Why the Asus PadFone might be the strange, hybrid future of computing

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Taiwan’s Asus, best known as the world’s fifth-largest manufacturer of PCs, just released a succinct introduction to its PadFone Infinity, in the form of the video above. The PadFone, now in its third iteration, is a simple concept: What if, instead of buying a separate phone and tablet, or some sort of compromise device like a mutant 8-inch phablet, your phone could simply become a tablet.

The PadFone Infinity consists of a top of the line phone—it has the same ridiculously high-resolution screen as other phones with as many pixels as an HD TV—and a tablet into which it can “dock.” On its own, the tablet can do nothing, but paired with its phone, it allows the user to continue whatever they were doing, uninterrupted. It’s a solution to the current half-measures for creating a consistent workspace and pool of files across mobile devices, which at present is only possible through syncing via the internet.

The context in which a PadFone would be useful is this: People who want to get real work done on their mobile devices. Increasingly, this is the direction the Android operating system that powers the PadFone is moving. Android now allows rapid switching between applications, keeping more than one application open at once, and other features usually endemic to desktop operating systems. Jumping between applications is how most information workers get things done.

That’s also the only way to make sense of the price tag of the PadFone Infinity, which is 999 euros (about $1,300). That’s as expensive as a good “ultrabook” laptop computer. But when you consider that the PadFone’s 10-inch tablet could be a PC replacement, when paired with a keyboard, it starts to make sense. In the post-PC world, our computers are assembled from parts—phone, tablet, accessories—and are all the more versatile for it.