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(Pocket-lint) - Is it a phone, or is it a tablet? Well actually, it has the power to be both. That’s the story of the PadFone, a new gadget that’s been announced by Asus at Computex in Taipei, and as you would expect we’ve tracked down the device to see what’s what up close and personal.

Before we go any further we just want to say that what was shown at Asus’ press conference was an early prototype. So early in fact that it didn’t switch on, the software that it eventually will be running hasn’t been designed yet, and we’ve been told that both the phone and the tablet design might change “substantially before the launch.”

Still those small details aside, we do have plenty to share thanks to a chatty demo girl who shared some titbits with us and a model that kinda worked. 

Pocket-lintasus padfone hands on image 8

Firstly the rear flap won't look like it does now. Secondly instead of two connectors there might only be one for docking it with the tablet part and that's part of why they're not talking specs at all.

The unit they had wasn't working, so it's really hard to say much at all about it and of course the other problem is that Android isn't where it needs to be right now – ie Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t available yet. That’s going to be the important ingredient for the tablet and the phone to talk to each other even though the tablet is likely to be a dumb screen.

From what we understand the switching part will be part of the OS, so it should work with other devices like the PadFone. That means it's not a custom Asus feature, but something Android is developing - exciting.

From what we’ve seen we’re sceptical about how seamless it'll be. Asus suggest that you just plonk the phone into the tablet and everything will just work, but in tablet mode instead of phone mode.

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Oh, and remember the Asus Garmin deal of yesteryear? It'll ship with Garmin’s navigation software according to our demo girl, as that deal still stands.

As for when it is likely to be available? We've told expect it in the shops for Christmas. 

Writing by Lars-Göran Nilsson.