KT Spider transformer phone is more than meets the eye
Korea Telecom has launched the KT Spider, a transforming smartphone that can slot into a tablet, laptop or game-pad
Korea Telecom has launched the Spider, a Motorola Atrix-like smartphone that can slot into a tablet, laptop or game-pad for extra functionality.
The phone is a powerful 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm handset running Android Gingerbread. It’s generously provisioned with microSD support, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, which is somehow wedged into its svelte 9.34mm thin frame.
As if that wasn’t enough, you also get an 8-megapixel primary camera capable of 1080p video capture and a 3-megapixel secondary.
The display is a crystal clear 4.5-inch capacitive touchscreen at an impressive 1280x800 pixel resolution, but that’s just where things start. Fancy something bigger?
No problem. Slot the phone into the Spider Pad and whatever you were looking at gets enlarged on a 10.1-inch capacitive display, with extra battery back up too.
The KT Spider connects via Micro-HDMI and MicroUSB sockets and the pad dock also has its own built-in speakers for improved audio.
If you want to get some serious work done you need a solid keyboard and a larger screen which you don’t have to hold up. This is where the Spider picks up after the Atrix with its very own laptop dock.
Except this looks to be a better design than the Atrix.
For a start the Spider handset doesn’t sit awkwardly at the back of the dock as with the Atrix, instead it’s implemented in very clever way indeed.
The Spider phone slots in at the front where you’d find an optical track-pad on a conventional laptop.
Plugging into the laptop dock isn’t just about the full Qwerty keyboard either, the dock extends battery life just like the pad and tweaks the interface to be more laptop-oriented, in addition there’s a full-sized USB port. We didn't hear anything about speakers but if the pad had them then chances are good the laptop will too.
The last dock is a Sony PSP style game-pad and unlike its brethren it doesn’t connect via ports but uses a Bluetooth connection to transfer commands to whatever game you’re running.
It’s not all flowers and sunshine, however, thisismynext.com got hands-on with the Spider and had a list of issues to report.
Apparently the ergonomics, material and general build quality of the various docks and attachments isn’t all that hot.
Of particular note the laptop lid hinge failed to impress and the absence of analogue control is very much a sore spot.
More unsettling though is the performance when plugged into the docks, on its own the Spider seems to run its Gingerbread operating system very smoothly, but thisismynext.com explained that when connected to the laptop or pad the interface had many ‘rough edges’, while navigating the home screens displayed discernible lag.
Worst of all the innovative idea of using the phone’s touchscreen as the laptop’s touch-pad isn’t even in a working state at this point, though no doubt KT will get it up and running soon enough.
The Spider will be launching in Korea in either November or December this year, currently the price is pegged at $600 for the phone, $300 for the tablet dock and a mere $22 for the game-pad. A price for the laptop dock is yet to be revealed.
In any case there is no word on a release outside Korea, however, reports suggest KT has generated interest from Samsung, LG and HTC, and the company is now in talks with the possibility of collaborative efforts or licensing on the horizon.
You never know - a cooperative approach with any of the big three mentioned could see a better running and higher-quality Spider coming to the European market in the not-too-distant future.
However, the main stumbling block for the Atrix was the overpriced dock, if KT or any of its potential partners want this thing to take off then costs are going to need a serious review.