Long ago, Windows slate Tablet PCs might not have been plentiful, but you had your choice of several models. Those have gone the way of the vertical market, while tablets running mobile operating systems like iOS and Android have flourished in the consumer market. Both ASUS and Acer are trying out the Windows Tablet again (Acer will soon have an Iconia Windows 7 tablet), and ASUS has gotten it right.
The Eee Slate has a 12.1", 1280 x 800 pixel AFFS display that's similar to IPS but with better outdoor viewability. It has capacitive multi-touch and an active digitizer (Wacom with pen) all under Gorilla Glass. It's a thing of beauty and a graphic artist's dream. If only it were matte, it would be perfect. Windows 7 was made to play nicely with 12.1" and above displays for tablet and touch features, and we're glad ASUS didn't try to shrink this down to 10 inches because it would have been disastrous for touch control.
It's half the price of vertical tablets at $999 and $1,099, it looks sexy and can handle plenty of multimedia. One of the advantages of a Windows 7 tablet is that you don't have to worry about Flash support, or Silverlight or whatever plugin powers your favorite video streaming service-- they're all there since this is Windows. Netflix, Hulu... the world is your oyster. Likewise, Photoshop CS5, Painter 11 and other demanding apps run well.
The Eee Slate EP121 is no slouch with a ULV Core i5 CPU and your choice of 2 gigs of RAM and a 32 gig SSD or 4 gigs of RAM and a 64 gig SSD drive. It has Intel HD graphics, 2 USB ports, HDMI out and weighs 2.5 pounds. It's well-balanced and attractive looking. ASUS claims up to 5.4 hours of battery life, but we get more like 3 to 3.5 hours with the non-removable battery.
Who's this tablet for? Those who want to do both content creation and consumption. The Eee Slate can do anything Windows 7 offers. If you're a graphic artist, this is your product rather than an iPad or Xoom. If you're seriously into video and want to play all formats and streaming services on a bright and vibrant 12" LCD, this is your tablet. If you need pen input for whatever you do, this is your kind of tablet. It's also great for students since you can take notes with the pen in Windows Journal, One Note or the app of your choice.
Here's our ASUS Eee Slate video review:
Our full written review will follow next week.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview