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Asus FonePad Review

By Sohail Qaisar | Small Business

Asus FonePad Review image Asus FonepadAsus FonePad ReviewIf you’re a fan of reading the informative tech reviews, then you’ll enjoy reading the review of this latest Asus FonePad. The folks at Asus have packed in a brand new, low power consuming 1.2 GHz Intel Atom processor with a massive battery and full 3G phone functionality into a seven-inch tablet – they’re calling it the FonePad.

The FonePad was built with the intention to give the user a hybrid experience: allowing them to have an immersive entertainment experience while having the ability to make calls and such.

At first look, the only problem I imagine people would have with this device is holding it up to their ear while making calls like a regular phone because of its size – you should definitely use the included mic headphones or invest in a Bluetooth headset to evade the unending ridicule you would be subject to.

Design

The FonePad is an impressive looking gadget with a premium feel. The vertical orientation makes for an easy fit into one hand while you use the other to navigate. Above the screen there is a horizontal slit in the black border surrounding the display next to the camera, this is where the ear speaker is housed in case you choose to use the FonePad like a regular phone: underneath the display is the Asus logo. To the sides, the border is half the width in comparison to the top and bottom.

A very narrow metal trim wraps around the device on the bottom, on which there is a microphone and a partial cut-out for the 35mm audio jack. The back cover is fixed, made from a Matt-finished metal that has a rather deep bezel around the sides housing the rest of the 35mm jack cut-out and the charging port at the bottom. The power button and volume rocker are the only hard buttons, housed on the top left, along the bezel with the same finish as the rest of the back.

There is an extruding rim surrounding the main camera that serves to protect the lens from picking up unnecessary scratches. Right above the camera on the top, there is a piece of the back that comes out for the Micro SIM and Micro SD cards.

Performance & Usability

For the past four weeks, the FonePad has become my go-to device for browsing through applications and playing games, even though the performance gets a little jittery sometimes while playing 3D games such as Real Racing 3.

AnTuTu results state the screen density to be three points shy of the alleged 216dpi, which is a result of the 1280 x 800 screen resolution. It’s the same as the Nexus 7, but way behind the 323dpi put up by the Nexus 7.2, also made in partnership with Asus.

By default it does not come with flash support since Android announced that ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) would be the last to support the format, but of course there are a few work-rounds through which you can stream videos and music. Websites like YouTube have several walk-through videos but you’ll obviously need another platform to watch them on, initially.

There is a 3.1MP main camera as well as a 1.2MP front-facing camera. The main camera can handle daytime photography fairly well, but in any low-light situation, all bets are off. Images have too much noise and light sources distort easily, making it very hard to take a photograph of an object or a person against the light.

With the stock camera application on the FonePad, you can switch between the front and main camera easily. The application also allows the user to add a few effect filters, control exposure, white balance and picture size apart from different modes for portrait, landscape, night and panoramic shots.

The verdict

When I started reviewing the FonePad, I had my reservations with regard to how practical a seven-inch hybrid would be, I figured the mobility factor would be its Achilles’ heel. It was only once I started using it on a daily basis when I realized that I misjudged it completely. The size makes reading and making notes very easy – a great tool for meetings, especially since it comes with full 3G phone functionality and fits comfortably in jacket pockets.

The combination of a robust battery, with a low-power consuming processor leads to what seems like an unending battery life. Days literally went by without needing to recharge, a huge relief as compared to smartphones that often have to be charged more than once a day.

So, the battery is great, 1GB of RAM is adequate, the processor is nifty enough to compute most tasks simultaneously while not draining too much battery, and the GPU can handle its fair share of games. My only concern with the FonePad now is how long it can stay relevant considering that the Nexus 7.2, also made by Asus, is now available in stores with a much higher screen resolution, Android 4.2.2 and more processing power.

Meanwhile, Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Mega. A 6.3-inch tablet that is similar to the FonePad, which strives to deliver an immersive entertainment experience with phone functionality. It may also be worth mentioning here that locally the Nexus 7.2 is priced below the FonePad – the latter however makes up for its performance shortcomings through superior connectivity.

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