Asus' Eee Pad Slider combines a hardened glass display, slide out keyboard and productivity applications pre-loaded. It should be the ultimate productivity tablet, which for many users has been the holy grail of tablets. Sadly, pilgrims, you're going to have to keep questing. Here's why.
My US counterparts already reviewed the Eee Pad Slider a week ago; they weren't that impressed. I'd seen a prototype of the Slider some months back and came away impressed by the concept and keen to see whether Asus could pull it off. Having spent some time with the Slider, I'm rather disappointed to say that they haven't.
What We Like
The overall design idea of the Eee Pad Slider is a sound one, and not just for business types. If you're going to be doing any kind of text creation on a tablet, a keyboard quickly becomes something of a must, so having one that's permanently there has merit. Physical construction of the Slider is solid, which isn't always a given with tablets of any type. Like the Transformer, this also extends to the inclusion of ports for USB and HDMI output. The The 16GB version has an RRP of $649 and the 32GB version comes in at $749, but it's expandable via microSD.
The general responsiveness of the Slider when running apps is also solid, but you'd expect that from a dual core Tegra 1GHz processor. It's Honeycomb right now, but should be a prime candidate for Ice Cream Sandwich down the track.
The front panel is gorilla glass, and can withstand a fierce attack from the sharp side of a USB drive. Trust me; I tried, although I'm not entirely sure why I tried quite so hard. The good part here is that you should be able to drop the Eee Slider into your bag and not really worry about anything else in there damaging it.
Battery life is fair but not great. There's an obvious comparison point here with Asus' own Eee Transformer, which adds battery life when you dock it to the keyboard. The Slider doesn't do that, but the eight hour battery — which realistically lasts around six in real world use — should be enough for daily intermittent use with no problems.
What we don't like
All the good things that the Eee Slider brings to the table? Undone almost entirely by an insanely frustrating keyboard. It's a problem on multiple counts. First and foremost, the fat lip that surrounds the keyboard assembly is almost as high as the keys, and this makes them harder to hit; this is especially true of the bottom row, where the space bar is.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go off and scream obscenities at a wall for a little while.
Right, all done. I feel better now. The reason that was necessary was simply because I'm typing this review on the Eee Slider's keyboard, which means it's taken me about three times as long as it should have and been about twice as painful. Not only does the lip impede typing a little, but it's also somewhat unresponsive, meaning you may have to type words mulitple times in order to get them right. If you're a notably slow typist this may not be as much of a problem, but anyone used to typing at speed will stumble hard on the Slider's keyboard.
That's my key criticism of the Eee Slider, but it's enough to (sadly) condemn it. The sliding keyboard is the key selling point of the Eee Slider, and it sadly just isn't very good.
There's a potential bright future for an Eee Slider; aside from the keyboard the rest of the hardware is quite good. Asus would only need to tweak the design a little and they'd have a winner on their hands. As it is, what's left is distinctly only fodder for the bargain bin.