Review Index:
Feedback

ASUS Transformer Prime TF201 Keyboard Dock Review

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design, User Interface

View Full Size

Late in December of 2011 we received the Transformer Prime for review. What we did not recieve, however, was the keyboard dock. High demand by journalists for a look at the company's latest and greatest Transformer had left them short of docks, in turn leaving us short of a dock.

Now we've finally had our hands on one. Since it was shipped to us several weeks after the review Prime, we were able to give it our full attention. As with the original Transformer, the dock is one of the features that help the Prime stand out from the crowd - but that doesn't mean it is automatically destined for greatness. If the Prime wants to act like a laptop, it will have to be able to compete with laptops - and that's a tall order for a system without Windows or an x86 processor.

Besides a keyboard, the dock adds a few other specifications that are worth mentioning. Let's take a look at them.

View Full Size

So, as with the previous dock, you’re not just buying a keyboard. You’re also receiving an extended battery with impressive capacity and some additional connectivity. Given the MSRP of $150, however, you’d kind of expect there to be more than just a keyboard. 

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Transformer Prime Keyboard!!

Design

Like the tablet itself, the dock goes for an understated and elegant look. While the right and left sides of the dock are rounded, the forward edge actually comes to a bit an edge. You’re not going to dice tomatoes with this thing, but you might give yourself a sting if you accidently run you finger across the front too quickly. 

Build quality is adequate. Panel separations are extremely visible along the edges, and there are four exposed screws on the bottom side of the dock. These are nit-picks, but not irrelevant. It’s normal to see these details on a laptop, but on mobile devices it’s rare to see inelegant manufacturing realities left so boldly exposed. 

View Full Size

The docking mechanism itself is brilliantly designed. It consists of a wide U-shaped holster within which you’ll find two latches and a data connection. The latches help guide the connection home, so as long as you’re fairly close to the target, you can connect the tablet to the dock by applying just a bit of force. There’s minimal frustration associated with docking, which is what you want from this sort of peripheral. 

ASUS has gone to the trouble of placing soft-touch material inside the dock mechanism. This prevents scratches and ensures that docking doesn’t result in any disturbing metal-on-metal or plastic-on-plastic noises. The latches themselves are also whisper-quiet. 

Another nice feature of the latch is its tight operation. A docked tablet may look like a laptop, but its weight distribution is completely different. It tends to be top heavy, which makes a weak and wobbly latch a pain in the butt. You’ll find no such problems here – another indication that ASUS hasn’t been cutting corners. 

User Interface

View Full Size

While the Prime’s dock may include a full keyboard, the limitations of its physical size become apparent the moment you begin to type. If you’ve used a 10.1” netbook before and you had no issue with it you should have no issue here. But if you found the netbook cramped, this dock will give you some problems.

I definitely fall into the latter camp. My palms are far too large for the available palmrest space, which leaves them constantly brushing across the dock’s uncomfortable forward edge. ASUS has done an excellent job stretching the island style keys across every available millimeter of space, but there’s still not enough room for my fingers to spread out, and I constantly stumble over keys as a result. 

Putting these concerns aside, however, the keyboard seems like a good pick for people with hands that will fit it. The keys don’t have great travel, but they’re more responsive and easier to touch-type with than you’d expect. 

The layout is a mixed bag. All the typical keys are as large as possible and well positioned. What I don’t like are the new keys that control Android functions. 

The position where you’d find a Windows key is now taken up by an Android home key, and that’s fine. But where’s the key for opening the multi-tasking view? And why is the back key (it’s different from the backspace key) located where I’d normally find escape? And why is there no app tray button? Getting to the app tray on an Android tablet is actually a bit of a journey, since Google decided to tuck it away in the upper right side of the desktop.

I’m not a fan of the touchpad, either. It works, to be sure. And it works particularly well in conjunction with Android multi-touch gestures. You can swipe through web pages and documents all day long with this thing. But as a precision device it’s small and finicky. Clicking on small icons or interface buttons can be an issue. Lining up the cursor properly can take some doing, which may make you wonder why you didn’t just use the touchscreen. 

 

February 10, 2012 | 12:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous Concerned Citizen,Robert Pimm,which is not my name (not verified)

one crucial thing i realized, the dock only hold it like a laptop, the screen does not swivel around and fold back on itself like a "convertible" tablet PC would.
http://thecoolgadgets.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/hp-elitebook-2740p-...

that means the keyboard HAS to be in the way if you want to use it just as a tablet with that huge battery life. i had suspicions if the keyboard area was going to be too constrained.

February 11, 2012 | 01:23 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

That's a good point that I've certainly had to deal with when using the keyboard dock, but I hadn't thought of. It is pretty annoying to use the touchscreen when the keyboard dock is being used.

February 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can simply remove the tablet... Hence transformer... This argument that you cannot use it just as a tablet is a bit ridiculous.
The author has personal bias because of big hands... For me, that makes this review fairly un-reliable. The point you drive home in your conclusion centres around this fact.
I would like to have seen a more objective review

February 13, 2012 | 12:49 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

A review by someone with small hands would be biased, but the bias would be in a direction you favor.

December 11, 2012 | 12:22 PM - Posted by Monserrate (not verified)

Ӏt's the best time to make a few plans for the long run and it is time to be happy. I've read thiѕ pοst and if I may I wish tо rеcоmmend yоu fеw fascіnating
things or advice. Peгhаps уou can wrіte subѕequent
aгtiсlеs гegarding this article.
I want to lеaгn еvеn mοre thingѕ approxіmatelу it!

Here is my ωeblоg - Monserrate

February 10, 2012 | 01:20 PM - Posted by collie man (not verified)

I've had the opportunity to play with my friends transformer prime recently, and it's a little weird to get used to. It doesn't function like a laptop in the sence that it's all single click and familiar shortcuts {like f5 refresh, alt f4 close, ect,} don't work. It's a cool little tablet and the keyboard does make documents way easier, but it's not quite "a tablet that turns into a laptop" that it seems to be

February 10, 2012 | 01:20 PM - Posted by collie man (not verified)

I've had the opportunity to play with my friends transformer prime recently, and it's a little weird to get used to. It doesn't function like a laptop in the sence that it's all single click and familiar shortcuts {like f5 refresh, alt f4 close, ect,} don't work. It's a cool little tablet and the keyboard does make documents way easier, but it's not quite "a tablet that turns into a laptop" that it seems to be

February 10, 2012 | 01:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wow, no comment about the full-sized USB slot and the full-sized SD card slot. These are exceptionally valuable additions. Personally I've been using it for the past two weeks and I'm 6' 5" tall and have to problems with the keyboard, but that really is a personal experience. I can see where you are coming from there. I don't really care about the trackpad since it is still a touch screen tablet even when attached and I just use the screen to move around. A bluetooth keyboard and mouse would give you what you wanted in that regard, and you'd still have the value of the extra battery life and the USB/SD card slots.

March 29, 2012 | 07:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I use the USB to connect mouse. I have an old logitech mouse for laptops, and it started working with no hussle.

February 11, 2012 | 07:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

why not just get a laptop, you are already up to the same size once you bolt on all these add ons. Except you don't get the full functionality.

*thumbs down*

February 12, 2012 | 05:11 PM - Posted by Greg (not verified)

I have the TF201, 64 GB, CG with matching dock, and I have people from all departments coming to my desk for "show and tell". This dock really completes the tablet and after my first week with the tablet and dock, I can't tell you enough to order both -- you won't be disappointed.

I see some thumbs down from people who don't have this duo - pity, pity.

Just go buy it and you'll be smiling.

February 15, 2012 | 06:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi,

Do you need to remove the rubber tabs on either side of the data connection before inserting into the dock? I am not sure if they get removed or if I need to push harder to get the Prime into the docking station.

Thanks,
Dave

February 17, 2012 | 12:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

yes, you have to remove them

February 15, 2012 | 12:31 AM - Posted by Mikeinsnowmass (not verified)

i have both the tablet and docking station and could not be happier. the one item that the reviewer is least pleased with is the size of the keyboard. there is a std usb connection so one could quite easily place a usb dongle in it for periods of extensive writing enabling use of a wireless keyboard. thus gaining the ease of a full sized keyboard, all of twenty bucks, as well as retaining the extended battery life. when done it is just as simple to remove that dongle for the wireless keyboard and then use the usb connection for any other device you may have or not. personally i have a wireless mouse dongle in my usb but i have also tested both the wireless keyboard and a 1 tb external usb hard drive and all work just fine. there are so many options and it is a pure joy to work with regardless. considering my first pc ran windows 3.1, had a 250mb hard drive, a 9600 baud dialup modem and 256k of ram, cost right at $2500, the transformer prime is incredible.

February 16, 2012 | 12:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

At first all of my keybard functioned. Now all the keys work with the exception of the moving mouse and left and right button are working.I have been very pleased with this device until now.I have even suggested this same system to all of my FaceBook friends.

February 18, 2012 | 03:14 PM - Posted by ivenchen (not verified)

The cursor works best when the finger hovers over the touch pad with little pressure-
I think it is capacitive.

March 1, 2012 | 09:52 PM - Posted by Marc (not verified)

Could you tell me where I can get on internet the user manual for my asus transformer prime tf201 keyboard. I would like the full functionality to use every key on the keyboard

March 23, 2012 | 07:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Have you downloaded the full manual at

http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/EeePAD/TF201/TF201_MANUAL_en_20120210.pdf

which describes the funcions of all the keys on the keyboard as well as full instructions for the tf201.You've probably found this by now!

March 23, 2012 | 12:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have used the dock for about a week now, and I love it. The typing is very easy, and I rarely ever have a problem with space. I do have huge hands though. And I still never have a problem, it certainly isn't for everyone, but I enjoy it. The USB port, battery, keyboard, and SD card reader really makes this worth the money. just have to be more careful if you have large hands!

March 24, 2012 | 11:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Any clues what the white circles indicate on the 1 key and the 6 key????

March 30, 2012 | 12:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yea, sure... I might use the dock as a keyboard.... sure. But I KNOW I will use it to charge my tablet when it's in my bag.

April 1, 2012 | 10:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I've had my Transformer Prime for about a week, and just picked up the dock (keyboard) two days ago.

The Transformer Prime is, in my opinion, hands down the best Android tablet (and possibly the best tablet, period) on the market today!

The dock gives you a second option! If I'm going to be out of town for a few days, I'll certainly take the dock with me. Additional battery life, easy to watch tablet on one of those fold down airplane tables, and if I need to shot off a quick e-mail, it's serve in a pinch.

The TP with dock is one sexy looking, sleek laptop/tablet!

April 9, 2012 | 09:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This reviewer is very annoying in knocking this setup simply because of size. Er, hello? It's the size of a netbook. I don't give a flip what size your hands are, if you don't mind working on a netbook, then you're fine. I mean, comparing it to a full-size keyboard is idiotic. Why don't you compare it to typing on the tablet's pop-up keyboard instead? That seems more reasonable to me. And yes, I'm over 6ft and have large hands. You've just got to be reasonable with your expectations.

That's like whining that the screen in this isn't a 60-inch TV and knocking the product because of it. Or like complaining that it doesn't park his car or doesn't have the functionality of a full laptop. Whine, whine, whine. He even whines about the Android office products. I mean, seriously - who even uses the "advanced" features of Office anyway? Most people simply type relatively simple documents. Again, this is MOST people. Yes, I'm an advanced Office user, but I understand that I'm not going to be writing a full multimedia document with embedded automation and satellite uplink on this setup. Get real.

The Transformer Prime and keyboard looks like an amazing setup. Top performing tablet that can transform into a netbook with a real keyboard and insanely great battery life and USB/SD connectivity? I'll take it.

I think Asus has really put out a nicely designed and conceived product. I don't own one yet, but I'm definitely getting it soon.

May 3, 2012 | 08:22 AM - Posted by Bahry (not verified)

well, I have a question here, regarding the big hands, which is an awesome point. who said that giants shouldnt use docks! :)

over at http://www.asuseeepad.net/transformer-tf300.php, mid page, there is a picture/photo of a full size keyboard.

same design but big keyboard, like the one you would find on a pc.

Has any1 seen this!? where could it be available, i havent seen it anywhere esle.

thanx

May 24, 2012 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

After much searching we eventually took the plunge and bought our Transformer TF201 (or as my husband likes to call it; the Optimus Prime) from gogodigital (http://www.gogodigital.co.uk/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime-tf201-32gb-t...)
Apart from the initial confusion with the two different colours (as usual there is no obvious model number variation for colour - why not call it the TF201-GREY?!)

We are very pleased with the quality of this tablet/netbook... I am not sure what the problem is with the keyboard. I had a macbook air before this so maybe I am already used to the smaller size??

I only bought the WiFi version but have just found a forum on how to setup a 3G dongle (Three).. so will be back with some results soon!

June 2, 2012 | 04:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I really like the Prime, neet piece of equipment. Issues I've had though are the screen coming away from the housing (quality issue raised elsewhere) and the fact that the keyboard has an odd shortcut key can anyone help with it?

The issue is this: the @ ket isn't where it should be i hahve to press 'shift + 2' to get @. if I presss shift + the @ key I get the " symbol. Can anyone suggest how I get this swapped back to the way it should be as annotated on the keyboard?

thanks

June 3, 2012 | 08:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

try using right shift key and 2 it took me a while to work it out

October 7, 2012 | 08:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Is there a reason that when I turn off my tablet it still pulls/drains battery life from the dock. Is that normal? Do I have to disconnect them each time they are not in use?

January 2, 2013 | 01:26 PM - Posted by jedi105 (not verified)

The Transformer Prime was simply the best Android tablet out there until the Infinity came along. It is still pretty high end in my opinion. I have used mine for 8 months without the dock. The kids got me the keyboard dock for Christmas (I would never have gotten it for myself - thanks kids) and let me tell you, I love it. I always had an issue with the on screen keyboards in Android and I avoided typing in short emails, facebook updates or filling out forms in web pages on the tablet. That is, until I got the dock. Its a dream to type on. Its responsive and well laid out. The battery life alone is amazing but add in the USB port and the SD card slot and this has just become my favorite toy in the world. But did you see what I said there? Lets be honest here. These things were never meant to be laptop replacements. They are very expensive TOYS. Yes, you can do some light office work and such but these are more content CONSUMATION devices rather than content CREATION devices. My issue with the dock is the fact that there arent any really good cases that will hold the dock and the tablet in a nice clean manner. The one I have from Caseen is nice but its not perfect and unfortunately we will never see a proper case because how fast things change. I'll deal with it. ASUS has done a great job on this product.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.