Friday, February 22, 2013

Asus Padfone 2 review: Plug and play


In today's rapidly-growing market, it's the push for more CPU cores and (mega)pixels that has been driving the industry forward. But every now and then, an extraordinary gadget emerges to explore new and exciting dimensions. Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note and the Asus Padfone dare to go against the tide and remind everyone that there's more than one right way to make a phone. Or a tablet. Or both.
Asus obviously doesn't have Samsung's momentum, level of sales or, ultimately, an unlimited budget to really go all out on a project like this, but the first Padfone was successful enough to warrant another go-around. A year later, the sequel has a foundation to build upon, and the company has had time to learn and get stuff ironed out.

And going by the Padfone 2's specs, Asus are hoping to make a splash.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE (market dependent)
  • 4.7" 16M-color 720p Super IPS+ capacitive touchscreen display with 312ppi density
  • Android OS v4.1.1 Jelly Bean
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset
  • Docking station with 10" 1280x800 pixel display, 5000 mAh battery
  • Gorilla Glass protection for both displays
  • 13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geo-tagging
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • 1.2 MP front-facing camera on phone, 1MP front-facing camera on docking station, 720p video recording
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
  • 16/32/64GB of built-in storage
  • MHL-enabled microUSB port
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • SonicMaster loudspeakers on phone and tablet

Main disadvantage

  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • Mediocre screen quality of the docking station
  • Non-expandable storage
  • No camera key
With the second Padfone you have a properly-powered smartphone just a 1080p screen short of matching the 2013 flagships, and one that converts into an equally powerful tablet. The station screen is not quite up to Retina standards either, but considering the price of the whole package, Asus is still vastly over-delivering.
Sure, the Asus Padfone 2 is priced rather steeply for a smartphone, but it's actually a fraction of what you'd normally pay for a quad-core smartphone and a quad-core tablet. Not to mention the added convenience of having all your files, contacts and accounts at your disposal at all times, regardless of which screen you're using.
Which leads us to the catch. You are not actually getting a smartphone and a tablet here, it's simply two screens to work with and two batteries to power the same combo. The best thing is, the Padfone station (the tablet body) will charge the phone's battery too. Think: a tablet with an escape pod, or a phone that can more than quadruple its screen size when needed.

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