Of all the Honeycomb tablet manufacturers, Asus has been one of, if not the most successful. in may and April, the company sold 500,000 Eee Pad Transformers, with another 300,000 in June. So, why Asus and not I91 4G Lenovo, Toshiba, Motorola, or one of the other many tablet makers? because the Taiwanese company understood early on that if it was going to go toe-to-toe with the iPad it had to do two things: differentiate on form factor and on price. The fact that you can pick up the Eee Pad Transformer tablet and the dock — which adds eight hours of battery life and a keyboard — for $550 has made it wholly different from not only every other cookie cutter Android tab, but, yes, also the iPad.
Hardware / designAt this point, most of the tablets on my desk look extremely similar. and by extremely similar, I mean they either look a lot like the original iPad or the iPad 2. However, there’s no mistaking the Slider for either of Apple’s tablets. while the top of the device has the typical black glossy display — albeit with a much larger bezel (more on that below) — the back and edges are coated in a combination of white and champagne-colored, soft-touch plastic. There’s also a mocha / black version, but you know how some of us around here get pumped up about white gadgets.
Of course, what really sets the Slider apart isDapeng T7000 the fact that you can slide the display upwards by lifting a small latch behind the top of the panel to reveal its physical keyboard. It’s a bit odd that you don’t actually push up from the bottom of the screen, like you would on a smartphone, but it seems that lifting the screen allows the mechanism to glide along smoother. Speaking of the mechanism, which you can see by only peeking around the sides, it works quite well and it’s sturdier than I imagined it would be. (Asus says the test units had to pass a total of 30,000 swing counts, which consisted of six cycles per minute.) Unfortunately, there’s no way to adjust the angle of the screen — once popped into the keyboard mode, it’s locked at a 45-degree angle.
CamerasI’m not going to spend too long talking about the 5-megapixel rear camera on the Slider because the idea that you would hold this thing up and take a picture in public is insane. It’s not only heavy and awkward, but it just isn’t worth the effort since the picture quality is beyond disappointing. every image I shot, whether they were inside or outside, was grainy and F9 slightly blurry. All the evidence you need is in the gallery below. By the way, the camera is on the bottom of the keyboard so it hits whatever surface you sit it on when in keyboard mode — there are some rubber feet on there to protect it. The front-facing 1.2-megapixel shooter is what you’d expect — you’re not going to want to take your new Facebook Timeline shot with this, but it is fine for video chatting or checking your teeth for food.
ScreenLike the Transformer, the Slider’s 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800-resolution IPS display is very high quality and quite impressive for the price. Viewing angles are extremely wide, which is of the utmost importance since you’ll be looking at the screen from a 45-degree angle (if not slightly greater) at all times because of the fixed positioning of the hinge. It’s also sufficiently bright, although not as beaming at max brightness as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the iPad. It’s also pretty handy that you can adjust the screen brightness using a keyboard shortcut (Fn+B and Fn+N).
However, my major complaint about the screen is the larger bezel. The display is flanked by 1.2 inches of vertical frame — or at least, that’s the measurement from the widest part of the slightly curved screen edge. It’s obvious that this was a move to accommodate a wider keyboard, but the result is an awkward looking display when the keyboard is hidden and you hold the tablet in either landscape or portrait mode.
SoftwareThe Slider runs the latest version of Honeycomb (3.2) with some minor adjustments from Asus. The most noticeable tweaks come with the slightly redesigned back, home, and recent apps buttons, the aforementioned software keyboard, and that unique “MyWater” wallpaper pictured above. The water level actually lowers as the battery drains. It’s a very cool trick, but it causes the tablet to be noticeably sluggish, especially when changing the screen orientation, and likely causes the actual battery to drain even faster. beyond all that, Asus bundles a lot of its own apps, including MyNet (a DLNA assistant), MyCloud (which includes unlimited storage for a year), MyLibrary, and @vibe. Splashtop’s MyDesktop is included in the MyCloud app for remote desktop control, and while it could have been quite useful with this form factor, its was rather sluggish when I tried to control a Windows 7 laptop. On top of that, it requires the PC and Slider to be on the same network, which sort of defeats the entire purpose.
Performance, batteryThe Slider has the same internals as the Transformer and most of its Honeycomb tablet compatriots — a dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of local storage. for the most part, performance is on par with the other dual-core Honeycomb tablets, meaning the internals are peppy enough to push along the OS and a number of applications. However, as you’ve probably gleaned from parts of the review, there’s some noticeable sluggishness when it comes to heavy animation aspects, including the wallpaper and an overload of widgets. That aside, the presence of the keyboard means you’ll likely be pushing this thing to its multitasking limits, yet I still found switching between open applications to be quite smooth and running multiple apps at a time to be no issue. The only real issue is stability of some apps.
Wrap-upWhen it came to writing the conclusion of the Eee Pad Transformer review, I could confidently say that those looking for a tablet with a keyboard didn’t have to look any further. but that’s simply not the case for the Slider. while it may have a more clever and innovative form factor, the fact that the keyboard is always present causes it to be the chunkiest tablet on the market. and even then, the keyboard isn’t as nice as the Transformer’s or other third-party docks for the iPad. yes, the $469 Slider is certainly a head-turning solution and one that may be more convenient for those that constantly require a physical keyboard to accompany their tablet. However, when you can get a Transformer with a better keyboard, a screen that can be angled to your liking, and more than two times the battery life for just $71 more, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s for those reasons that I doubt Asus will sell as many Sliders as it has Transformers — but, of course, something tells me we haven’t seen the last of Asus’ crazy tablet form factor and price one-two-punch.