Having an incredibly unique tablet, which docks into a keyboard for netbook style use, is a great thing. Just ask Asus which sells the Eee Pad Transformer, and the vast amount of Transformer owners. One difficult aspect of having such a unique tablet though is getting 3rd party vendors to make the necessary accessories for your product. Sure, making a case for the tablet is easy, but what about something that can protect the tablet and the dock? The team over at Tuff-Luv decided to take care of that problem with their tablet and keyboard case. Hit the jump to see my thoughts of the unique and extremely protective case.
Design & Build Quality
This combo case comes in two parts. The normal book style case wraps your Transformer in genuine leather, while the extension for the keyboard dock gets a suede-like interior with the genuine leather exterior. The leather has a pleasant touch, which isn’t too soft which would scratch easily, while still not being coarse and cheap feeling. Essentially, this is how you want your cases. A nice feel which should bring plenty of longevity to its life and be durable enough to get a little rugged.
The tablet case is nicely designed with nothing more than a Tuff-Luv (TF) logo on the front cover, which should please the minimalists. The front flap has a couple of magnets hidden inside to keep the tablet closed when not in use. Stitching along the edges is symmetric and very clean looking with no frayed edges or other common problems you might find. Turning over to the backside, there’s a built in stand which simply un-snaps to allow hands free viewing at a roughly 45 degree angle. Unfortunately, it does add a little bit of girth to the case, but the trade-off is worth it in day to day use. A generous cutout lets the rear camera on the Transformer peak through the back for those times you simply cannot find your real camera, phone, friends camera, or that disposable camera your grandparents left at your house the last time they visited.
Open the front cover, and you’re greeted with a very executive looking interior which houses your Transformer. The left interior flap has a document pocket, business card holder, SD and Micro SD card slots (2 of each), and a pen/stylus holder located on the spine. The Transformer is then wrapped with leather in to its home on the right side of the case. All of the standard cutouts are there, so front-facing camera, light sensor, power, volume, Micro SD slot, stereo speakers, HDMI, headphone jack, and the ports are all open for business without any issues with misalignment.
The keyboard dock is a pretty straight-forward affair. This second part of the case snaps onto the rear of the tablet case where the stand snaps together for a semi-cohesive setup. The stand then snaps onto the keyboard dock and voila, you have a all inclusive setup. A leather back and a soft, suede like interior lining with corner pockets are all that’s needed for this part.
While tablets are definitely going to be around for a while, they still aren’t perfect in every usage scenario. Frankly, nothing is though. While this may be obvious, it’s easy to forget how nice it is to truly use something in a hands free manor. Beyond the obvious benefits to protection and extra storage for documents and storage, having my Transformer propped up on the counter while listening to Tunein Radio instead of lying on its back is incredibly useful. From there, I could pull up my email, check the news, and really do anything else I need to do while having the Asus slate looking back at me instead of staring at the ceiling. There’s really something to say about not having to worry about holding a tablet to use it.
Now when I pull out the insanely beneficial keyboard dock, which is basically a must have for Transformer owners, the combination gets a little bulky. This is to be expected considering the protection it brings, but the whole package brings the case/tablet/keyboard combo on par with the thickness of standard laptops. Not the worst thing in the world, but noticeably chubby and somewhat heavy. With that being said though, going through the airport and pulling out my full Transformer wrapped with this Tuff-Luv case wasn’t an issue. Once everything is opened up and in use, there isn’t much to say about what Tuff-Luv has done here. The case stays out of your way and gives you an honest and easy environment to get your work or play done.
The benefit of having your entire Transformer and keyboard wrapped in a protective and good looking leather case is quite obvious. The real question that needs to be asked is whether you need the whole package, or just stay simple with the actual tablet case and leave your keyboard setup like a normal laptop. For $120, the entire package certainly adds up, but I’d recommend it for people that put their equipment through some abuse. There simply isn’t anything else on the market that wraps your Transformer combo up. It’s bulky, but will keep your tablet-netbook looking like new. Otherwise, the normal book style tablet case ($80) should suffice for most users. If leather isn’t your thing, you can go the hemp route or even faux leather with their veggie cases for about half the price.[Tuff-Luv]