Top positive review
313 people found this helpful
New TF700T keyboard dock exceeds my expectations.
on August 10, 2012
First off, I just wanted to clear up the confusion. There are a lot of people giving negative feedback on this device thinking they got an older TF201 (Transformer Prime) keyboard dock that was simply repackaged as a TF700T (Transformer Infinity) keyboard dock. That's understandable. Even I was confused by the writing on the box which has "TF201 dock" in the title in various places.
But here's the deal: According to ASUS, these are in fact newly designed TF700T keyboard docks. So long as the P/N says "TF700T-DOCK-GR", it definitely is a TF700T Infinity dock. No question about it. And yes, it is definitely different from the TF201 dock.
How does it differ with the original TF201 dock? According to everything ASUS has written, the answer is that the new TF700T dock 1) has better weight distribution to prevent tipping over, 2) has a slightly smaller battery with slightly less charge, and 3) costs up to $50 more (but I see they're lowering the prices on these as I type this).
I've exhaustively gone through the XDA forums on this, and people are saying that the Infinity tablet does in fact work with the old TF201 keyboard dock, but that some people were complaining that it wasn't a perfect fit, and some were actually saying that it was scratching the metal case or maybe even slightly chipping the edge of the glass. Others said that their TF201 dock was fine.
So, based on the possibility that the original TF201 dock might not fit as well as the new TF700T dock, and based on the fact that the TF700T dock should have better weighting to prevent it from tipping over more often, I decided to purchase this new TF700T dock instead of the old dock for my new Infinity tablet.
Yes, it's up to $50 more. And you do get about 10-15% less battery life from the new dock. But, I still think it's probably the better combination to use with the new Infinity tablet.
Here's what I suggest doing if you want to know for sure. I've actually not done this yet. You may want to just bring your Infinity tablet to Best Buy and try inserting it into an original TF201 Prime keyboard dock. Compare it with the new Infinity dock if they also have it on display there. See if there are any noticeable differences in fit and weight distribution. If not, then go ahead and buy the original TF201 Prime dock instead, because it has slightly more battery life.
Now, as for the keyboard's feel and function... I have to say, this keyboard feels wonderful, despite the fact that it's so small. I expected it would be terrible. But that's just not the case. It is so easy to type on. The keys themselves provide a good amount of tactile feedback. I can very easily bang out emails and type in web page addresses. I type at over 80 words per minute, and it keeps up just fine. I can't say enough good things about it. It's a much better experience than using an on-screen keyboard, let me tell you.
There are just a few nitpicky things I'll say about it. First, I noticed the right-shift key was smaller than what I'm used to, and I had to adjust my typing style slightly to accommodate that. Second, there is no "DELETE" (rub-out) key. There's a "Backspace" key, of course. I later found out that you can do a DELETE by pressing shift-backspace. No big deal there. And lastly, it is a smaller keyboard than your desktop keyboard. But in my case, it seemed pretty easy to adjust to it. I find myself looking down at it every now and then to make sure I'm on target, but usually I can just type away without looking at what I'm doing on it.
EDIT: One other key that appears to be missing that I would really like to have is the ESCAPE key. Most people probably have little use for that key, but it is a requirement if you use certain editors like VIM which we unix geeks like (but note: the "Vi Improved Touch" app remaps the Android return key to ESCAPE for you, so you're fine). It can also come in handy if you're using the web browser and want to escape out of full screen mode or something. Or if you're using your tablet as a way to remotely control your PC desktop. Usually there's some work-around like bringing up the virtual keyboard instead, but having a dedicated ESCAPE key on the dock would be a lot better. There are some online docs on how to remap the Caps Lock key to become the ESCAPE key, but it appears you need to have root access to achieve this. I'm not sure if there's any other way to achieve it at this moment. Not a big deal, but I did want to mention it.
EDIT 2: Someone in the comments section noted that you can always just press CTRL-[, and it's the same as ESCAPE. So you actually don't need a dedicated ESCAPE key. Very useful tidbit of information! (Thanks, Jordan!)
As for the positives, there are a lot more than negatives. For starters, those Android keys at the very top-most row are a welcome addition. You can easily toggle wifi on and off, as well as bluetooth, to allow you to get better battery life on the road. There's the volume control keys to raise/lower/mute volume. There's the screen brightness raise/lower keys. The standard Android "return" key is on the top-left, very easy to use. I probably use that key the most. There's also the screen lock button on the top-right, which I use second most frequently. There's also a button to toggle the keyboard's trackpad on/off, which is very welcome as it prevents accidental mouse pointer control and clicking while you're trying to type something.
Another thing that's nice about it is how well the Infinity tablet actually fits into the dock. It fits very snugly and doesn't wobble at all while it's in there.
I mention fit, because I've heard others online complaining that their Infinity tablet didn't fit as snugly into the original TF201 Prime dock (not this Infinity dock). Some actually bought some little pieces of rubber with sticky adhesive on the backs to stick into the dock interface to make it was a perfect fit. I'm not sure if it really hurts not having a perfect fit, but I guess some people worry about it. Mind you, a lot of people with original Prime docks are reporting that theirs fit just fine, so I don't know what to make of that.
Anyway just to reiterate, this new TF700T dock does not have this problem. The fit is very snug. It's snug while completely closed and open. The whole unit just feels very solid.
As for the weight balance and the risk of having it tip over... This was a worry of mine, because I heard some reviewers actually broke theirs because they opened them all the way, and they left it on the edge of a table or something. Then someone comes along and accidentally brushes up against it, and down it goes. Not smart.
My experience is that the weight balance is fine. I don't think it will tip over very easily up to about 120 degrees. Past that, yes, it's definitely unstable. But actually, that's as far as you can physically open it anyway. So long as you're on an even surface, no problem. But if you're like me, you might want to sit down and use it on your lap. That's where you might have to be a bit more careful about it. Suddenly shifting your legs might tip it over. It's not a big deal, though. You'll be able to feel its balance before it ever tips over.
Ports... There's a full SD card slot and a full USB 2.0 slot as well as a 40 pin pass-through connector. These are very welcome additions. Some people may not be aware of this, but the USB slot is a "host-mode" slot. That means you can actually plug in things like keyboards, mice, cell-phone modems, wireless keyboard dongles, ethernet-over-USB adapters, or even the Playstation controller, and it will just automatically recognize it and knows what to do with it. That's just such a nice feature. A lot of tablets just have a micro-USB port without the host-mode capability.
The only thing I'd like to see added to the keyboard dock is maybe one more USB port so that it can power external CD ROM drives and such - they typically use one USB connection for data and another one for power at the same time. And maybe I'd like to see the next generation of these keyboards use the newer, faster USB 3.0 standard instead.
The level of "integration" with the tablet was a pleasant surprise to me. They really thought about it and gave it the feel of an actual laptop. When the tablet is docked with the keyboard, you can close it (physically), and just like a laptop, it will cause the screen to turn off automatically. That puts it into power saving sleep mode also. Open it back up, and the screen turns on again, and it comes out of sleep mode, instantly. Also, you can connect the power cord to the dock's 40 pin connector, and that will charge the tablet and the keyboard at the same time. In other words, you don't need to take the tablet out of the dock and charge it separately. Pretty nice features. It really does feel like a laptop. They did a great job with it.
One more thing I wanted to mention before I wrap things up. The actual dock part of the keyboard dock is pretty stiff. It takes effort to rotate the dock at first, manually. When I first got this keyboard dock, it was in the closed position, and so I tried to just grab the dock and rotate it into the open position using just my fingers. But it wouldn't budge. I was scared to use more force to open it, thinking I was going to break it or something. So I looked it up on the web and found that others had the same question. As it turns out, it's supposed to be this stiff. And yes you just need to add more muscle to move it initially. And then you can put your tablet into it and move it just fine from that point on. But initially it is a little scary and confusing.
Alright, that just about covers it. I'm pretty happy with this purchase. But I do think they ought to lower the price to match the original Prime dock's price, and I think they will eventually. For $100, it's perfectly reasonable. Some people may still question that price, but keep in mind you're getting a decent battery boost in addition to the solidly designed keyboard and full "laptop-like" integration with the tablet. I think it's totally worth it. For $150, it does make it harder to justify getting this instead of the original TF201 Prime dock. But like I said in my review, I still think it's the best dock to use with the Infinity tablet.
Hope that helps!