Looking for a laptop replacement that has a responsive 10.1" capacitive touch screen, a basic Office suite and weighs only 2.1 pounds? The Asus Eee Pad Slider wants to go home with you. The Slider is an Android Honeycomb 3.2 tablet with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, WiFi and the usual solid Webkit web browser with Adobe Flash. It can handle email, web work, Office documents along with multimedia and 3D games. Asus made this tablet for those of you who always want a keyboard with you, and want an all-in-one design.
Asus is one of the few tablet makers that dares to do something different. Their Eee Pad Transformer has been one of the most popular Android tablets because it offers a quality package at a low price, and features the optional keyboard dock that turns it into a laptop form factor while adding an extended battery. Asus is at it again with the Slider, the first large tablet to use a slider keyboard design that's normally seen only on phones. Beyond the optional detachable keyboard vs. permanent slider keyboard design, these two tablets share identical specs, though the Eee Pad Slider is just a bit faster in benchmarks. The tablet has a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU, a gig of RAM and it's available with 16 or 32 gigs of storage. It has a microSD card slot and a full size USB port with USB host capability so you can use flash drives, external hard drives and mice.
The 2.1 pound tablet is heavier than keyboard-less tablets, but it's lighter than the 3 pound Asus Eee Pad Transformer mated to the optional keyboard dock, and it's lighter than netbooks. The design and build are very good, and the machine has an elegant look that doesn't translate well to photos. If you see it in person, you'll be impressed. It looks more posh and polished than the Transformer, and it doesn't scream "plastic" when viewed from the back as do most 10" Android tablets. It's available in brown and white. Like the Transformer, it's priced lower than most Honeycomb 10" tablets on the market, but you're not giving up anything by spending less. In fact, you get a few high end goodies like an IPS display with wide viewing angles.
Design, Display and Keyboard
The tablet's sides are curved, an unusual design cue that makes it more comfortable to hold. When closed, the Eee Pad Slider looks like a thicker than average tablet, and the two-section design is by no means apparent. The back has a soft touch finish that looks classy and feels good in hand, and there's a contrasting band at the bottom. All ports are accessible when the tablet is closed. To deploy the keyboard you'll lift the display portion from the top (there's a diagram showing how to do this on the disposable LCD protector that ships with the unit). It's easy enough to do if you follow Asus' instructions; diverge from them (why would you?) and you'll find it difficult to open.
The rear hinge assembly is very sturdy and has a reassuring spring that helps lock it in the open or closed position. It feels solid and we have no doubt it will last years. You can't change the viewing angle when the tablet is open in laptop mode. This will likely drive some folks crazy, though we found the 45 degree angle was actually the best for comfortable viewing and avoiding glare. Speaking of glare, the Eee Pad Slider has the usual glossy touch screen, but we found it slightly less mirror-like than our Transformer. The display is also a little bit brighter than the already bright Transformer's. The 1280 x 800 pixel IPS display has very wide viewing angles (178 degrees), with good color saturation and high contrast. It's not as super-saturated as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9 displays, and it's starker than the iPad 2's display, but that doesn't mean it isn't a very good display. We easily prefer it to the more pedestrian LCDs used on the Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia Tab A500 and Toshiba Thrive.
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Asus Eee Pad Slider Video Review
The keyboard is almost as large as the Transformer's, which is the size of a 10" netbook's, but you lose the Transformer's trackpad. Since you've got a touch screen, this isn't a deal breaker in our minds, and you can use a USB or Bluetooth mouse. What we do miss is the wrist rest area that surrounds a trackpad; with the Slider you'll rest your hands and wrists on the table or your lap when you type. The keys are just a tiny bit smaller than the Transformer's or a 10" netbook's, but after 20 minutes of practice, I was able to type this review using the Slider.
Performance and Multimedia
The Eee Pad Slider has the usual set of 10" Android Honeycomb tablet specs: a 1GHz dual core Nvidia CPU with hardware graphics acceleration, a gig of RAM and either 16 or 32 gigs of storage. Our tablet came with OS 3.1 and updated itself immediately to 3.2.1, currently the latest version of Honeycomb available. We love that Asus caters to geeky types, and gets OS updates out extremely quickly.
The tablet feels and is speedy. It's more than up to the task of working with the included Polaris Office suite (a full MS Office compatible suite that can view, edit and create Office docs). That's the easy part, as is email and PIM performance. The Slider handled harder tasks equally as well: playing 720p high profile MPEG4 video, 1080p standard profile MPEG4 video, streaming Netflix over WiFi (Netflix is now available for all Honeycomb tablets), and Adobe Flash 11 playback. The Eee Pad Slider has identical specs to the Eee Pad Transformer, but it scored 57 in the Quadrant benchmark test, which is slightly higher than the Transformer. It scored the same as the Transformer in the multi-thread Linpack test: 57.
Asus' strong point hasn't been tablet speakers. Like the Transformer, the Slider's stereo speakers are small, quiet and tinny, though it is a bit louder than the Transformer. You'll definitely want to cozy up with headphones if you plan to watch a movie or enjoy quality background music. The tablet has SRS mobile surround sound software, and audio tracks in movies did sound spacious, though more bass-heavy with SRS on.
The Asus Eee Pad Slider lasts as long as the Transformer tablet (without optional dock). We averaged 8 hours of actual usage in a mix of email, web, playing a few YouTube videos and word processing. The tablet can play more than 6 hours of video, making it more than capable of handling a transcontinental flight. The battery is 25.4 Wh, and it's sealed inside the unit, as is the case with most tablets.
Tablet cameras aren't great. We haven't found one that impressed us except the 8 megapixel camera on the much more expensive HTC Jetstream. The Eee Pad Slider again shows improvement over the Transformer for camera quality (both front and rear), though the nominal specs are the same: a rear autofocus 5 megapixel camera and front 1.2 megapixel camera that works well with Google Talk video chat and the recently released Skype for Honeycomb.
Asus Eee Pad Slider vs. Asus Eee Pad Transformer
The Asus Transformer is a hard act to follow: when paired with the keyboard dock it's both a tablet and a notebook, and it has 10 hour battery life thanks to the secondary battery in the dock. But the pair weighs 3 pounds, and you've got to attach the dock to get full USB ports, even if you don't need the keyboard. The Asus Eee Pad Slider is very capable all-in-one that weighs a pound less than the Transformer plus keyboard. Everything is there: USB port and keyboard. If you find you need a keyboard most of the time, or hate breaking it out (or buying it) just to use full USB, then the Slider has definite appeal. It's also got a more high quality and classy chassis, and the keyboard acts as a built-in stand.
The Asus Eee Pad Slider has quickly become one of my favorite tablets. It's perfect for those who are looking for a laptop replacement, and the keyboard, though small, is adequate for those who don't have quite large hands and fingers. The Slider is fast, runs the latest version of Honeycomb, and we expect it to receive timely updates given Asus' track record. The tablet is lighter than netbooks and ultrabooks, and it works with USB peripherals like mice, flash drives and hard drives for on-the-road versatility.
Price: $479 for 16 gig model and $579 for 32 gig model
Display:10.1" capacitive multi-touch
IPS display (Gorilla Glass). Resolution:
1280 x 800, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer, has ambient light sensor and gyroscope. Mini HDMI 1.3a port. 178 degree viewing angle display.
Ion rechargeable. Batteries are not user replaceable.
25.4 Wh battery, claimed battery life 9.5 hours.
Performance:NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz CPU with 1 gig RAM and 16 gigs or 32 internal flash storage.
Size:10.8 x 7.1 x 0.7 inches, 2.1 pounds.
Camera:5 megapixel autofocus rear camera and 1.2 megapixel front video chat camera (works with Google Talk).
in stereo speakers with SRS mobile surround sound software, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
WiFi 802.11b/g/n (single band n 2.4GHz) and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR.
Software:Android OS 3.2 Honeycomb. Google apps: search, voice search, Maps, Navigation, Places, Gmail, Email, web browser, Market, Gtalk with video chat, Books (Google ebook reader), Gallery, YouTube, Music, Clock, Calculator, Contacts, Calendar and Latitude. Third party apps: MyNet dLNA, MyLibrary ebook reader, MyCloud (cloud storage and PC remote control software by Splashtop) and file manager.
Expansion: and Ports1
SDHC microSD card slot. 1 USB 2.0 port (full size), mini HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack.