this new Samsung phone with this tool as well – I’d love to be able to highlight images or phrases on a document and visually communicate this to my contacts instead of typing/describing what I need.

Advertising briefs, presentation drafts and proposals can all be shared with better visual understanding of what needs to be achieved. Fit out a marketing team with these and they’ll never look back. So to me, the business potential for the Note is enormous once people understand how to take advantage of the tools, and the apps that are being rolled out.

The only uncertainty factor in my mind is the first thing that struck me when I first laid eyes on one:  would I really carry such a large device around as my main phone all the time? Compared to an iPhone, it’s gigantic, and next to a Galaxy S II it still appears oversized. I can see the benefits of the screen size – for reading documents, browsing the web, even for entertainment such as gaming and video watching, it combines all the features of a Smartphone and a tablet. But would I handle such a large device in my pocket all day, everyday?

That question will have to be left until we get a sample back here in Australia to test and report back. Until then, here are two short videos on the Galaxy Note from the Samsung stand at CES.

This one shows some of the functionality of the Note, particularly using the Stylus:

 

This video shows the video playback of the Galaxy Note:

 

We look forward to a more in depth review when a Note becomes available to us. In the meantime, tell us what you think… would you hand in your small smartphone and large tablet for a mid-sized smartphone that has tablet functionality and other enhanced features?