With so many Android tablets swanning around, it's difficult for any one manufacturer to cut through the noise.does a good job by including a handy stylus, but the Asus Transformer Pad hopes to get your attention with a keyboard dock.
The dock effectively turns your Android slate into a laptop, with a fully fledged keyboard, complete with trackpad. If you want to swipe around the Android app store on your sofa, but still be able to comfortably send long emails and work on long documents, a dedicated keyboard such as this will come in handy.
Its 10.1-inch screen has a whopping 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution, and there's a quad-core processor purring inside. It'll set you back £415 for the 32GB model, which is a little cheaper than the , which comes in at £479.
The Transformer Pad keeps most of the design cues found on the previous model. It has an all-glass front, with a metal back and a 'spun' finish. It's an unusual but fairly attractive design that's slightly spoiled by the strip of plastic along the top. At 8.9mm thick, it's on the chunky side and its 585g makes it far heavier the iPad Air.
Holding the Air up in two hands to read -- as well as carrying it around -- is much more comfortable than doing the same with the Transformer Pad. The Air's skinny frame also lends it a much more luxurious aesthetic.
With the keyboard attached, the Pad measures a beefy 19mm thick at its fattest point and weighs around 1.16kg, making it somewhat less portable. The base of the keyboard is plastic, but when it's all closed up, it still feels sturdy enough to take a few bumps in a backpack.
Using the keyboard with the tablet does make typing out long emails or working on documents much easier. When connected, the on-screen keyboard won't automatically pop up -- it knows the keyboard is attached -- and hotkeys to go home, change brightness or volume all work well.
The dock also adds an extra 4 hours of battery life and provides a full-sized USB 3.0 port. Speaking of power, the tablet can only be charged using the included power cable, not over USB. That means you'll need to take the cable with you when you go away from the plug for any amount of time, rather than simply borrowing someone's plug.
The keyboard's keys are smaller than regular laptop keys -- around the size you'd find on those old netbooks. They're easy enough to use once you get used to them, but they're no permanent replacement for my MacBook Air's keyboard. The trackpad is far from brilliant, with overly sensitive gestures and difficult to press buttons. I spent nearly all my time navigating using the touchscreen -- which is much quicker with Android anyway.
The tablet comes with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. You can expand that with microSD cards in the tablet section, and full-sized SD cards in the keyboard dock.
The 10.1-inch display packs an impressive 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution, which is the same seen on Samsung's latest Note 10.1. It even edges out the iPad Air which has a lesser 2,048x1,500-pixel resolution, although side-by-side, I'm almost certain you'd never tell the difference.
The screen is pretty bright (once you ramp it right to the max) and has rich and natural colour tones. The Galaxy Note 10.1 had a slight yellow hue that I wasn't keen on, but the Transformer's screen has a much more realistic handle on colour.