Asus is known for its hybrid devices.
Its Transformer line merges tablet and laptop, while the Padfone has been an effort to allow a phone to plug in to a larger screen and become a tablet.
Now comes the Fonepad, a 7-inch Android tablet that also makes phone calls. Although it looks like a standard 7-inch tablet, it has built-in telephony features as well as an Intel processor.
Asus Chairman Jonney Shih says that the company is trying new things to adapt to changing lifestyles, but insists the company isn’t just merging things to see what can be mixed.
“There is reason behind it,” Shih said in an interview. Most people spend a lot of time using their portable device as a computer and very little time making calls. So why, Shih reckons, should the screen be so small?
The size of people’s hands and their pockets certainly comes to mind. But Shih thinks there are people willing to carry a primary device that is the size of a tablet.
Nor is Asus alone in putting phone capabilities into a clearly tablet-size product. Samsung is including phone capabilities in the global version of its just-introduced Galaxy Note 8.0.
Asus is competing particularly hard on price. It plans to sell an 8 gigabyte version of the device for $249 unsubsidized. That’s not much more than a standard tablet without a built-in cellular modem.
And while Asus is a longtime Intel partner for laptops and netbooks, the expansion into tablets is a welcome addition as the chipmaker struggles to land big-name mobile customers.
The device is slated to go on sale in Asia in March, Europe in April and the United States shortly after that.
Asus also introduced the latest in the Padfone line.