Keyboard loving Android tablet users have yet another choice. The much anticipated Asus Eee Pad Slider is finally out, and it's a theme and variation on the successful Asus Eee Pad Transformer. The Transformer has been the most popular Android Honeycomb tablet thanks to its low price, excellent set of features and the optional $149 keyboard dock that transforms the tablet into a notebook-replacement. But the Transformer and dock together weigh 3 pounds, and you've got a trackpad you might never use taking up space.
So Asus came up with a sliding design that accommodates a full QWERTY keyboard with number row, and the attractive tablet weighs 2.1 pounds. Though the Eee Pad Slider looks a little odd in some photos and videos, in person it looks quite attractive, and we like the curved sides and soft touch back. It's available in brown (a complex brown whose color changes with the light), and white is coming.
In terms of specs, it's the same as the Transformer and other Honeycomb tablets. You get a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 that benchmarks the same as the Transformer, a gig of RAM, 16 or 32 gigs of storage, WiFi, Bluetooth and a GPS. It has a front video chat camera and a rear 5MP camera. It has a 25 wHr battery and uses the same charger and proprietary cable as the Transformer. The tablet has an IPS display with wide viewing angles, and we noticed it's a bit brighter than our Transformer's, and a bit more color accurate.
The keyboard is small, but I had no trouble typing on it after a 5 minute adjustment period. In fact, I actually typed better on the Slider's keyboard than the Transformer's keyboard dock. A full size USB port supporting USB host is built-in, a nice upgrade from the Transformer that requires the keyboard dock to get those USB ports.
The tablet ships with Android OS 3.1, and will upgrade itself to 3.2 on first boot (with your permission, of course, but why would you say no?).
Here's our Asus Eee Pad Slider video review. Full written review to follow next week.