ASUS is breaking out its phone lineup at CES in a big way. The new "ZenFone" series is coming in 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch versions to suit just about anybody, and each one of these new devices will be sold in a variety of metallic colors. Features and specs vary a bit between models, but the basic gist is that you pick your screen size and work up from there. All of them are on the low end and aimed at price-conscious buyers.
Asus likes to explore unusual designs for its Android devices, as one look at the Padfone X will tell you. Another fresh take on mobile devices announced at CES comes in the form of the Asus Transformer Book Duet. This is a convertible laptop/tablet hybrid that dual-boots Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2. It also packs some serious laptop-grade hardware.
Asus has been making new versions of the Padfone every few months, but none of them have ever officially come to American shores. Well, that changes with the new Padfone X. This device will be available on AT&T in the not too distant future.
The Padfone X will have a 5-inch 1080p screen when in phone mode, but like past devices in its lineage, can be docked into a larger tablet shell.
Spend a little time in the technology industry and you'll begin to dread December. It's the time when everyone and their grandmother's PR agent invites you to go to an off-floor presentation in Las Vegas to talk about the latest advances in iPhone accessories. ASUS isn't quite that bad, but their CES teaser is a little strange nonetheless. I'm going to assume that the Statue of Liberty in the following promotional video is the one from the New York, New York casino.
If you're looking for a tablet with world-beating specs, one of the highest-resolution screens available, and impressive expansion options, you'll want to look at Amazon today. The new ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity, with its NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor and 2560x1600 screen, is fifty bucks off the retail price. You can pick it up on Amazon for $399.95, with free two-day shipping if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber. It's unclear if this is a sale or a new regular price.
I've been lusting after ASUS' ambitious Padfone devices ever since they were announced way back in 2012. But since ASUS is a company that focuses on its home market first, we haven't seen hide nor hair of the docking smartphone-tablet hybrids over here in the United States. According to an Engadget interview with ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, that could change as soon as the second quarter of next year.
The interview is a lengthy one, but the juicy bit is near the end: Shen says that ASUS is partnering with a "big operator" in the United States to launch the next iteration of the Padfone on our shores.
As we saw late last week, ASUS is looking to bring its unique Padfone concept to different form factors and price points. Enter the Padfone Mini, a new entry in the series that retains the dockable phone-tablet hybrid idea but shrinks it down to make it more affordable. The phone itself isn't much smaller at 4.3", but the tablet dock now has a 7-inch screen instead of 10, not to mention a vertical orientation.
The Padfone form factor is a unique one, and even if it hasn't set the world on fire, I'm glad to see that ASUS continues to upgrade and modify it. The latest iteration appears to be a midrange phone/tablet combo: reliable tipster Evleaks showed a new PadFone Mini model on his Twitter account, with a 4.3" phone body and what appears to be a 7-inch tablet shell.
PadFone mini 4.3, 2013 pic.twitter.com/HSv1ILdY4G
— @evleaks (@evleaks) December 7, 2013
There's no detailed technical information available, though Evleaks does mention a 2013 release.
The 1080p update to the Nexus 7 is all the rage at the moment, but that doesn't make the original Tegra 3 version from 2012 any less worthy. And since it's now being discounted just about everywhere, it's considerably more worthy than it might otherwise be. Case in point: Groupon is offering the WiFi tablet on its online-only shopping portal at $119 for the 16GB version, $149 for 32GB.
These are new tablets according to the description, which technically puts the discount at $80 and $100, respectively.
Asus has been in the business of making Android tablets for as long as it has been a viable business. The company has certainly won praise for its efforts on Google's Nexus tablets, but Asus still makes its own separate tablets in the Transformer line. The newest entrant in that group is the Transformer Pad TF701T. It's not the catchiest name ever slapped on a wedge of metal and glass, but it's not the name that we're interested in – it's the experience.