Asus aims at tablets and phablets with Padfone Infinity, Fonepad

A snap-on frame transforms the Padfone into a tablet

Asustek Computer is targeting both smartphone and tablet users with its new Padfone Infinity and Fonepad devices, which can be converted between the two formats.

The Padfone Infinity device is a 5-inch smartphone that can morph into a 10-inch tablet with an snap-on dock. The product will be priced at ¬999 (US$1,317) when it becomes available; Asus said only that it would be sold in the coming months.

The company also introduced the Fonepad, a large-screen 7-inch tablet that can also function as a phone. The device fits into a category of products called "phablets," much like Samsung's Galaxy Note II products, though the screen size points to it being a more conventional tablet like Google's Nexus.

The products were introduced at the Mobile World Congress trade show, which is being held in Barcelona until February 28.

The Padfone Infinity's smartphone display shows images at a full high-definition 1920 by 1080 pixels, and at 441 pixels per inch. The tablet dock also has a 1080p display. A technology called Dynamic Display allows for a smooth transition between phone and tablet when the Padfone is plugged into a dock. The device offers 19 hours of battery life on 3G talk time, 6.5 hours of browsing and 9 hours video playback, with longer times when attached to the tablet dock.

The camera has a 13-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel back camera. Asus has introduced proprietary technology in which the Padfone logo on the smartphone becomes an NFC antenna when activated.

The device has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor running at 1.7GHz. That processor is also being used in HTC's new One smartphone, which was introduced earlier this month ahead of MWC. The Padfone Infinity device runs on the Android OS, supports 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage; 50GB of Web storage is offered by Asus for free.

The Padfone Infinity is another example of Asus bridging the gap between device categories. At last June's Computex trade show, the company introduced Taichi, which is a dual-screen laptop that turns into a tablet when the laptop is shut.

The Infinity is similar to old PadFones, but packs more power. Asus last year announced the PadFone 2, which is a 4.7-inch phone that plugs into a 10.1-inch tablet frame. Padfone 2 had a Snapdragon S4 Krait, weighed 135 grams in phone mode and 514 grams in tablet mode.

Asus's new Fonepad device has multiple cameras, a 1280-by-800 pixel display, 3G communication capabilities, and is priced starting at $249. It will be available in March and April, depending on location.

Asus also announced a range of new cloud service called AOCloud for customers to share and stream content between devices. The cloud service also provides remote support for tablets, smartphones and PCs. Asus will aggregate all cloud services on a Web portal.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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