Review Index:

ASUS Transformer Prime TF201 Keyboard Dock Review

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Battery Life, Living With, Conclusion

Battery Life

To see how the dock’s massive battery extends life we ran it through our usual array of battery life tests, which includes YouTube streaming and Peacekeeper battery life benchmarks at a display brightness of 30% and 70%. The results? See for yourself.

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Attaching the dock extends endurance by between 60% and 70%, a figure that’s nothing to scoff at. With the battery attached, I was able to achieve endurance figures of up to thirteen hours and two minutes. Our benchmarks are no walk in the park, so these results are impressive.

Living With The Prime’s Keyboard Dock

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When I received the original Transformer with its dock, I wanted to write the majority of the review on the tablet. That was a personal goal I set to help test out the device and its dock. It was a goal I quickly abandoned because I found that using the tablet as a laptop was as pleasing as sticking my hands in a bee’s nest. The small size, odd layout and limited selection of decent office apps had me cursing within ten minutes.

I set myself the same goal this time around, and frankly, I managed no better. This new dock may be thinner and lighter and sexier, but for me it does nothing to solve the problems that I had before. My fingers fumble over themselves as they try to use the small keys, my palms move nervously as they try to find a comfortable position, and my shoulders hunch inwards as the experience of using this tiny device seems to give me the unconscious urge to tie myself up in a knot. 

This is not a solvable problem. As with a netbook, the issue for me is one of physical size. This device is too small for me to be comfortable with, no matter what. Even if everything else was perfect, this simple issue would spoil the party for me.

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But everything else isn’t perfect. Apps are rarely designed with keyboard use in mind, which makes the dock feel more like baggage than a helpful peripheral when using many of them. Worse, some apps that you’d expect to be useful are actually terrible. The Google Docs app for tablets seems half-baked. The included Polaris Office app is a lot better, but still a far cry from Microsoft Office or the full-fledged Google Docs experience.

For me – and, I think, for most people – the keyboard dock isn’t going to suddenly turn the Prime into a laptop replacement. It is going to give you the chance to use your Prime as a laptop replacement in a pinch, and for some people that will make sense. If your communication needs during your travels are limited to snapping off a few emails, the Prime’s dock will serve you well. But if you need to regularly type more than a few hundred words the experience sours quickly. 


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I find myself wondering what ASUS could do about the problems this product faces. The dock has a lot going for it including a latch mechanism that work beautifully and a thin profile that doesn’t compromise durability. 

Yet the keyboard is limited by circumstances outside of what its designers could ever address. The keyboard needs to be bigger, but it can’t be – that would look and feel ridiculous. It also needs to have better support from the operating system and apps, but that's probably not a high priority for app developers.

And then there’s the price. I was under the impression that the dock was supposed to be $150, but availability at the price seems limited (many places are sold out, or listing the dock as a “pre-order” item). Amazon is selling them for $239.99, which is just far too much. If you do need a keyboard for your Prime and/or you want amazing battery life, the $150 asking price is reasonable (but not a steal). Anything higher makes the dock lose appeal. 

Despite the passage of time and the release of a new a tablet, my conclusion is the same as that I reached when reviewing the original Transformer. The Transformer Prime is the best Android tablet on the market today – and the dock has nothing to do with that fact. It is a tablet first, and slapping a dock on to it doesn’t magically transform it into a competent laptop, even if that’s what the tablet’s name suggests. 

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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.

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.

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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)


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.


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

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, 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.


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 (
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?


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.

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