Asus Eee Pad Slider

The Eee Pad Slider is one of the growing mountain of Android tablets seeking (and generally failing) to challenge the iPad. But don’t write it off immediately, because it has a secret weapon hidden under its gloss black display: a five-row keyboard.

One of the biggest complaints from potential tablet owners is the lack of easy data input. The answer to that complaint is generally two-fold — firstly, tablets are designed as consumption, not creation, devices. Plus, if it’s a real deal-breaker for you, then it’s easy enough to pick up a small Bluetooth keyboard.

But Bluetooth is a hassle, and there are plenty of occasions when you might want to tap out a medium-length email reply without having to resort to a rubbish on-screen keyboard. So Asus has built a compromise device — one that functions perfectly well as a pure tablet, but which conceals a keyboard for those occasions when you do want to write something more than a couple of lines.

Most compromises don’t work out well for either side, but the Eee Pad Slider is a notable exception. Pulling at the top of the screen slides it up at a 40-degree angle, revealing the keyboard underneath. The sliding action is a little tricky at first, but there’s a knack to it and before too long its second nature.

The Slider’s keyboard isn’t too tricky to use, despite being rather smaller than a regular one. It’s definitely possible to touch-type on, with only minor adjustments, and the key travel distance is about right. It has dedicated buttons for Android’s Home, Back, Menu and Search functions, and you can also adjust the screen brightness and turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off with keyboard shortcuts.

Clear screen

The screen above the keyboard is clear and bright, with excellent viewing angles and good colour reproduction. There’s a big ol’ bezel around the sides, possibly so that the keyboard could fit beneath, but the only real complaint here is that it’s extremely glossy, so it’s difficult to read in bright places and picks up fingerprints faster than a police forensics unit.

What’s great is using the touchscreen and the keyboard in tandem. Browsing the web with your hands feels natural and intuitive — far more so than using a mouse — and then having the option to switch to the keyboard when you want to type something is very liberating. Like all the best technology, it gives you the best tools for the job and then gets out-of-the-way.

Size and power

The trade-off, of course, is in its bulk. The Eee Pad Slider weighs 886g — rather more than most of its competitors, and uncomfortable to hold in one hand for too long. It’s also a little thick — measuring 17.7mm front-to-back, which is more than twice that of the 8.8mm-thick iPad 2. Still, for many people that increased heft will be more than worth it for the benefits it brings.

Inside, a 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor yields excellent performance up to and including playback of 720p video. It struggles with 1080p, but unless you’re using the included mini-HDMI port, that’s not going to be a problem in terms of graphical fidelity. Swiping between screens is smooth and lag-free, 3D games play with no noticable stuttering, and the browser in particular performs excellently, even when multiple tabs are open.

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Author Retired

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