Asus unveils wacky PadFone 2 hybrid device

The PadFone 2 follows up the first Asus tablet/phone combo. The gadget's real trick is its ability to slip in and out of a tablet-style docking station.

The Asus PadFone 2 shifts from phone to tablet.

If you thought the Galaxy Note 2 pushes design boundaries, take a gander at the new PadFone 2 from Asus. A thinner version of the first PadFone, this device also morphs from tablet and smartphone on the fly.

Now chances are the Asus PadFone 2 will never hit American shores since the original PadFone didn't either. Perhaps that's why Asus, longtime laptop builder and maker of Google's hot little Nexus 7 tablet, decided to unveil the PadFone 2 in Milan. Of course, it could also have selected the fashionable location as a savvy PR move to emphasize the device's futuristic design.

Indeed, as CNET Asia's Aloysius Low reports, the PadFone 2 will launch first in Taiwan this week ranging in price from $616, (16GB) up to $750(64GB). It will then arrive in Singapore this November.

What makes the PadFone 2 so wild though isn't the Android smartphone's 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 4.7-inch (1280x720) HD IPS LCD display, or even 13-megapixel camera. Its real trick is the gadget's capability to slip in and out of a tablet-style docking station. Weighing a mere 649 grams (1.4 pounds), the station still manages to sport a big 10.1-inch screen and massive 5,000 mAh battery. One bummer: the tablet dock costs extra, $307.

The PadFone 2 enjoyed a splashy launch. Reuben Lee/CNET Asia

This sounds all well and good, but I personally feel that a 10-inch tablet display makes reading tough on hands, wrists, and fellow mass-transit commuters. I also have a fear, perhaps unwarranted, that the phone will slip out of the dock accidentally and crash to the cold, hard, floor. Using a case might ease my misgivings but it better have a way to remote the phone from its dock easily.

Still interested in the Asus PadFone 2 despite my cold feet? Examine it close up and personally to judge for yourself.