Weightier than other 10-inch tablets, but slide out the keyboard and you’ll see its secret weapon. Great overall build and a keyboard that’s a dream to use
The combination of touch-screen and keyboard raises this tablet to a new standard of usability and entertainment. Input text with the keyboard, browse and click with your hand – it’s seemless and gets you into a really exciting and joined up way of using technology
The Android Honeycomb 3.2 OS makes for a fantastically customisable experience, and the tablet comes with some handy preloaded apps to get you started, such as Polaris Office
The Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor keeps things ticking over nicely, so not too much lag to report apart from the odd video glitch on things like the iPlayer, and at times the touch-screen is unresponsive
The kind of tablet that will happily see you through a day’s emailing, writing and social networking, but video eats that battery life up fast
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 4:02:22 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Inputting and editing text is simply brilliant, screen is sharp and colourful, seemless transition between work and play
Expensive at £450, touch-screen can be temperamental, heavier and thicker than other 10-inch tablets
Tablets are cool. It’s as simple as that. It’s hard to write a review of any tablet without resorting to words that emphasise their coolness, but the elegantly designed elephant in the room is that in most cases they are a luxurious extra somewhere in between your smartphone and your laptop. Gun to your head, would you actually replace your laptop or netbook with a tablet? Unless you have an enviable disposable income then probably not. Years of working on desktop PCs or Macbooks have made us creatures of habit and the prospect of forking out £300-plus on something that allows us to check email without leaving the couch but can’t fully replicate the experience of direct input via a keyboard doesn’t quite sit well. It feels like a laptop is still required as a safety net, thereby making that investment in tantilising touch-screen tech a hedonistic step too far for most of us. The holy grail of tablets is a device that combines the fun of a touch-screen with the functionality of a laptop without compromising on either. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer was a revelation, with its slinky form and brilliant detachable keyboard, but the Asus Eee Pad Slider is possibly the finest example of this concept on the market.
Just a few hours after booting up this beautifully engineered device with its crisp 10-inch multi-touch display and astoundingly comfortable slide-out keyboard and you’ll start to think, is this the moment that I’ve been waiting for? While it is entirely possible to type out whole essays and long emails on a touch-screen device, the fact remains that many lack the patience to deal with an on-screen keyboard for prolongued lengths of time. We want more formatting, we like keys. The Asus Eee Pad Slider joins the practicality of a laptop seemlessly with the fun of a touch-screen tablet.
This doesn't feel like a Frankenstein-like cobbling together of a tablet and a keyboard. This is a curvy tablet with a black frame on screen, edged with silver and a combination of metallic black and silver on its back. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a featherweight 565g and mere 8.6mm thick; the iPad 2 is not too far behind, weighing 607g and just 8.8mm. The Asus Eee Pad Slider is almost double the size at 17.3mm and at 960g it's certainly a tad heavier. That said, it’s not as heavy as you might think a gadget discreetly hiding a keyboard would be. The touch-screen portion of the tablet is free of buttons – these are all to be found on the keyboard base of the device, and positioned around a landscape orientation. Up top you’ll find a charge and mini HDMI port. Down the left is the microSD port for extra memory, a reset button, volume rocker and power/sleep button. The right hand side houses your 3.5mm headphone jack and USB. Landscape mode is naturally where the keyboard is revealed; after gently prising the top open you’ll find a small but well spaced and responsive keyboard that makes typing an absolute breeze.
Even spacing, a satisfying click of the keys and everything we’ve become subconsciously used to – it’s like any other keyboard really but elegantly designed into a tablet to give you a unique way of working. Typing on this tablet is quite simply brilliant. If you're a very fast typer then you may find yourself editing quite a bit, especially as you get used to downsizing your movements from a desktop to this scaled down version. Thankfully, the combination of QWERTY keyboard and touch-screen makes this easy; one touch and your cursor moves to the offending character and you can get back on track. Use this long enough and the idea of going back to a regular non-touch-screen seems odd and inconvenient. What you’ll really love about the experience is how seemlessly you can work and play. You'll be typing out a document and a push notification for Facebook, Twitter or that important business email you've been waiting for will appear at the bottom of the screen for you to access. Of course, you get notifications while you're typing on any touch-screen, but that's not quite the same. You feel like you're not missing out on anything at all, whether that's at work or at play.
The Eee Pad Slider runs on Android Honeycomb 3.2 (updatable to Ice Cream Sandwich), so we’re already in user-friendly, customisation territory straight out of the box. No vast array of preloaded apps, but you’ll find the usual email, calendar and map suspects to get you started. You’ll also find some unique Asus apps such as its cloud storage service MyCloud, media streaming programme MyNet and the MyLibrary app that consolidates all your books as well as newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Polaris Office 3.0 also comes preloaded on the device and allows you to format your documents just as you would on a regular PC or Mac. The operating system is helped along by a Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor that makes multitasking that little bit slicker. The interface has five customisable home screens set in a 3D carousel with single touch access to any of your programs via the top right Apps option. The Eee Pad Slider even has two cameras: a five megapixel rear-facing snapper for capturing high-res images and a front-facing 1.2-megapixel lens for video calls. The 10.1-inch LED backlight screen is delightfully crisp and colourful, perfect for watching movies, playing games or just checking your Twitter timeline. Flash videos play well, except for the odd flash of black when streaming from iPlayer. For the most part, expect a great viewing experience.It’s not perfect though. The touch-screen was at times maddeningly unresponsive and while browsing the web was solid, there was the odd slow down or glitch when watching videos or zooming in. Your charge will last you a full day of typing and social networking but that’ll run out fast once you start viewing videos or playing games. Where this tablet will not make friends is in its £450 price tag and lack of 3G, as well as its hybrid hardware and the impact it has on its portability. Tipping the scales at 960g and a hefty 17.3mm thick, the Eee Pad Slider is no skinny minnie and it’s heavier than many of its 10-inch peers. Frankly, to hell with it – the keyboard is what makes this tablet so special. It’s in the responsiveness of the keys, the surprise you get when you open it out – the mechanism is fluid and it sits perfectly at an ideal angle for viewing videos, entering text or just bumming around on your social networks. It’s not at all flimsy, but it doesn’t feel bulky in hand either. Yes, there’s a little extra weight, but for what you’re getting it’s positively feather-light. Just being able to type and swipe made the Android experience on the Asus Eee Pad Slider that little bit more special.
As much as touch-screens feel like a little slice of the future, the joy of using one is going to be lost to many who consider the lack of a keyboard to be a non-negotiable. Offering the best of both worlds is a tough line to walk and some devices end up a muddied mess of good intentions, but the Asus Eee Pad Slider will reinvigorate your belief that you can have it all without sacrificing the tactile pleasure and accuracy of typing on a keyboard. This is a high-end device that comes with a high-end price tag, but if you are going to buy a tablet and have fretted over that seemingly essential back-up laptop, then the Asus Eee Pad Slider is the device you need to consider. Android customisability, a user-friendly interface with preloaded apps you will actually use and a beautifully designed form that incorporates that superlative keyboard. If there is one tablet to finally answer the question of whether a tablet can fittingly replace a traditional computer, it is the Asus Eee Pad Slider.