We took a step outside the MWC premises today to pay Asus a visit, who had their launch event away from the crowds, at The Rock Museum across the Plaza d'Espana.
As soon as we sneaked into the auditorium, Asus Chairman Jonney Shih took to the stage to tell us about "The Next Transformation."
Of course, the next generation of devices in the EeePad Transformer family have been awash in rumor, but all speculation was laid to rest as two new devices were revealed on the stage in Barcelona this morning.
Before we delve into the details, it's worth noting the company has changed the Eee Pad Transformer naming scheme to "Transformer Pad", probably in an attempt to avoid the kind of lengthy names the likes of which Samsung typically laden some of their devices with. It also could logically be the result of Hasbro's lawsuit against Asus when the Transformer Prime name was all the rage.
Right, on with the show. The Asus Transformer Pad 300 Series broke cover to accompany its larger sibling the Infinity 700 series (which appeared at CES). Alongside the expected tablet/dock combo, the 300 is a quad-core device in the same vein as the Transformer Prime, albeit with an LTE radio now concealed within its metal body for an added speed boost.
The 300 Series comes with a 10.1" WXGA IPS display and 1.2MP camera on the front, an 8MP f2.2-endowed camera on the back and when plugged into the keyboard dock, promises battery life exceeding 15 hours (from the stand-alone tablet length of 10 hours). It will be available in red, black and white and is expected to come to market sometime in Q2, along with the 700 series.
The device everyone was waiting for also took to the stage, as the Padfone was finally realized in its finished form. Since its multiple appearances last year, the specs have been refreshed somewhat.
Now running Android Ice Cream Sandwich and rocking Qualcomm's latest 1.5GHz dual-core S4 chip, the 'phone' half of the Padfone system uses a 4.3" qHD SuperAMOLED display. There's also 1GB of RAM, an 8MP auto-focus camera and a front-facing VGA camera.
Now here's where it gets interesting, plug the 4.3" Padfone into the Padfone Station and in seconds the content on the screen scales to fit the tablet's 10.1" WXGA (1280x800) display, on top of that the battery-life is extended five-fold and the front facing camera gets upped to a 1.3MP unit. By adding the keyboard dock to the equation too, the battery life extends yet again to supposedly nine times greater than the standalone Padfone.
Jonney Shih, known for his theatrical presentation style didn't leave it there however and amidst his demonstration of the Padfone's new stylus, he revealed its secondary function, a Bluetooth handset. The 'ta-da' moment of the unveiling wasn't wasted on the crowd however, in real-world use, there's every chance this feature might not catch on due to the peculiar look of talking to a pen.
We took some time to look at the Padfone in a little more detail. Here's our hands-on of both the phone and tablet experiences:
The Padfone as a standalone device
The Padfone in use whilst docked in the Padfone Station
The GSM capable version of the Padfone will be coming to market in April this year, with an LTE variant scheduled for early Q3 release.