The newest smartphone and tablet docking station combo from Asus, the PadFone X, can be ordered starting June 6 exclusively from AT&T stores and at its website, the carrier announced Wednesday.
The PadFone X can be purchased to work with a single data plan for both devices.
The station is priced at $199 with a two-year agreement or as little as $29.80 per month under one AT&T Next installment plan. That plan would cost $357 after 12 months, at which time it can be traded in. The full cost over 20 months without a contract would be $596.
The tablet docking station — known as the PadFone Station — functions only when the PadFone X smartphone is docked by sliding the phone into a pocket on the rear of the Station's 9-in. display. When the two are docked, the combo can function over Wi-Fi and LTE cellular, including for phone calls.
The Asus PadFone X smartphone and tablet docking station combo.
Most Android apps on the smartphone will be seamlessly resized to fit the PadFone's display.
Meanwhile, the PadFone X smartphone has a 5-in. full HD display and runs Android 4.4. It can operate with or without the PadFone Station over AT&T's nationwide LTE network as well as Wi-Fi.
First announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January by AT&T, the carrier has created promotional YouTube videos that focus heavily on describing the versatility of the PadFone X smartphone-docking station technology for workers and road warriors.
One video shows a worker leaving home to attend a business meeting and then using the combination smartphone-tablet for a video chat afterwards.
AT&T shows off most of the functions in a separate one minute video.
Asus makes other versions and sizes of the PadFone but the PadFone X provides dual front speakers and a 13 megapixel rear camera, as well a 2 megapixel front camera. It is powered by a Snapdragon 800 2.3 Ghz quad-core processor, with 16 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for 64 GB of added storage.
Other vendors have offered similar combo devices, including Motorola with the Atrix, but the concept of having a smartphone dock with a tablet hasn't been a big success, according to analysts.
Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Kantar WorldPanel, called the PadFone X a "more modern and refined version of the Atrix."
Still, she questioned whether it makes sense for budget conscious customers to buy the PadFone X when it's possible to get a separate smartphone and a fully functional tablet, such as the Moto G and Nexus 7, for about the same $357 Next price AT&T is charging for the PadFone X. "Overall I see the PadFone X as a 1+1=1 product and not a 1+1=2,"she said.
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