Tablet keyboard cases turn Android devices into netbooks

Aug 25, 2011 By Victor Godinez

Tablets made netbooks obsolete almost overnight, and for the most part, it was a mercy killing.

But for road warriors who need to type more than the occasional email, the loss of physical keyboards is a step backward.

Any number of wireless Bluetooth keyboards are available for tablets, but that means you have to keep track of multiple pieces of hardware.

However, two new Android tablets allow you to physically connect a keyboard as a single unit, like a touch screen.

When you don't need the typing capability, you just detach the and leave the keyboard behind.


The Pad Transformer TF101 is designed from the ground up as a combo device.

While you can just use the tablet as a top-notch Android 3.2 device, with its Tegra 2 processor and 10.1-inch screen, the Transformer comes into its own when you buy the separate mobile keyboard dock.

The tablet snaps into place on the keyboard dock, and suddenly you have a full-fledged .

The keyboard has its own battery to extend the life of your tablet to about 16 hours at full charge.

There are also two USB ports; Android-specific hotkeys to open the Web browser, for example, or return to the home screen; and even a to control a .

Yep, a tablet with a mouse.

And the dock is sturdy and easily adjustable, with responsive keys that are a bit too small for the biggest fingers, but still far more effective than a keyboard.

When you're done, the screen folds down and closes like any netbook, and you can slip the entire contraption into just about any briefcase, backpack or laptop bag.

However, the metal keyboard does weigh 1.4 pounds and costs $149, adding substantially to the 1.5-pound, $399 Transformer tablet (for the 16GB version; $499 for 32GB).


The Samsung 10.1 might be the best non-iPad tablet, and that praise is not as faint as it sounds.

The company's Bluetooth Keyboard Case adds to that capability, turning your super-slim tablet into a typing machine.

While the tablet snaps easily into the case, there's no physical connection between the keyboard and the tablet.

Connecting by Bluetooth is easy and fast, but the battery in the keyboard case can't be shared with the tablet.

Also, the case has a floppy cloth hinge.

So to prop up the screen while you type, you have to use a kickstand on the back of the case.

It's not a great solution, as you can only tilt the screen so far before it falls over, and you can't prop up the screen at all when there's no surface underneath, such as balancing on the edge of your lap.

Still, the minimalist construction does keep the $149 case and keyboard light, barely adding to the already svelte 1.3-pound tablet.


- Transformer: When the tablet is snapped into the dock, the entire contraption feels as solid (and weighty) as any netbook.

- Galaxy Tab Bluetooth case: Light and portable, this case is a delightful travel companion, but it occasionally flops over.

- The winner: The Galaxy Tab is a great tablet, but the Transformer is the superior performer.

Explore further: Pebble smartwatch nears Kickstarter record

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Review: Eee Pad tablet transforms into laptop

May 18, 2011

(AP) -- The tablet computers that compete with the iPad have mostly been uninspiring. The Eee Pad Transformer stands out with a design that isn't just copied from the iPad: It's a tablet that turns into a ...

Asus launches Android-powered tablet

Mar 25, 2011

(AP) -- AsusTek Computer Inc. unveiled a sleek tablet computer on Friday, after the Taiwanese firm saw the sales of its once popular line of mini-laptops stall following the launch of Apple's hit iPad.

Rumor: Asus to make Eee Pad Transformer 2 with Windows 8

Jun 14, 2011

( -- The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is one of the most popular models of tablet PCs on the market. The Android Honeycomb-based tablet is expected to become the second most popular tablet on the market, ...

Asus bets on variety of forms to win tablet fans

Jan 05, 2011

(AP) -- Taiwan's AsusTek Computer Inc. plans to start selling an array of tablet computers - including hybrids that sit somewhere between a laptop and a tablet - with the hope that variety is the best weapon ...

Logitech intros iPad 2 case with built-in keyboard

Apr 08, 2011

Logitech today unveiled the Logitech Keyboard Case, delivering type-and-go convenience for your iPad 2. Smart and sleek, Logitech’s first offering designed especially for tablets provides an extra measure ...

Review: HTC Flyer tablet mates with slippery pen

Jun 08, 2011

Is it better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all? That's the question posed by a new tablet computer that takes aim at one of the deficiencies of the iPad: that it's difficult to write ...

Recommended for you

Pebble smartwatch nears Kickstarter record

Feb 27, 2015

The latest version of the Pebble smartwatch neared a record funding amount on Kickstarter on Friday amid growing interest in wearable tech and ahead of the highly anticipated Apple Watch launch.

Smart bottles make use of printed sensor tags

Feb 26, 2015

You're looking at a commercial future where vendors will seek to leverage new technologies to track customer behavior, buying patterns, user patterns and to send out information realtime, up close, personal, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.