Asus Eee Slate EP121 review
12.1 in 1,280x800 display, 1.6kg, 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-470UM, 4.00GB RAM, 64GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Take one look at the Eee Slate and it’s clear to see that Asus has produced something rather special; with sharp lines, plenty of brushed metal and a textured finish, it’s a great looking tablet. A huge 12.1in widescreen display also makes it something of a behemoth, but that extra room has been filled with some powerful internal components.
Instead of using a low-power Intel Atom or AMD Fusion processor, the Slate is powered by a much faster Core i5-470UM. This dual-core chip runs at 1.3GHz and made Windows 7 Home Premium feel very responsive, even with several programs open at once. The 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium uses all 4GB of the fitted RAM, so it didn’t struggle when running multiple browser tabs. With an overall score of 29 in our multimedia benchmarks, the Slate was around three times faster than a netbook or low-power tablet.
The 1,280x800 display resolution looks sharp and is large enough to watch native 720p video or browse the web with minimal horizontal scrolling. High Definition playback was impressively smooth thanks to Intel’s integrated graphics, which can also output to an external display using the mini-HDMI port. Unsurprisingly it isn’t capable of playing modern games, scraping a lowly 7.6fps in our Call of Duty 4 test. A pair of in-built speakers tick a box, but aren’t particularly loud and audio quality was unsurprisingly muted.
Using the Slate, it was immediately obvious that Asus understands Windows isn’t the ideal operating system for a touchscreen device. The single hardware button on the front of the device sensibly defaults to the alt-tab keyboard shortcut, which makes switching between programs much quicker than using the touchscreen. Another useful addition is a hardware button to toggle the on-screen keyboard. This was quicker than dragging it into place by hand, but typing still felt slow and cumbersome, even on the large multi-point capacitive display. Thankfully Asus bundles a Bluetooth keyboard with the Slate, so you can type as you would on a regular laptop if you need to. It has a slightly curved layout which can take a short while to get used to, but it’s still far easier than using the tablet itself.