We've already discussed ASUS' fun-loving ZenFone and PadFone Mini, but for those who want a little more out of their gadgets-that-do-more-than-just-one-thing, the Transformer Book Duet should be worth a look. ASUS calls its "four devices in one" since it's an Android tablet, Android laptop, Windows tablet, and Windows laptop, but you can take that for what it's worth – I think it's kind of pushing it. It's just a tablet and a laptop, silly marketing people.
We just got back from a meeting at ASUS's CES suite, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the full portfolio of the company's new Android products (apart from Padfone X, which sadly sat walled off in a glass case). Of great interest to some of you, no doubt, are the company's new ZenFone handsets. Johnny Shih, ASUS's enthusiastic chairman, announced the ZenFone 4, 5, and 6, would be priced at $99, $149, and $199, respectively.
If you know anything about ASUS, it's probably that they love to put things in other things. I'm pretty sure they pioneered putting phones inside of tablets, turning tablets into laptops, and other forms of turducken technology. In true ASUS form, the company announced not one, not two, but three new turduckentech devices yesterday: the PadFone Mini, PadFone X, and Transformer Book Duet.
As the smallest, most agile, and most affordable of the three, the PadFone Mini is ASUS' entry-level PadFone device.
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.