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Asus Eee Pad Transformer - Keyboard and Battery Life

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


The Asus Eee Pad Transformer's keyboard peripheral is one of its key differentiators that sets it apart from the rabid pack of Android rivals. It adds just £50 onto the price of the tablet, but improves the package and its flexibility hugely.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Build quality is just as impressive as the tablet too, surprisingly. The top of the keyboard is a metal plate, coloured in the same bronze hue used for the tablet's screen surround. Similarly, the back uses the same embossed plastic as the tablet. When closed, there's a pleasant cohesiveness to the design that reaffirms the Eee Pad Transformer's position as a premium product.

The hinge is bound to become the part that takes the most wear if you're planning on frequently transitioning between this device's tablet and netbook forms, but we're confident it can take the strain. The part that rests on whatever surface the Eee Pad Transformer is laid upon is made from metal and is protected by two little plastic feet that sit at each end of the hinge - which takes up the centre two thirds of the tablet, not the whole length.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

The tablet slots into this hinge, which is fully lined in felt, and is held at three spots - the data/power connector and two stabilising clips. Unlike the now-obsolete iPad keyboard dock, this peripheral lets you angle the screen just as you would with a dedicated netbook, including closing it fully, thereby protecting the screen when travelling. The design and colouring of the Eee Pad Transformer are so consistent that we're sure you could convince most of your less techy friends that it's simply a laptop when in the dock. Those in the know may take its slightly bulbous hinge as a giveaway, but it's no eyesore.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

The keyboard dock uses an isolated-key keyboard with near full size keys. The key action is slightly mushy but certainly distinct enough for speedy touch-typing. Indeed it's comparable to the best netbooks. All of which makes this attachment a huge boon over other tablets - the brilliance of having the ability to bash away at full speed on a proper keyboard really cannot be overstated.

When dealing with casual keyboard duties, the temptation to tap away at the touchscreen rather than use the trackpad is very strong but for longer-form emails and documents the full keyboard obliterates an on-screen virtual alternative. We took the Asus Eee Pad Transformer out for a test drive in that traditional space of the netbook - the train commute - to see how it performs. As with any smaller laptop-style device, accidental disruptive touches of the trackpad were frequent, but there's a hardware button that lets you disable the pad for more accurate typing - which we found indispensable.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

With the troublesome keypad silenced, the keyboard is very comfortable to use, while the docked tablet itself sits very happily on the knees. Unless your knees are completely straight, you'll need to keep your hands on it to avoid it slipping off onto the floor - as all the "brains" of the Eee Pad Transformer are in the tablet rather than the dock, the weight distribution is more top-heavy than a traditional laptop. When laid upon a flat surface though, it doesn't need any such stabilisation.

The benefits of the keyboard dock don't end at typing. It houses a second li-on battery that Asus claims will boost battery life up to 16 hours - double the eight hours of the basic tablet battery. What's more, the dock battery will charge that of the tablet, allowing you to boost its longevity when away from a wall socket.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Unfortunately, it won't charge over a simple connection to your computer, instead requiring the supplied USB adaptor. What's more we found it wouldn't charge using the USB cable and our standard selection of USB plugs designed for smartphones, suggesting it draws more power than the norm. This could be something of a deal breaker were it not for the Transformers other many merits.


March 31, 2011, 6:59 pm

Looks really rather exciting, my problem with all of these android tablets is accessories. If its not an iPad then you cant easily get 3rd party accessories and you're stuck in 2 years when the manufacturer discontinues the line. I have a sony mp3 player that uses a proprietary connector and i look on in envy at my colleagues at work who can just slip their iPods/Phones into nearly every household appliance. Still wouldn't buy Apple but it does make you think


March 31, 2011, 7:35 pm

You're right ChrisB. It's mind-boggling how many accessories there are for Apple's iPhones and iPods. I guess that at least the Transformer will be able to use some netbook/other tablet cases. Just have to hope the batteries in the keyboard dock and tablet itself have good long lifespans.


March 31, 2011, 7:51 pm

I'm not sure why the reviewer was excited by a £50 proprietary wired keyboard. It's certainly not cheap.

Apple's wireless bluetooth one is only £57, or you can buy any bluetooth one from any brand (and some say Apple is closed..). Dealextreme sells perfectly usable keyboards for ~ £15! Wired keyboards are even cheaper than that.


March 31, 2011, 8:03 pm

@gk.pm mostly because it boosts the battery by 6.5 hours. And because of the form factor benefits over a non-tailored solution. But granted, the keyboard I'm using right now is probably worth about £1.50!


March 31, 2011, 8:06 pm

As nice as this tablet is (and a step in the right direction) there are two things wrong with it IMO.

1) Asus really have moved away from the "cheap and cheerful" ideal that they set up with the first Eee PC netbook, £379-£429 is just too expensive for this and I think they should be more aggressivly pricing at around £250-£300, maybe ZTE will resolve this

2) Im starting to get a little "meh" about Tegra 2, it was very much hyped but from what ive read it struggles with some 720p and all 1080p videos and the grpahics chip loses out to the iPad 2. I want a tablet that I can put any video/file into it and it will "just work", so I am hoping the Tegra 3 will step up to this mark (although at this rate itll take until the Tegra 4 is out to push the pricing down to acceptable levels)...


March 31, 2011, 8:23 pm

Looks promising, although the price could do with lowering a little. Asus have the capacity to make this even cheaper so I can't see it not being offered at less money down the line.


March 31, 2011, 8:40 pm


It's not just a keyboard though is it? It's also a second battery, and happens to double up as a screen protector and a stand.

Plugging any old keyboard into a tablet doesn't even come close to replicating this.


March 31, 2011, 9:40 pm

Gk.pm - In addition to what AndrewTR said there is also two USB ports and card reader built in. Both of which I would of liked to be included with the ipad2.. Still, depending on reviews I think this could replace my netbook.

Its strange that you can currently only get the keypad with the 16gb and not 32gb. Why is this? I would prefer the extra storage of the 32gb. How much will the keypad be sold on it's own or is that not a option? Bit daft really.


March 31, 2011, 10:53 pm

Looking at this short review, I think Google should have partnered with Asus instead of Motorola for there first Android tablet based on Honeycomb. Asus is a company with much better manufacturing resources than Motorola.


April 1, 2011, 3:49 am

proprietary connectors? Hello, the apple one is just this. Most other devs now use micro usb. I think this scores because
Keyboard + battery + expansion = 50 quid is cheap
Android device is open, unlike ipad which you have to jailbreak, and continual apple break the JB.
I have one of the $40 DX android pads and it makes a fine wall clock/twitter term.

I'll probably buy this, unless something even better comes out.


April 1, 2011, 12:49 pm

@RipoffBritain, of course we are being ripped off, we always have been with consumer electronics. Although when looking at phone contracts in the US, it by far cancels out

Denis iii

April 1, 2011, 1:49 pm

I like but will wait to see what win8 and win8 tablets bring hopefully next year as I am happy with my Asus G73JH-A1 (which I got for under 950quid all in imported from the states)

Matt McGuire

April 1, 2011, 1:55 pm

@mrg9999 I get the impression the original poster knew the Apple one is proprietary.
It is however one of the few ubiquitous proprietaries, supported in a wide range of cars, stereos, tv, etc.

Any other device which doesn't use a standard usb connector is taking a risk, which more often than not leads to the frustration the OP has with his ageing Sony MP3 player.

Will 4

April 3, 2011, 12:40 am

Bluetooth keyboards don't work well with Android. Yes they work, but there aren't keys for search, home etc. and symbols often don't work.

So this keyboard and trackpad is a no-brainer if you want to use key input, as it will no doubt be optimised for the OS.

Arctic Fox

April 3, 2011, 12:11 pm

@Denis iii

Yes, I've said much the same thing on a couple of threads here at TR, much (it has to be said) to the amusement of some of the other contributors - mainly along the lines of how long I will have to wait! My reasons are straight forward, I want good kit and I am willing to shell out some serious dosh for it. However, then it has to be good enough to replace my laptop - not merely be a content consumption supplement to our existing "computer park" at home. In essence I want something that will cope with serious content creation, replace my Kindle (which I like very much but will be a bit "aged" by then) and can be plugged into our receiver/telly set-up via HDMI to do a good job as our living room pc when we're at home. The kit that is on the horizon should most certainly cope with all of that and if Win 8 really will be properly optimised for touch-screens then I am most certainly willing to wait and am prepared to part with the necessary hard-earned when the right candidate turns up.



April 14, 2011, 9:47 pm

Picked one up at the weekend. Its quite a slick looking device and the screen really is superb. Viewing angles are some of the best ive seen on a portable device. Was expecting a radical change with Honeycomb but its just a really a new lick of paint with a few tweaks here and there. The only problem i have is with the apps. As yet, there are very few apps optimised for Android 3 and the 10.1 screen size. Apps often crash and its gets a little frustrating at times. Im sure this is indicative any OS upgrade and will settle down over time with app updates.

James Skimming

April 16, 2011, 2:13 am

Where did you pick it up, was it with the keyboard? Everywhere that's doing the keyboard bundle seems to be sold out.


May 5, 2011, 1:01 am

All this time after the first ipad was announced and you know what? I still don't understand the point of tablets.

The Doctor

May 5, 2011, 1:19 am

As someone who was sceptical of the iPad when it was first launched, I finally got the point of it after playing with a friend's (and also understood why Apple was right that a ten inch screen was the right choice for usablity). However, having bought a Desire last year I wasn't about to jump into a whole new "ecosystem" (God I hate that phrase!) so decided to plump for the Transformer, if only because having the keyboard let me convince myself that it was more than just a toy...

After having used mine for about a week now, I'm really enjoying the experience. Yes, Honeycomb is a bit buggy in places but is nowhere near as bad as some tech journos have made out. Yes, the dearth of proper Honeycomb apps is a bit frustrating but unlike the iPad, regular Android apps generally scale up quite well to the screen eaning you're not left with the fuzzy double-size scaling of iPhone apps.

However, I think the review is correct that the biggest failing is the lack of easy video playback. Although you can optimise video for good playback (I've had Tron Legacy at 720p through the mini-HDMI port) the experience of getting it onto the tablet has been difficult enough that most people won't bother.

I think the bottom line is that if you want the most user-friendly experience you get an iPad but if you are happy to put up with a few niggles to get a more flexible experience, then a Transformer is your best choice at the moment.


May 5, 2011, 4:27 am

Why is this back as a new article? Wasn't this reviewed in March 31?

Still it was interesting to see that still not that many Android tablet apps have showed up since then.

I still don't see the point of this device - if what you want is a notebook then get one with a real OS.


May 5, 2011, 3:15 pm

That was a hands-on article. We now have a full review, which has been appended to the original hands-on. A bit confusing perhaps.


May 5, 2011, 3:37 pm

Sorry guys, we're still getting our heads round our new content management system - don't ask. This should now be the full review.

Zero 1

May 5, 2011, 3:37 pm

I actually think Asus has made a very good tablet for android. In terms of hardware with keyboard it just looks so practical. The pricing is also spot on. I don't think I will get one just yet but counting out iPads, this is certainly one of the best tablet out there.


May 5, 2011, 3:54 pm

>> proprietary connectors? Hello, the apple one is just this

That most speaker docks / car radios etc all support.

>> Most other devs now use micro usb.

The dock connector does more than just USB, so isn't a direct replacement for the dock connector.

Malcolm Smith 1

May 5, 2011, 4:08 pm

I got one of these yesterday, delivered from Comet who had 414 (without keyboard) in stock. Yes, apps for 3.0 are few at the moment, and some older aps crash. The Iplayer app does not work atm on 3.0.

But, early days and it is not the tablets fault! The tablet is very good imo, screen rotates fast, scrolls smoothly. I seem to have to tap a little harder than I do on my phone, but it could just be me! Often accurate tapping is required.

I'm not fussed over video applications myself, so any potential issues there are not important.

Having looked around at the Xoom and the Ipad (which I just refuse to buy into) I figured this was the best choice currently in terms of product/value. I'd agree with the 9/10 rating of the review and I think the price is very reasonable for the product.

I just hope that over the next few months apps and a chocie of dedicated cases etc appear - the Asus case looks horrible!

I've not had a chance to try the PC software (synching etc) yet....maybe tonight.

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