Asus Eee Slate EP121 – Latest Take On Oft-Maligned Windows Tablet

Laptops — on June 16, 2011 at 12:04 am | Comment Now

First Appearance:

There hasn’t been many of the Windows touch-screen laptop that hasn’t made us run back to the more conventional clamshell laptop, but thankfully, that is not the case with the Asus Eee Slate EP121. This all new Windows touch-screen tablet stretches its boundaries and re-introduces what we can expect from a Win 7. And it does that with the help of a high-design, high-powered machine thanks to the fast Intel Core i5 processor of the Asus Eee Slate EP121 and separate Bluetooth keyboard.

Finally, the Asus Eee Slate EP121 differentiates itself from most of the other Windows tablets that we’ve been seeing in the recent past. The latest that we reviewed was the Acer Iconia Tab W500P, and even that was no match for the system. Windows tablets have mostly underperformed in comparison to the more powerful Windows laptops and even in comparison to other tablets like Apple’s fashionable iPad.

Design:

The overall construction of the Asus Eee Slate EP121 was solid and nicely constructed, thanks to the thin metal bezel and the edge-to-edge glass of the system. The rear end of the laptop is white textured plastic, but the problem here is that the EP121 weighs only around 2.5 pounds, that makes it feel rather light in hand. There’s a strong chance that almost all the Windows tablet that we’ve reviewed looks and feels the same, but still the EP121 is good bit lighter.

The top edge of the system houses a switch for locking the screen rotations, just as with every Windows tablet, the screen rotation of the system is awfully slow and occasionally too sensitive and in addition the system also comes with a quick-launch button to bring up the en suite Windows 7 onscreen keyboard. The Asus Eee Slate EP121 also comes with a hidden pocket which stores equipments such as the included stylus that is pressure-sensitive, which is feature which only will be useful with the affirmed painting programs, for example the built-in ArtRage Studio. The left edge of the system houses most of the connections and ports for the tablet and a volume rocker switch.

One good thing about the Asus Eee Slate EP121 is that, using onscreen keyboard is a lot easier than how it was on other tablets that we reviewed, and that easily could be because of the huge screen size. But still not many of the people will be using it as an input method. In its place most of the users will love to use the bundled Bluetooth keyboard, which has been designed to match the somewhat curved shape of the EP121. the keyboard with the system worked just fine, but still we would have appreciated it even more had there been a small touch pad or we even would have been happy with a ThinkPad-style track point. But instead the only cursor input option here is a fingertip, a Bluetooth or USB mouse and the included stylus.

The actual offender here is Windows 7, which has not been developed to support the finger input. Microsoft also has hinted that Windows 8 will be a lot more tablet friendly, but we also have heard the same claims regarding Windows 7.

Contradicting with the Acer W500P tablet that has most of its ports on the keyboard dock, the Asus Eee Slate EP121 comes with most of its connections on the tablet body itself. The two USB ports for the system have been concealed behind the hard-to-open plastic tabs down the left edge, together with an audio jack, a Mini-HDMI jack, a volume rocker switch and an SD card slot.

Tech Spec:

Price$1,099
Processor1.3GHz Intel Core i5-470UM
Weight / with AC adapter2.6 lbs/4.2 lbs (with AC and keyboard)
Memory4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3
Screen size (diagonally)12.1 in
Hard drive64GB SSD
ChipsetIntel HM67
Dimensions (W x D x H)12.3 inches x 8.2 inches x 0.7 inches
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Optical driveNone
VideoMini-HDMI
AudioHeadphone jack/Combo mic

Performance:

The Asus Eee Slate EP121 is powered by a Core i5-U470M CPU, which delivered respectable performance for the PC and were more than happy to see that the system smoothly streamed the 720p online videos. Now, this is something that Intel Atom Netbooks have seriously struggled with. Using the current generation Core i5 processor of Intel would also have improved the integrated graphics of the system, which also would have allowed some basic 3D gaming.

The most important thing for a tablet is battery life, and the simple reason for that is the fact that it hardly will be used when it’s plugged. As far as the Windows tablets are concerned we have seen some stunners and some real disappointments. The Asus EP121, that we are talking about delivered battery life of 3 hrs and 33 mins in our battery draining test featuring video playback. While it might seem decent, we think that’s a bit low for a 12 inch laptop of any type, and the system even fades in comparison with the iPad, which is completely different type of tablet, but now has set a completely new benchmark for battery life of tablets.

Support:

The Asus Eee Slate EP121 comes with one year of complete mail in warranty from Asus. But if you are looking for support on the Asus’ website it could be a tad cumbersome. Asus also offers a toll-free 24 x 7 telephonic support at 1-888-678-3688.

Verdict:

Asus Eee Slate EP121 is Asus’ fresh take on the frequently-badmouthed Windows tablet. The tablet comes with its very own Bluetooth keyboard.


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