ASUS Eee Slate EP121 Windows 7 Tablet Review
ASUS Eee Slate EP121 Strengths
- The ASUS Eee Slate EP121 has an excellent build quality and still relatively stylish despite being a large slate.
- Extremely powerful processor with the option to have 4GB RAM (lower cost option gives you 2GB RAM). Other Windows tablets only give you an option to have 2GB RAM (HP Slate 500, bModo12G) and 4GB will mean a much nippier performance as it’s comparable to decent specification laptops. 2GB of RAM is fine but does mean that you get slight lags as the software is designed for desktop PCs so needs a decent level of power. The apps you utilise on an iPad or Android tablets are designed to be lighter and simple applications so the processor isn’t required to work as hard.
- The processor reacts quickly to taps and swipes of the screen, loads apps quickly, provides a speedy web browsing experience and can cope with playing high-definition video.
- Large responsive multi-touch capacitive screen – 12.1-inches in comparison to an iPad at 9.7-inches. The extra screen is useful when running Windows as icons, menus, links and buttons in software are designed for clicking with a mouse as it’s principally designed for desktop PCs. A smaller screen would make them much harder to hit with a finger. The converse of this is that you loose some mobility as it’s a very large slate PC and so heavier and bulkier to carry around.
- The screen is responsive and supports finger gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. It’s vibrant, sharp (although with a modest resolution given the size – 1280 by 800 pixels) and has decent viewing angles so little contrast is lost when you view it from an angle.
- Active digitiser stylus included for writing directly on the screen. It will then snap your handwriting to text so giving you an alternative to tapping a virtual on-screen keyboard when you want to enter text or data.
- Runs the full Windows 7 Home Premium operating system which means if you’re already familiar with Windows, you know immediately how to find your way round. It also gives you compatibility with any software you have on your desktop or any Windows applications you want to download from the web. This would include common Windows applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. You would need to purchase these separately as the Eee Slate only ships with a cut down version.
- There are millions of applications for Windows so you’re not restricted to an app store, you can download anything you want and have complete freedom with what you put on your tablet PC.
- As it’s a Windows 7 tablet you have access to the web browser of your choice and the Internet surfing performance is quick.
- Fully compatible with Flash technology used on the Web which means you can download Flash videos such as those on the BBC website, play Flash games, and view Flash animations. The powerful processor means it will happily display these just as well as your desktop or laptop PC would.
- High-definition videos will play on YouTube and you can connect the ASUS Eee Slate to your high-definition TV via a HDMI cable as the Eee Slate comes with a miniHDMI port. This means you can watch what’s on your tablet PC screen on your large screen television – including the high-definition video.
- The ASUS Eee Slate boots up in under 15 seconds – very fast for a Windows tablet. Windows tablets run a full operating system so will usually need a substantial time between turning the tablet on and being able to use it. The iPad/Android tablets give you a near instant-on experience, Windows generally takes around a minute to load and initiate ports etc. This isn’t the case with the Eee Slate and is the difference between being able to quickly jump on the tablet to look something up on the Internet and being put off bothering to do so as the boot-up takes time.
- 2 USB ports offer flexibility to add USB enabled devices such as a keyboard, mouse or other USB peripheral. You can use your USB memory stick to take files on and off the tablet too.
- The ASUS Eee Slate EP121 ships with 64GB of internal memory for storing files such as documents, music and video. That’s at the top end of current tablet PC memory storage and plenty of room for a mobile device. There is also an SD card slot so you can buy an SD card and increase the memory further. SD cards are often used as the memory cards in digital cameras also so if you have a camera with an SD card then you can slot it in to the slate and upload photos directly to the tablet for viewing and editing. You also have the option to use an external hard drive that plugs into a USB port.
- The Eee Slate only offers Wi-Fi connectivity to get online so if you’re outside of a Wi-Fi signal then you’ll need a USB 3G dongle or a MiFi device to connect to the mobile/cellular data network.
- 2 megapixel WebCam gives the option to load Skype or other video chat software and set-up video calls via your tablet. Stereo speakers so great for listening to music of playing the audio of the movie you’re watching.
- Huge range of software available for Windows and the Slate EP121 has got particularly good feedback from designers and artists who use it for drawing applications. If you want to read eBooks you can download the free Kindle app.
- Ships with a Bluetooth Keyboard and this makes typing a lot easier
- Digitiser pen/stylus also included which tucks away in a compartment on the slate.
- A folio case is included that doubles up as a stand.
ASUS Eee Slate EP121 Weaknesses
- Very heavy for a tablet at 1.16kg (2.6lbs) due to large screen size format and high-specification components. This makes it less mobile for using out-and-about or carrying on a trip. If you’re comparing it to a netbook though this is still light. If you’re comparing it to other tablets then it’s heavy to hold in a hand and is more designed to rest on a lap or a table.
- Unlike Android Honeycomb or iOS operating systems, Windows 7 Home Premium isn’t optimised for a tablet PC experience. There are touchscreen features but principally it’s a desktop/laptop operating system. The impact of this on the ASUS Eee Pad Slate experience is that it lacks the intuitive nature of the other tablet operating systems. It’s easy to hit the wrong menu choice or button when you’re navigating with a finger. You do gradually get used to this but it’s more you adapting to fit the operating system rather than it working immediately. As mentioned in previous Windows reviews, the active digitizer pen does massively improve this and it’s good that ASUS include this as part of the package.
- ASUS include a Bluetooth keyboard and this also improves the experience as the Windows virtual keyboard is not as good as other optimised on-screen keyboards and so you find it slow to use. The virtual keyboard is fine for short emails but the keyboard is much better for writing longer documents.
- Windows may have millions of applications available but virtually none of them are optimised for a tablet PC touch experience. Navigating software designed to be used with a mouse is fiddly – particularly handing menus. The digitizer should help this as it gives you more accuracy than a finger tip but it’s not as intuitive as applications that are specifically designed for this format.
- Although you have complete control over what you put on a Windows tablet, this also means you’ll need virus software and a firewall to prevent malicious attacks to the operating system. It’s another expense and running an additional application also takes up valuable processing power – and that can slow the performance of a tablet.
- As with most Windows tablet PCs, the battery life is short. The Eee Slate is running a full operating system so this drains the battery – ASUS claim you’ll get 4.5 hours of general use on a single charge. If you’re running heavy tasks such as watching videos on a high brightness setting then it runs down within 3-3.5 hours. This is a frequent trade-off with the current crop of Windows 7 tablet PCs. You should note also that there isn’t the option to switch a charge battery into the tablet as it’s sealed so you either need an external battery pack or a mains power socket to get it going again.
- Price – the Eee Slate is expensive but this is because you’re paying for a very high specification with the portability and function of a tablet PC.
Tablet Review – ASUS Eee Slate EP121
Windows 7 on tablet PCs is an acquired taste but some users need access to full Windows applications and if you’re one of them then the Eee Slate is definitely one to consider. If you need to run Windows software then Android tablets and the iPad are only capable of running lighter versions of office applications and this may not be enough.
The ASUS Eee Slate EP121 shouldn’t be compared to an iPad or Android tablet – it’s a very capable Windows 7 tablet. It’s the most expensive tablet PC we’ve reviewed but this is somewhat justified as it also is the best at handling Windows of the tablet PCs. It possesses a very high spec including the powerful processor, large storage memory and excellent display. The size and weight make it less mobile than an iPad but certainly a lighter alternative to a hybrid tablet/netbook or laptop for carrying around when you’re on the road.
Running Windows also gives you flexibility to run lots of different software, play whatever video formats you like and a fantastic Flash experience. If you can live with the deficiencies of Windows on your tablet then this is the best tablet experience on offer.
Image Source: ASUS