We continue to take care of ASUS Eee Pad Transformer knowing more closely the particular docking station that makes the tablet Android 3.2 Honeycomb very similar to a netbook.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, since its official presentation took place during CES 2011, was able to attract public attention thanks to the special docking integrates a real QWERTY keyboard, extended battery life with the integrated battery and improves the appearance expandability by integrating two USB ports and a slot for SD memory cards.
- Materials and finishes of high quality and very similar to those of the tablet
- QWERTY keyboard of good quality
- Possibility to connect USB devices and SD memory cards
- Integrated additional battery
- Locking mechanism and quick release tablet solid and functional
- Ability to adjust the tilt of the tablet connected to the dock
- Penalizes the portability of the tablet because of significant weight
The docking station is supplied in the bundle currently being marketed by Asus, but many users who originally purchased the tablet without a dock may wonder if it is worth the extra outlay to purchase it. We try to give an answer to that question could affect even those who, proceeding now buying the Asus Eee Transformer Pad is undecided whether to bundle all or directed solely to the tablet.
Let’s start by examining the sales package that does not deviate too much from that of the tablet, drawing the same size and same graphics. Inside there is only the dock along with a concise instruction manual.
Once removed the dock from the box the first detail that attracts attention is the stylistic coherence that links the dock to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. As will be discussed in more detail later, is the color that the exterior finish will blend seamlessly with the tablet, forming a single body from the point of view purely aesthetic.
The second detail that immediately catches the attention is represented by the various expansion slots. As said earlier, there are two USB ports and a slot for SD memory cards. One of the minor flaws of the Asus Eee Pad Transfomer is the lack of USB ports as opposed to other competitors like the Acer Iconia Tab A500 tablet. Thanks to the dock is filled this gap very well and you can count on a set of tools to expand very full-bodied.
Please note that these ports can be used both for connecting external USB storage or for connecting other devices whose set was further extended by the recent version 3.1 of Android Honeycomb.
The dock has a power connector located along the left edge. This connector is similar to that present in the tablet and is used to recharge the battery of both dockstation, when the tablet is connecting to the Asus EEE Transformer Pad in the dock using the same charger Eee Pad Transformer. Next to the power connector there is a small LED that indicates the charging status.
The dock is designed to be easily hooked and unhooked with Asus EEE Pad Transformer in order not to overly constrain the user to use the tablet with the dock thereby penalizing portability. To achieve this, Asus has adopted a latching mechanism and quick release.
The Asus EEE Pad Transformer is hooked to the dock through the two locks that fit into two seats located on the lower edge of the tablet. To complete the operation successfully exert slight pressure is sufficient, only to correct the alignment of the tablet to the keyboard after the link with further pressure.
The element of the dock on which the Asus EEE Pad Transformer locks also performs another important function. Far from being fixed, the place where you hook the tablet can be rotated allowing you to tilt the screen. This possibility makes it much more versatile use of the dock, in fact, makes the Asus EEE Pad Transformer is very similar to a netbook with a screen that rotates and folds on the keyboard.
Inside the coupling is also home to the connector with which the Asus EEE Pad Transformer charging and connect with the dock.
Once docked to the docking station to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the result is not unlike what you get by using a proper netbook, with one difference that slightly affects the ergonomics of use. Contrary to what happens with netbooks that concentrate most of the weight in the base which houses all the components (motherboard, HD, etc.) the union of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer with dock is characterized by the weight distribution focuses on the top.
The thickness of the dock is similar to that of the tablet, then the user intends to purchase must take into account a doubling of overall size. It should be emphasized that the total thickness, however, remains lower than many Netbooks, given that the internal components of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer takes up much less space than a netbook with HD and processor that requires proper heat dissipation.
Commended the fact that Asus has taken care in every detail the aesthetic integration of the two parties. It is important to emphasize, in fact, that we are not dealing with a product made by third parties, but an accessory supplied directly by the parent and built with the same finish and the same materials as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.
The key size is slightly smaller than the traditional keyboards, but this proved to be a punitive element in our tests. The keys have good feedback and a stroke not too large, which enables fast insertion of text. In day to day we did not find any kind of downturn and, as the keyboard is structured, it is difficult to imagine that these phenomena occur. Unlike many of the keyboards that netbooks have a keyboard made from a single piece fixed to the shell and removable with relative ease, the keys on the QWERTY dock “emerge” from the shell that is very strong and resistant to bending and structural failure.
To highlight the integration of dedicated keys to the activation of functions typical of the Android operating system. Just to mention those that we tend to use the most:
- Block and reactivation of the tablet
- Home, Search, Back, Menu
- Control of wireless capabilities (WiFi, Bluetooth)
- Quick access to settings
- Volume control and screen brightness
- Capture screenshots
The docking station also includes a touchpad with two integrated buttons. Dock connected to the tablet, in fact, you will notice the presence of a pointer that with the recent update to Android 3.2 has assumed a circular shape. The touchpad has proved responsive showing a good response to user input and you can make the most of the operations that are normally done through the touch interface of the tablet.
What on the Touchpad
The touchpad also incorporates two physical buttons that one is led instinctively identify with the traditional left and right mouse button and touchpad for Windows or Mac operating systems functions are different, however, given the particular software platform that comes with the tablet: The left button allows you to select items and launch applications, but at the same time, its long press, together with the slip of the finger on the touchpad produces the same effect as a swipe. On the right, however, is delegated the function of Android devices in the “Back” button.
The dock has made it much more immediate transfer of files in the internal memory of the tablet using the USB ports, has accelerated the activities of entering text with the keyboard of good quality and offered us a very reliable support on which to rest the tablet during the watching movies and just when circumstances made it inconvenient to continue to hold the Transfomer. Thanks to the direct keys to activate the typical functions of Android and the touchpad with multitouch support, then we were able to control all sections of the operating system without using the touchscreen.
We can not forget another advantage associated with the use of the dock, or the extension of the already excellent range of the tablet. The extra battery is able to make people forget the charger for several days and in our case. With a moderate use of the tablet has enabled us to cover four or five days. The exact time will vary depending on usage, but it seems to us that the nominal value of 16 hours of use is very close to reality. Obviously, the full charge of tablet and dock requires a fair amount of time to be completed, but once done gives way to exploit the full potential of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer without fear of running out of energy.
We come to expect a little less positive, however that should not need to be considered real defects, but the price to pay for the greater flexibility of use made possible by the dock.
We conclude with users who recommend the purchase of the dock. Among them we count those who are most definitely use the messaging (IM, email) or that take advantage of Office suites including the Polaris Software offers the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. These users will benefit greatly from an integrated QWERTY keyboard. Even those who usually carry and transfer files to and from the tablet will find very useful the two USB ports and slots for SD cards. Finally, if there were to be seen as sufficient autonomy of the tablet only, the dock will be the right answer to meet the energy needs extras.