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ASUS' new Fonepads are solid tablets, but still awkward for making calls

Sarah Silbert
06.02.14
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ASUS' new Fonepad 7 and 8 are sleek, well-built Android tablets equipped with 3G connectivity and dual SIM slots, along with a speaker and mic. Whether making calls on a gigantic slate is something you're into is another question, but if you're at all interested in a tablet that can pull double duty as your handset, ASUS' products are the best ones you could ask for. And they work quite well as tablets, too.

Gallery: ASUS Fonepad hands-on | 13 Photos

Announced at Computex in Taiwan earlier today, the Fonepad 7 and 8 are updates to last year's Fonepad 7 -- both sport 64-bit Intel processors for improved power, efficiency and speed. It's impossible to draw conclusions about a tablet's performance based on a few minutes of use, but basic Android 4.4 (KitKat) navigation on both Fonepads felt as smooth as you'd expect. On the 1,280 x 800 IPS display, colors are extremely crisp and vivid as well.

The larger Fonepad 8 is definitely the more premium of the two, with a dimpled texture on the back as opposed to the Fonepad 7's simple rubberized finish. The bezels are extremely narrow, which makes gripping the tabs with one hand relatively easy. At a show full of run-of-the-mill Android tablets, these two definitely stand out.

While both devices are quite thin and light, there's no getting around it: Holding a 7- or 8-inch slab up to your face to make calls will never feel natural. If you mostly communicate via text -- or if you're content to use the speakerphone -- this won't be a huge problem, but the Fonepads' size is definitely not ideal for lengthy calls.

Fortunately, both tablets have much more going for them than just the phone functionality; they're attractive, with premium specs to boot, and dual front speakers make them ideal for streaming music and watching movies. ASUS is the master of multifunctional devices -- seriously, check out this phone-laptop hybrid also unveiled at the show -- and the Fonepads are high-quality, if unexciting, Android tablets.

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