Thanks mostly to Asus, keyboards and tablets are kind of a thing. It started with the first Transformer, continued with the Slider, and Asus hasn't really looked back since then. And why should it? The Transformer line has been very good to the company, even if the actual keyboard costs up to $150 extra (in addition to the tablet). The Slider isn't as popular, and its prices start at nearly $500.
So there's definitely room for a cheaper Android tablet/keyboard combo. Enter Archos. In November the company will launch its 101 XS, a $400, 10.1-inch tablet, which includes a keyboard accessory at no extra cost. To get my complete impressions, you can read the 101 XS's full review here.
For a quick recommendation of low-price Android tablets with keyboards, however, the hierarchy would look like this: TF300 (with keyboard extra), followed by the Slider, and, finally, the 101 XS.
The $400 price is just too expensive for what the 101 XS offers, and you'd be better off paying more for either of the other two tablets. The TF300's keyboard in particular retails for $150, but actually locks into the tablet, features an extra battery, a full USB port, a full SD card slot, and a touch pad with mouse buttons. These are features you won't find on the 101 XS' keyboard.
If you can find the 101 XS at a heavily discounted price, then it may be worth a look for some. At its full price, however, steer clear.
Here's a quick comparison of three of the lowest-priced full Android tablet solutions to typing on a screen. You can check out my full reviews for the Transformer TF300, the Slider, and the 101 XS to get my full impressions of each.
|Archos 101XS||Asus Transformer Pad TF300||Asus Slider|
|Display||10.1-inch, 1,280x800-pixel display||10.1-inch, 1,280x800-pixel display||10.1-inch, 1,280x800-pixel display|
|Processor||1.5GHz dual-core OMAP 4470||1.2GHz quad-core Tegra 3||1GHz dual-core Tegra 2|
|Capacity||16GB, accepts microSD cards of up to 64GB||16GB, 32GB, tablet accepts microSD cards of up to 32GB, dock accepts full-sized SD cards||16GB, 32GB|
|Cameras||Front-facing camera that supports 720p video||8-megapixel back camera, 1080p HD video recording at 30fps, front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera||5-megapixel back camera, front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera|
|Software||Android 4.0.4||Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean, OTA update)||Android 4.0.4|
|Extra battery (in keyboard)||No||Yes||No|
|Pricing||$399 for 16GB (keyboard included)||$380 for 16GB, 399 for 32GB, $150 for Keyboard dock||$479 for 16GB, $579 for 32GB|