Is the Eee Pad Transformer Keyboard Dock a Winner?

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Dave from www.geekanoids.co.uk

Is the Eee Pad Transformer Keyboard Dock a Winner?

Having used the Eee Pad Transformer for some time as a stand-alone tablet device, I felt it was time to move on and see if the keyboard dock really added any usability and value to the package.

The keyboard dock does not had any processing power to the Eee Pad Transformer. Instead it gives a more traditional laptop or netbook type experience, with some additional battery life thrown in for good measure. The docking experience is quite hard to master at first, with a firm push to get the tablet to lock on to the keyboard. However, after half a dozen times it becomes second nature. The first thing that is very appealing, is that in its closed format the device is very portable and light.

When you open the tablet, that has now transformed into a mini laptop, the angle of the screen is near on perfect. In my particular case I had set a security pin number to unlock the device. So I expected to type with four digit number with the keyboard, this was not the case and you still have to do unlock the Eee Pad by touching the screen. This is not a big deal, but it feels unnatural using the touchscreen at such an angle. I’m used to holding a touchscreen in my hand whilst using it, not with it propped up and wobbling around. I soon got used to this, but feel that you should be prepared for a short transitional period for minor idiosyncrasies like this.

The keyboard is very well constructed. A mix of plastics and metal, with a nice brushed finish to the outer rim. It also adds a couple of USB ports, an SD card reader and an additional charging port. Charging the keyboard is done very intelligently. You can charge either device separately, or when docked together. In their format, the tablet is charged first so that you can easily pick it up and go. Once the tablet portion is charged, then how is diverted to the keyboard battery. I found battery life to be greatly extended whilst using the Eee Pad Transformer as a mini laptop, easily achieving the manufacturers claimed 16 hours of use between charges.

Usability of the keyboard is nothing short of brilliant. Not only do you get a very responsive keyboard, but also a nice size trackpad that supports multitouch gestures. In its docked format the screen displays a standard mouse pointer, moving this around is smooth and clicking icons with the trackpad button feels very natural. Back to the keyboard, the keys are a little on the small side, but well spaced and very easy to build up an impressive typing speed. There are also an array of custom shortcut keys, where you would normally find function keys on a traditional keyboard. Amongst these along the top row are back, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, track and disable, brightness, screen grab, settings, track and volume controls, and a lock screen key. On either side of the spacebar are more custom keys for accessing the homescreen, search and menu functions.

In closing I feel it appropriate to share the most common question I have received via e-mail so far. “Is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer just like a netbook with a detachable screen?” In answer to this I would prefer to describe this device as much more than that. It is a powerful tablet-based device with an attachable keyboard, that adds a great deal of functionality and makes it much more usable and productive.

By Dave Cryer, www.geekanoids.co.uk

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  • http://twitter.com/DjDevine1 Daniel Devine

    Mine is ordered, will get it in 2 weeks, delivered today to my Aunts!!! I can’t wait for it. Amazon haven’t shipped the keyboad though which is a bit odd…..