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The Asus Padfone: Where no phone has gone before (photos)

Asus moves beyond the Transformer Prime with a device that starts as a phone and can end as a notebook. CNET goes hands on at Mobile World Congress.

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Kent German
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More than just a phone

BARCELONA, Spain--A lot of of companies like to describe their products as different, but the Asus Padfone is in a class by itself. Asus took cues from its own Transformer Prime and Motorola's Laptop Dock when designing the device. Though it starts out as a phone, you can slide into the Asus Padstation for a tablet experience. And if that's not enough, you can turn the tablet into a notebook by connecting a separate keyboard accessory. If you're a little confused, I don't blame you, but this exclusive hands-on photo gallery from our friends at CNET Asia should explain it all.

Though Asus has chosen Mobile World Congress to officially debut the PadFone, we first heard about the concept last year. With a standard candy bar design, the handset doesn't look too unusual, but look a little closer and you'll discover that there is a lot to see.

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The Padfone has 4.3-inch qHD display with a 960x540-pixel resolution. Fortunately, Asus packed the handset with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). Touch controls stand in for physical buttons, and a VGA camera lens sits just to the right of the speaker.
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From behind

Here you can see the Padfone resting on top of the Padstation. The handset's 8-megapixel sits just above the LED flash. CNET Asia reports that a textured surface made the device comfortable to hold. The rectangular panel on the right side of the tablet is where the phone slides in.
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Middle child

The Padfone (center) is bigger than the iPhone 4S (left), but smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (right).
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A sleeker finish

Unlike the Galaxy Nexus (right), the Padfone doesn't have the bump on its rear side.
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Ports that matter

On the Padfone's left side are Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI ports. They accommodate the necessary cables, of course, but they're also the connection points for the Padstation.
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More controls

On the top end sit the Padfone's power control and a 3.5mm headset jack.
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Take a look inside

Behind the battery cover is the SIM card slot and the microSD expansion slot for cards up to 32GB. And, yes, this is where you put the 1,520mAh battery, too.
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Ready for docking

When you're ready to slide the Padfone into the tablet, just press the latch on its top side. Pressing the latch will eject the tablet when you're finished.
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Making it click

To insert the phone, just slide it into the dock until it clicks into place.
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Keep on shooting

The holes on the tablet's door allow you to use the Padfon'e camera when it's docked.
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Asus says that the tablet won't just resize the phone's display, it will also automatically format the content and features for a tablet experience. The 10.1-inch display has a 1,280X800-pixel resolution.
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Another camera

The Padstation has a 1.3-megapixel camera above its display that can film in HD.
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Keep on connecting

The central port on the bottom of the Padstation is where you connect the Station Dock Keyboard. Asus says the experience will be much like with the Transformer Prime.

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