Asus Eee Pad Slider Review

5
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Breaking our deeply rooted habits, tablets have seemingly transformed the way we do personal computing, and rightfully so, we’ve been treated to a broad range of models – though, there’s still very little innovation between them when it comes to form factor. In its bid to make a name for itself in this highly competitive market, Asus was able to capture our attention with the Eee Pad Transformer from last year not only for its inexpensive cost, but for its innovative keyboard dock as well.

Fortunately for us, the time has come to check out another interesting design by the company – the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101. With this tablet, the manufacturer has forgone the keyboard dock and has simply incorporated a physical keyboard to reduce the amount of items you need to lug around. However, when it comes down to it, will it be a practical thing without making too many compromises?

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Start Guide
  • Product and Safety Information

Design:


Staring at it head on, the Eee Pad Slider has a slight resemblance to the original Transformer, but upon closer inspection, they’re actually very different from one another. Overall, the Asus Eee Pad Slider is essentially thicker (0.68”/17.2mm thick), heavier (33.86 oz/960 grams), and by golly a whole lot larger in every way imaginable, compared to both the Transformer and the Prime. Not afraid to hide its girth, our hands tire very easily after holding the hefty tablet for a little bit of time, but then again, that’s the compromise made to pack a keyboard. It’s soundly solid feeling thanks to its sturdy plastic body that’s accentuated by its contrasting soft touch surfaces. Instead of boasting an in your face look, it plays it safe by sticking to a conventional design that doesn’t take away from its secret surprise.



Very much acting like a netbook, we find an abundance of ports and buttons around its sides,  positioned in places that we would normally find then on a laptop. These include its power button, volume rocker, manual reset button, microSD card slot, proprietary charging/data port, miniHDMI port, 3.5mm headset jack, and full-sized USB port. Finally, its lonesome 5-megapixel auto-focus camera sits squarely in the rear, but it’s lacking a flash.



Honestly, it’s so great to find a manufacturer taking the bull by its horn when it comes to variety amongst tablets. Asus is doing it again! Unlike the mechanics used by most QWERTY based smartphones, accessing its keyboard is accomplished by pulling the top edge of the tablet. Once the mechanism starts going, it locks firmly into a fixed position thanks to the stainless steel part holding it up, which is actually one of the gripes we find since it’s only comfortable to use in a seated position with the tablet placed on a level table – as opposed to placing it on our lap.


Nevertheless, its chicklet style buttons are raised enough to offer distinction between them, though, the response is a tad bit soft. At first, we struggled to use it, but after some practice, our accuracy progressively became better. Eventually, we find it practical to use, but people with larger fingers will find it rather challenging.



Display:

The Slider features the same display found on the original Transformer, which is none other than a 10.1” WXGA (1280 x 800) IPS display. Just like before, we’re content with its quality thanks to its pleasant looking details, wide viewing angles, high-contrast appearance, and realistic color production. Testing it out further in outdoor conditions, we’re still able to visibly make out items on screen with almost no issues at all – and it simply goes to show why we’re very pleased once again by it.





Interface and Functionality:

Considering that the Asus Eee Pad Slider has been on the market for some time now, it doesn’t surprise us to see it donning the stock Android 3.2.1 Honeycomb experience out of the box. As much as we’ve been spoiled by Ice Cream Sandwich of late, we’re insightfully forgiving seeing that it’s not a drastic departure from what we’ve been witnessing, but nonetheless, it’s surely confirmed to hit the tablet at some point in the future.

Similar to other Honeycomb flavored tablets, it features the customary depth of personalization with its useful widgets and snazzy looking live wallpapers. Aside from the Asus specific widgets, such as the clock and weather ones, there is absolutely nothing new with this over its contemporaries.


Above all, we undoubtedly prefer using its physical keyboard to type up long messages, but as an alternative, we have two on-screen options – these include the stock Honeycomb and Asus keyboard. Between the two, we prefer using the stock one basically for its spacious layout, whereas the Asus one is cramped with its squished buttons. Exhibiting a tasteful response as we click away, it doesn’t have any issues trying to keep up with our feverish rate.


Not surprisingly, the Gmail and standard email apps are appropriately laid out to take advantage of the spacious confines available with the tablet – so organizing emails is a pleasure to handle. Moreover, setup is a breeze seeing it simply requires our email address and password for automatic completion.



Processor and Memory:

Fitting in with the usual crew, the tablet indirectly positions itself with other first-generation Honeycomb stuffed tablets thanks primarily to its 1.2GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. Coupled with 1GB of RAM, its performance doesn’t deviate as it exhibits all of the laurels and qualms we’ve come to find – such as its smooth operation when navigating its homescreen with static wallpapers. Concurrently, its displays some levels of choppiness when activating live wallpapers. Thankfully, it’s not a major distraction , and as a whole, we’re content with its performance.

Marketed as offering 16GB of internal storage, it actually turns out to be 12.63GB out of the box, but lucky for all of us, its microSD card slot is willing and ready to accept cards up to 32GB in size.

Internet and Connectivity:

Continuing to provide a stellar web browsing experience, the Slider, just like its close relatives, is able to present us with that casual performance that we’ve come to enjoy on so many levels. Aside from swiftly loading and rendering complex sites like ours, it doesn’t flinch that much in the wake of Flash content on screen. Exhibiting mostly responsive navigational controls, the only miniscule thing worth pointing out is some bouts of choppiness that we see – though, it doesn’t occur all that much. Again, we’re not surprised to see the tablet performing handsomely in this category.


So far, we’ve yet to find any cellular enabled tablets from the Asus camp, and right on the mark, we continue to say the same thing since the Slider is only available in Wi-Fi form. Along for the ride, it features the same set of connectivity items we’re accustomed to seeing – like aGPS and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR.



Camera:

Underwhelmed yet again, the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera of the Asus Eee Pad Slider fails to impress as its quality is wretched – like to the point abysmal. With still shots, they’re simply too soft in tone with details, which tends to come off as muddy looking at times. Snapshots taken in low lighting don’t get any better in the quality department as they’re super grainy and filled with too much noise to enjoy.




And don’t even bother with shooting 720p videos, especially when they’re far from being regarded as “high-definition” in any shape or form. Souring its quality, we find many distractions that include poor details, bouts of artifacting when panning quickly, unrealistic color reproduction, distorted audio recording, and a jumpy exposure. Simply, it’s absolutely horrifying for a tablet!

Asus Eee Pad Slider Sample Video:



Multimedia:

Well, what can we say more about the stock Honeycomb player? Yet again, we adore the 3D carousel interface it offers when browsing through albums, but beyond that, there’s nothing particularly new with it. Strangely, its speakers are placed in the area above its keyboard, but it’s actually hidden from view when the tablet is in its closed position – thus, it doesn’t disperse audio properly and minimizes its volume output. Despite being very weak in tone, it doesn’t crackle or sound strained.


Video junkies will surely appreciate the Slider, especially when its IPS display adheres well to our test video that’s encoded in MPEG-4 1920 x 1080 resolution. Of course, the entire experience is more than satisfactory as we’re treated to pleasing looking details, accurate colors, and a smooth playback. However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t support videos encoded in DivX or Xvid out of the box.


When so many devices opt to use a microHDMI port for video out functionality, we’re somewhat irked to find a miniHDMI port instead on the Slider. Needless to say, we undoubtedly love the availability of video-out functionality, but it would’ve been generous for them to opt for a more favorable microHDMI port. Oh yeah, it also offer DLNA functionality with the preloaded MyNet app.





Performance:

Power users will be especially fond of the tablet, well, that’s because its battery life is deliciously ample for even the most hardened users out there. In fact, it easily satisfies our needs as it accomplishes one solid day of normal usage on a full charge. By the end of the night, it’s left at the 40% mark, which is good enough to get us through most of our second day of usage.

Conclusion:

Here’s the deal. If you yearn to minimize what you carry along on a daily basis, the Asus Eee Pad Slider is the perfect solution as it already incorporates a physical keyboard – even if it’s on the cramped side. Not to mention, it’s also the only Android tablet on the market to sport this form factor.

Initially, its $479.99 cost seems mightily appealing considering there’s no additional spending required for a keyboard, but eventually its compromises are blatantly sticking out like a sore thumb to justify things. However, we simply ache in knowing that an extra $200 will nab you the killer spec’d Asus Transformer Prime – with its add-on keyboard dock. A slightly more affordable option (than the Prime) is also found with the original Transformer. If purchased with the keyboard dock, it will be just a tad pricier than the Slider.

Android Version: 3.2.1
Kernel Version: 2.6.36.3-00001-g9a21fc1
Build Number: HTK75.US_epad-8.6.5.21-20111216

Asus Eee Pad Slider Video Review:





Pros

  • Incorporates a keyboard
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Extremely bulky and heavy
  • Subpar camera
  • Inconvenient positioning of its speakers

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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