If there’s one device that’s caught the imaginations of those looking for a real shift in the mobile space, it’s the ASUS Padfone. This docking ICS phone/tablet/netbook combo has wowed onlookers since the concept was introduced last summer. ASUS showed off a production device at Mobile World Congress and vowed to ship in April, and it looks like they’re sticking to that for their home territory of Taiwan. Residents can begin placing pre-orders for the Ice Cream Sandwich phone tomorrow, and it’s set to ship on April 20th.
ASUS hadn’t been very forthcoming about prices for the phone and its various accessories up to this point. Now we’ve finally got some hard numbers, though you’ll have to translate them from the New Taiwan Dollar. The phone itself is a rather typical NT$17,990 ($610). The docking accessories aren’t being sold separately at the moment, but the price of the phone, tablet dock and Bluetooth earpiece/stylus together are NT$24,980 ($847). You can throw the keyboard dock in for a complete set at the price of NT$28,901 ($980) and those who preorder get a free swappable battery. All in all it’s not a terrible price, considering how much hardware is there – if you think of it as a typical high-end smartphone ($650) plus an Android tablet ($400) plus a netbook ($300) plus a Bluetooth headset ($50) it comes out as a steal.
ASUS hasn’t mentioned when or if it intends to ship the device outside of Taiwan, but with a world-friendly HSPA+ radio, expansion to other Asian territories and eventually Europe seems like a safe bet. Unfortunately, the Padfone’s American prospects aren’t so shining: ASUS has yet to build the relationships with carriers that are a necessary evil for wide hardware release in the US. They could always sell it unlocked, as Sony has been in the habit of doing, and we hope that they do so. Soon.