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Can you charge the Asus Transformer (or the newer Prime) without the keyboard dock?

Since the tablet itself does not have any USB ports, I don't see how you could charge the tablet without the dock or a very clunky proprietary charging cable. However, It seems insane to manufacture and market a high-end tablet that can't charge without a giant peripheral (and sell/price the thing independently too).

Am I missing something? Or, is Asus just insane?

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I haven't really been in the tablet world at all, my android experience has been exclusively as a smartphone developer/user. I didn't realize (or even suspect) that the android tabled manufacturers had gone the proprietary route for their connections. I expected that from Apple, but I didn't expect the android tablets to eschew micro-USB or standerd USB. I have one kind of cable for all my other devices (save laptop), and I feel inclined to pass on any device that wants me to carry another cable. –  Chris Bye Jan 13 '12 at 14:52
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The reason that this is common with tablets is the higher-capacity batteries necessary for a tablet would take an extremely long time to charge with a 5V, 500ma USB-standard connection. By using a proprietary connector, the manufacturer can spec a higher-capacity charging system. In the case of the Transformer and Transformer Prime, the connector also supports the keyboard dock and a few other accessories. –  TomG May 19 '12 at 2:07
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7 Answers 7

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It comes with an AC adapter and a charging/data cable which can plug directly into the tablet, though it does still use their proprietary cable connection since it plugs into the same connector that the keyboard dock uses (the other end is male USB).

Using proprietary charging cables is not unheard of - Samsung and Apple have done this; I don't personally like it when companies use proprietary cables, but in this case it's mostly because the charging/data port doubles as the dock connector.

Here's an image from Engadget's unboxing/review of the Prime. The AC adapter is at the bottom.

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First off, the charging cable for Transformer is not that clunky. Sure, inconvenient having to carry another cable and adapter, but it's not that bad.

Second, Asus is not the only manufacturer to use a proprietary port (with the required proprietary charging/data cable) instead of USB or MicroUSB connections. Samsung tablets are notorious for requiring a similarly shaped 30-pin cable and A/C adapter for charging and data transfer. All Apple's iOS devices also have a similar cable/adapter requirement.

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As others have pointed out, the Transformer does require a proprietary cable for charging. There are a couple of drawbacks to this.

  1. The supplied cable is not very long. My Nexus S phone came with a really long micro-USB cable and it's great, because I can plug the phone in and put it up on a high shelf out of reach of the kids (who know not to touch the wires).
  2. The cable is a proprietary plug on one end, and standard USB device plug on the other end. But don't be fooled: it won't charge from the PC. The Asus adapter (which is AC-USB power) detects the transformer and negotiates a higher current/voltage. The Transformer won't charge in a standard USB plug. You can, however, use the Asus adapter to charge normal USB devices without problems.

I am not sure why Asus went with a proprietary cable for charging. I suspect it's because that port is meant to be a multipurpose port for the dock, charging, and accessories, and that using a proprietary port makes all that much easier. However there aren't really any accessories for it and anyway they could have included a micro-usb port along with the dock/accessory port.

In any case, you would still need the wall plug adapter because of the higher power requirements for charging this device.

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The Transformer Prime will charge from a standard USB connection, albeit slowly, if the screen is off. I've never waited long enough to see whether it will make it to 100%, but I've been able to raise mine from 20% to 40% by connecting it to my computer's USB port. –  TomG May 19 '12 at 2:03
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I think the proprietary charger is needed because of the higher voltages required by the dual-battery design. I guess you could use the regular usb connector, but it might annoy people when a regular cable did not work because it does not provide the right voltages. Using the odd connector ensures that the correct charger gets used.

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From what I can see, the transformer charger works much simpeler. If you look closely into the USB connections, you can see an extra set of five pins. At the charger USB socket, a pair of these pins supplies +15V to the tablet. References on the net state that is OK to connect a +12V source to the USB power pins.

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Most of these answers are correct as far as they go.

  • You CAN charge the ASUS Transformer without the base using any standard USB source (computer, plug, etc) with the proprietary cable. The Transformer needs to be off or at least have the screen blank in order for this to work, and with less than 10 volts it will NOT indicate that it is charging...but it is, albeit very slowly.

  • The included wall charger uses pin 3 of the USB to determine if it is connected to an ASUS transformer or another device. It supplies 15 volts if connected to the Transformer or base, and 5 volts to any other device so it can be safely used to charge a phone or other device.

  • Many people have successfully charged their transformer with a direct connection to a 12-volt source like a car battery. The positive terminal needs to go to USB pin 1 (red wire) and the negative to the ground at pin 4. BE AWARE THAT WHILE THIS WORKS, IT MAY VOID YOUR WARRANTY. Such a charging setup CANNOT BE USED FOR PHONES OR OTHER DEVICES!

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Thanks for the answer. Some of this sounds dangerous, however. Can you cite a credible source, please (e.g., XDA developers)? –  ce4 Nov 29 '12 at 8:08
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!I found a PowerBolt Duo Car Charger by Kensington at Tiger Direct. One USB connector puts out 2.1 amps, which is what the ASUS transformer wants, and the other is 1.0 amp. I am sure that there are others available. It doesn't solve the "short cable" problem though

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