01.Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101
Price: 16GB $649; 32GB $749
If you’re keen on an Android tablet but can’t do without a physical keyboard all the time, the Asus Eee Pad Slider is for you.
Unlike its sibling, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the Slider’s keyboard remains attached at all times, lifting up and sliding back into a 45-degree position to reveal the keyboard – though this is not the smooth, one-handed operation you’d expect.
The downside of the always-attached keyboard is the extra thickness it adds to the tablet, which is 17.3mm thick and 960g, compared to the Transformer’s 13mm thick and 680g and the wi-fi-only iPad’s 8.8mm and 601g.
The Slider doesn’t have the Transformer’s touchpad or built-in extra battery, but Asus claims up to eight hours battery life, which is fairly standard for a tablet. It has a good share of connections, including USB 2.0 connector for attaching extra devices such as storage or pointing device, Micro-SD Card reader and Mini HDMI port.
As the keyboard folds under the 10.1” screen (1280x800 resolution) there’s no screen cover, but the amazingly tough Gorilla Glass should protect it from anything but a decent impact. The Slider includes cameras at front (1.2Mp) and rear (5Mp).
Our review model came with the Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) OS but can be upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). To customise the Android OS, Asus has included its Waveshare interface. This adds a file manager, a MyCloud storage app, a MyLibrary books app and a MyNet app for streaming multimedia content via DLNA. The MyCloud app offers one year of unlimited cloud storage and Polaris Office suite covers general productivity needs.
We tested the Slider with Skype and found it consistently better for video and audio than the Sony Tablet S and Lenovo IdeaPad K1 and on par with standalone webcams we’ve tested.
While the biggest selling point of the Slider design is the always-there physical keyboard, it’s also its biggest downfall. It’s a bit smaller top-to-bottom than the Transformer
and feels a bit cramped for fast typing. Also, the small lip surrounding the keyboard is almost the height of the keys, making them harder to hit reliably. The Slider is worth considering, but with specs like these, so is a netbook
For more information about tablets, see our Mobile computers section.