One of the main reasons I bought the Asus Transformer Android Tablet is because it has an optional keyboard docking station with an extended battery. This together with the tablet will hopefully create an ultimate portable productivity and entertainment device.
- Full QWERTY keyboard with unique Android Function keys and touchpad
- Two USB ports
- Docking station battery
- Built-in SD Card reader
The top of the dock is taken up by the keyboard, touchpad, and touchpad buttons. Along the top of the keyboard are the Android function keys. The only key that is missing is an on and off button. If the tablet goes to sleep you either have to close the lid and reopen it, or reach around to the side of the tablet to turn the transformer on and off.
The right side of the keyboard dock has a single USB port hidden behind a little door, and the SD card slot with a dummy SD card in it.
The left side of the keyboard dock has another USB port, and the charging port.
I really like how the dock perfectly matches the tablet and when together they fold into a very nice looking netbook.
So how do you test performance with a keyboard dock? Their is not much to do here, as long as all the buttons work we should be happy, right? Well, this dock also includes an extra battery so I will test that as well.
I have had the dock for several weeks now and I have had very few issues. Their will be times when I am typing and the cursor will jump to another part of the screen, but I think I might be accidentally touching the touch pad with the palm of my hand. Also if I have changed the on-screen keyboard then an annoying message appears every time I dock the tablet telling me to switch back to the Asus on-screen keyboard. I prefer the Android keyboard so I ignore the message.
On to the battery test. Since there isn’t an app yet that does a battery test I had to invent my own. For this test I loaded up the Transformer with a bunch of movies and played them one after another until the battery died. I also set the screen brightness, and volume to 50% and turned off WiFi. I started the test a 7:33 am and it took all the way until 10:29 pm for the battery to run out. That is an amazing 14 hours 56 minutes. It scored way above the rest of the tablets, but this is because it is using two batteries compared to the rest that only have one.
One thing Asus could have done to make the Keyboard dock even better is to add larger speakers. The speakers on the Asus Transformer are very small and do not get very loud. If Asus had added speakers to the keyboard this would have really helped to boost the sound of the system and improve the entertainment value.
Another aspect about the dock that concerns me is the potential for scratching the screen when the tablet is docked. Asus has lined the inside of the cradle with some felt or something to help protect the screen, but it does not seem to be enough. Fortunately, I have a screen protector on my tablet and as you can see their are some marks where the tablet an dock touch. I don’t know if the screen is strong enough to resist the scratching, but I am glad I don’t have to find out the hard way.
The Asus Transformer dock comes with the same lame 1 year warranty that the tablet has. I am still waiting for a company to really stand behind their products, but it does not look like Asus is stepping up to the plate. With no moving parts, this tablet should last a really long time, and I would like to see a 5+ year warranty to show that Asus has faith in the build quality of its products.
Support comes in the standard forms of phone, email, and website help. I have not needed to use phone or email support, but I have been on their website to download software and updates for the tablet. The website is fairly easy to navigate, but the software that is available is not up to date. For example, Asus released the Android 3.1 OS for the tablet about a week ago, but their website still does not have the update for download. Since my tablet has not downloaded it automatically I am anxious for the download so I can apply it manually.
I don’t know about you, but I am completely happy with the way the keyboard dock and tablet work together. If you are also interested in this kind of setup I really recommend you jump on it.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|