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October 16, 2012

ASUS PadFone 2 Makes First Appearance in Taiwan

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

It first made an appearance in Taipei with ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, and later on with chairman Jonney Shih in Milan. We're talking here about the PadFone 2, and not only does it look a bit familiar, but it's also packing some interesting tricks under its chassis and a promise of more to come later.

The PadFone 2 may seem familiar, as some of the earlier word leaked about the product appears to be proven right with this multi-city exhibition. It's packing a wide variety of upgrades over the PadFone, with a new 4.7 inch Super IPS panel display showing in 720p resolution and a surprising 550 nits of brightness thanks to an assist from Sharp's (News - Alert) IGZO technology. The PadFone 2 also took a step up in processor power, with a quad-core APQ8064 from Qualcomm taking the place of the PadFone's dual-core processor. It's also boasting two gigabytes of RAM (News - Alert), several flavors of internal storage, 50 gigabytes of ASUS WebStorage for two years--kind of makes up for the total lack of a microSD port--and several connectivity options which will reportedly vary by region on an as yet unannounced schedule.

Better yet, the PadFone 2 is also bringing out a 13 megapixel rear camera that in itself is something of an achievement as it offers up 1080p video capability in 30 fps, but will also shoot 720p at 60 fps, and can even take up to 100 continuous shots without losing resolution. Plus, there's a 1.2 megapixel front camera for all those videoconferencing needs, and a slimmed-down PadFone Station slate to plug the PadFone 2 into. The reason why the PadFone Station slimmed down may not be welcome to some, however, as the reason behind the slimming is mostly related to the loss of the docking bay cover.

While the PadFone 2 runs on the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, ASUS has already mentioned an upgrade to Jelly Bean in the near future. So those wanting a go-round with the latest and greatest as far as Google's (News - Alert) operating system goes will have their chance soon.

The PadFone 2's availability, meanwhile, will start off in Taiwan next week for the black version, and a white version will follow later. Some reports suggest that Hong Kong will also be in on the first launch. As for the rest of the planet, that's a bit more of a gray area as yet, with a wider launch likely to follow ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The inevitable question the PadFone 2 will have to answer is, as ever, can it compete with the new iPad? While it's certainly packing a surprisingly impressive camera alongside some reasonably solid stats in terms of the rest of the hardware loadout, the prices are also pretty aggressive. The PadFone 2, with the station, unsubsidized, starts at $610 and goes to $750 based on the storage capacity selected, and adding on the slate bundle is an extra $210 per. These are iPad prices and then some we're talking about. Yes, there's the added advantage of getting both phone and tablet in one package, but we're still talking about what looks like $820 in the early going to get a phone and tablet together. The lack of a keyboard dock doesn't improve the situation either.

The ASUS PadFone 2 is an exciting idea, but it's going to find a very competitive market for tablets and smartphones alike waiting, and only so much to recommend it.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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