Asus has been showing off a device called the Padfone since May. Now chairman Jonney Shih says it’s on track to launch in early 2012 and it will come with Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software.
The Padfone is a device that combines the features of a smartphone and a tablet in the most literal possible way. At first it looks like a typical 10 inch Android tablet — until you flip open a compartment and remove the smartphone with a 4.3 inch display that was hiding under the hood.
The phone is actually the brains of the operation. That means you don’t need to sync your phone and your tablet to share contacts, email messages, music, or other data — all of the data is on the phone so you can put it in your pocket and take it with you.
But when you slide the phone into the tablet dock, you get the benefits of the larger 10 inch display for watching video, surfing the web, reading books, or just about any other activity.
A few months ago we’d heard that the Padfone was expected by the end of 2011 — but it looks like that date has slipped. Still, 2012 isn’t that far away. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of this device at CES in January.