Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Computex 2011: Asustek announces Padfone, bundling smartphone with tablet PC

Taiwan-based notebook brand vendor Asustek Computer, at its pre-Computex press conference, announced its Padfone, bundling a 4.3-inch smartphone with a 10-inch tablet PC for an estimated price at US$799-1,000. The two devices will adopt Google's next generation operating system codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich paired with Qualcomm's processor and will be launched in December in time for the year-end holiday season.

Although Asustek did not showcase the device at the conference, company chairman Jonney Shih held an engineering sample of the device to explain the concept of the new products. Shih pointed out that the Padfone will allow consumers to choose whichever screen size they desire to display their content on, while the tablet PC's battery can be used to extend the usage time of the smartphone plus the smartphone is also capable of connecting the tablet PC to Internet through its 3G module.

Although the Padfone's upstream OEM/ODM is currently unknown, sources from the retail channel believe it should be either Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) or Pegatron Technology.

The sources believe that Asustek's idea of Padfone is meant to boost its smartphone's brand name through tablet PC sales, but since Asustek's smartphone is not a mainstream product in the IT market, while the price is set at rather high level, Asustek is believed to be pushing the Padfone mainly in niche markets with the major purpose to show its design capability.

As for Asustek's Eee PC Transformer, which had sales of 300,000 units in the first two months after the launch, the company is soon to upgrade the device's operating system to Android 3.1 with its Eee Pad Slider to start selling in July with prices set in between US$650-800 depending on specifications. The company's 7-inch Eee Pad MeMO 3D will appear in the fourth quarter, featuring 3D capabilities without the need of a 3D glasses, while the device also comes with MeMIC accessory set for playing music and enable phone capability.

Asustek is currently focusing on expanding both its software and hardware R&D teams and is confident of shipping two million Eee Pads to achieve 10% share in non-Apple tablet PC shipments in 2011.

In addition to tablet PCs, Asustek is also launching Eee PC X101, featuring an Intel Atom processor and MeeGo operating system for a price of US$199, while the Windows 7-based model will be priced at US$310-350 and selling in July.

Asustek also announced new UX and N series notebooks as well as WAVI Xtion, a motion detection machine for home entertainment and a 27-inch HD quality Wintel-based all-in-one PC.

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