If you think this is a morning of major tech announcements, then you are not disappointed. Computex 2011 is now underway and tech companies far and wide have come to show off their upcoming products. The first of such companies is Asus, the maker of the hot-selling Asus Transformer tablet.
Jumping back a week, I had previously speculated that Asus' teaser product could be its first Tegra 3/Kal-El tablet. The company had originally hinted at an August release for this tablet but, hey, the faster the better. However, it looks like the device will be...a combination of a tablet and a phone. I am slightly disappointed.)
The device, named the Padfone, is essentially a smartphone that docks into a bigger screen. The result is a tablet computer. The docking mechanism is not a "dock" per say, but more of an insert in the tablet to accommodate the smartphone. I will give major props to Asus for its idea, but will defer judgement until I see its execution plan. As the history of the Motorola Atrix attests to, a great concept will fail if not properly executed. Morotola's docking station for the Atrix would have been very popular, if not for the high price and crippled capabilities.
Actually, this device is similar to the Motorola Atrix on a conceptual level. Whereas Motorola's dock allows the smartphone to become a computer (either the laptop dock or the desktop dock), Asus' allows the smartphone to become a tablet. It is more similar to Motorola's laptop dock -- just that instead of a combination of screen + battery + keyboard, Asus simply opted for the screen + battery.
But I'd say the "transformation" into a tablet is more applicable than a computer. The reason is very simple: the divide between a computer's processing power (x86 architecture) is hundredfolds more than a smartphone's processing power (ARM architecture). Consequently, the smartphone is not able to meet the needs of most computer owners. One would need to purchase a smartphone and a computer. But there is literally not technology divide between smartphones and tablets -- manufacturers use very similar hardware (e.g. how many are using the Tegra 2 chip today?). The main problem, then, will be keeping weight and price as reasonable levels.