The Asus Eee Pad Slider and Eee Pad Transformer were two of the standout products on show at last year’s Mobile World Congress. See also: New iPad review.

While a commercial version of that Transformer prototype went onsale as early as June 2011 and quickly garnered industry accolades, the Slider hove into view only in late autumn of last year. 

And even then, it is not widely available in this country. We'v only seen it on sale through a few smaller online retailers.

Since its eventual launch, Asus has now announced a second version of the Transformer, known as the Prime. But there’s still a lot to recommend the Slider, not least the fact that it doesn’t come ‘locked’ (as the Prime is), which prevent users from installing their choice of Android upgrades.

Look and feel

Looks-wise, the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 is attractive when viewed front on, with a gently bowed edging delineated with a smart silver bezel. It’s actually quite chunky, though, to accomodate a full Qwerty keyboard under the screen. The rear has small pads to prevent slippage and four very slightly raised feet that prevent the smart brown livery from getting marked. 

The display itself is a 10.1in multitouch IPS panel, 1280x800-pixel. The usual shine issues apply, but we found the screen responsive and colours well reproduced.

Setting up the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 involves either logging into or creating a new Google account. We slid out the physical keyboard to enter these details, but found the device doesn't immediately recognise its orientation, even though the screen can only be raised in one direction. It turns out this is a general issue with this tablet. It simply takes a while to recognise the change of orientation. We've clearly been spoiled by other tablets that are quicker to respond. 

Asus offers a couple of features beyond the standard Honeycomb interface. The first is Eee Cloud, a web-based storage and backup system that claims to synchronise your tablet's content with a Windows PC or Mac. Despite the exhortion to download the software from asus.com/support, we were unable to find the relevant tool to share content between our MacBook Air and the Slider. 

It's a different matter with Windows, although to download the software does require Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The document syncing aspect works by scanning for available Windows PCs or other devices through Splashtop Remote app. This initiates a remote access pairing, allowing you to get at music, photos and documents stored within Wi-Fi range.

Create an Asus @vibe email account and, once connected to the server, you can tune in to the likes of Radio Caroline via the web radio or music. Audio is plenty loud enough for personal listening and the output from the small speakers sited midway up on the back are very listenable, though lacking mid depth and a little thin. The sound becomes more muffled when the screen is docked over the keyboard and the speakers are blocked.

Controls

A narrow volume rocker on the left edge of the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 tablet sits dangerously close to the power button. More than once, we accidentally initiated a power off when tweaking volume. Thankfully, we found our text documents and emails had autosaved.  

The email app offers no particular advantage over any other webmail service (in contrast to the Sony Tablet P with its infinite scroll, or HTC's dual-pane message displays).

Typing using the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101's keyboard is much faster than the software equivalent. It came as a mild surprise that the keyboard isn't revealed by a push-to-slide mechanism but by prising the screen apart on the farthest edge. The sliding action is smooth and a clever hinge keeps the screen upright as you type. Importantly, the tablet remains well balanced even with the screen up. 

We've certainly used much poorer keyboards on netbooks, but after tapping out a 1000-word review on the Slider's, we were thoroughly fed up of the Page Up key immediately to the right of the Shift button and were feeling the effects of typing on a too-small keyboard and the resulting inaccurate keystrokes. 

Yet the fact we even contemplated such work on a tablet proves Asus' point: a keyboard is a useful addition to a tablet. At £400 for the 16GB model, we didn't feel it too expensive either. At under 1kg and 19mm thick, the Slider is a modestly proportioned travelling companion.

In general use, the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 ticks the boxes for speediness, battery life and web browsing that we'd expect from an nVidia Tegra 2 tablet. 

Not everything is well executed. Asus doesn’t appear to have a UK version of the Slider, and the keyboard is set up for US users. There’s no £ key and the @ button isn’t mapped correctly between the hardware and the OS. 

On the other hand,the preinstalled Polaris Office and a likable Supernote application allow for document creation and editing. A spellcheker for the latter would have been welcome.

Photos can be taken with the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 closed. Holding up the tablet to take a shot feels unnatural, but the image stabiliser does a decent job and we weren't too disappointed with the close-up photos we took, given the absence of flash and the slow operation of the camera. 

We can't see ourselves using the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 for taking photos, but they display relatively well on the Slider’s colourful IPS screen. There’s no option for recording video.


Tablets can be great companions for lots of things, but if you want to use one for work, you'll probably need a case that props up the screen on an angle, plus an external keyboard for efficient typing. The Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 eliminates the need for both of those accessories, while retaining the portability that tablet buyers crave. The Slider is notable for its sturdily hinged slide-out keyboard.

Editor's note: Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 UK launch date. The Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 was originally due to launch in the UK during August 2011 - prior to launch in the US. We're now at the end of September and the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 is available in the States, so it should be available in the UK soon. It should be priced at around €479 for the 16GB device, and €599 for the 32GB model.

The innovation in the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 comes at the cost of increased thickness and weight, however. At a time when many tablets are becoming thinner, the 10.1-inch Eee Pad Slider checks in at 273x180.3x17.3mm. It's more than double the thickness of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Likewise, the Slider weighs 960g, versus 559g for the Galaxy Tab 10.1. But the trade-off is worth making if you value productivity and efficiency.

See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?

In landscape mode, a small lip along the top of the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101, just above the front-facing camera, provides a grab space to catch the top half of the tablet; pulling it up and out reveals the keyboard beneath. The design is very effective. I found the tilt angle of the display appropriate both for typing and for reaching up to use my fingers for navigation - a necessity because the keyboard lacks a built-in pointing device.

The small keyboard reminds me of some external Bluetooth keyboards. Its Back and Enter keys are comfortably large, however, and the island-style keys were easy to type on. I also appreciated the keyboard's four Android keys for Home, Back, Menu, and Search. My small, touch-typist fingers flew over the keyboard with only one recurring difficulty: The space bar is recessed too low beneath the outside lip, and as a result my thumb continually banged into the lip, instead of striking the space bar. But I have no doubt that this setup will improve anyone's tablet productivity. The best part is that it does so without requiring the user to lug around extra attachments.

The keyboard design relies on a hinge mechanism that felt sturdy in my tests. I frequently hoisted the tablet by its screen, while the keyboard was out, and could detect no flex or other indication that I was stressing the design. And though the hinge's performance may degrade over time, Asus reports that the hinge mechanism was tested to pass a total of 30,000 "swing counts," meaning that a user would have to open and close the tablet 20 times a day for more than four years before the hinge might approach the spec limits.

I liked grabbing the tablet by the base, just behind the tilted screen, when it was open. And in that state, the gap enabled me to hold the tablet in one hand and type with the other. I could see this being an invaluable tool to users who want to type fast on-the-fly, but need extremely care-free portability, such as while on sales calls or at a trade show.

See also: Group test: what's the best Android tablet?

Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101: Inside the Slider

The Eee Pad Slider comes in two colours - pearl white and metallic brown - with a smooth, rubberized back. Its vertical and horizontal dimensions are bigger than most tablets', at 10.75 by 7.1 inches. When closed, the tablet's chief attraction is its 1280-by-800-pixel IPS display, with an unusually large bezel on the left and right sides (in landscape mode). The display looked sharp and vibrant for images, but text wasn't as crisp as I would have liked; I could see the dots, as I've come to expect from Android displays of this size and resolution. I also found the display glary at times, no doubt due in part to the visible air gap between the glass and LCD beneath.

The range of acceptable viewing angles is wide, as you'd expect from an IPS display, but it didn't quite live up to its 178 degree billing in my hands-on testing. Still, it's more than adequate for several folks to crowd around for a presentation, for example. And because the display is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass, you don't need to encumber the tablet with a case.

The Eee Pad Slider contains a typical 2011 Android component set: a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2, 1GB of RAM, Android 3.2, and either 16GB or 32GB of memory.

All of the Slider's ports and buttons are situated on the lower slice, with the keyboard portion of the design. When the tablet is closed, the power button on the top left is easy to find; but I got frustrated by its location and poor physical definition when using the tablet with the keyboard open and in landscape mode. Next to the power button are a volume rocker and a tiny, hard-to-press reset button. A MicroSD card slot appears in the far corner.

Up top are the mini-HDMI port and the connector port for charging the tablet and syncing data, and at the right rear are the headphone jack (which doubles as an external microphone input) and a USB port (which will work for input devices such as a mouse, and for flash devices such as memory drives). The front-facing camera is a 1.2-megapixel unit, while the rear-facing camera resolves to 5.0 megapixels.

The tablet packs a number of sensors, including G-sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, e-compass, and GPS. And like its sibling, the Eee Pad Transformer, the Eee Pad Slider comes packed with a slew of software apps, many direct from Asus. Among them: Asus Launcher; Asus Sync; File Manager; Kindle Books; MyCloud, for use with one year of free Asus WebStorage; MyLibrary; MyNet; Polaris Office; PressReader; and Zinio Magazine.

Asus includes its MyWater wallpaper, which uses water level as a metaphor for remaining battery life. Asus expects the Slider to get 8.2 hours of battery life on a single charge. Our tests are pending, but the Slider has already impressed us with its excellent standby time. I left the tablet with Wi-Fi on but unused for several days, came back, and still found the tablet's MyWater level at 66 percent.

PCWorld Verdict

As cool and innovative as the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 is, this tablet probably isn't for you if your tastes run to svelte and stylish, or if you want to use it your tablet as an e-reader (960g is way too heavy for that). But if you value portability and productivity in an Android tablet, the Eee Pad Slider could be a great companion.

Melissa J Perenson

Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101: Specs

  • Android 3.1
  • 10.1in LED Backlight WXGA (1280x800) Screen
  • 10 finger multi-touch support, Scratch resistant glass
  • CPU: NVIDIA Tegra 2
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Storage: 16GB/32GB
  • Unlimited ASUS Web Storage
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g/n @2.4GHz
  • Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
  • 1.2Mp Front Camera, 5Mp Rear Camera
  • High Quality Speaker
  • Supreme SRS Sound
  • High Quality Mic
  • USB 2.0, Mini HDMI, Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-In), Card Reader: Micro SD
  • G-Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • E-Compass
  • GPS
  • Multi-Task Support
  • Flash Support
  • Software
  • ASUS Launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, Kindle books, Zinio Magazine, PressReader, Polaris Office, ASUS sync
  • 25Wh Li-Polymer Battery
  • 273x180.3x17.3mm
  • 960g
  • Android 3.1
  • 10.1in LED Backlight WXGA (1280x800) Screen
  • 10 finger multi-touch support, Scratch resistant glass
  • CPU: NVIDIA Tegra 2
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Storage: 16GB/32GB
  • Unlimited ASUS Web Storage
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g/n @2.4GHz
  • Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
  • 1.2Mp Front Camera, 5Mp Rear Camera
  • High Quality Speaker
  • Supreme SRS Sound
  • High Quality Mic
  • USB 2.0, Mini HDMI, Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-In), Card Reader: Micro SD
  • G-Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • E-Compass
  • GPS
  • Multi-Task Support
  • Flash Support
  • Software
  • ASUS Launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, Kindle books, Zinio Magazine, PressReader, Polaris Office, ASUS sync
  • 25Wh Li-Polymer Battery
  • 273x180.3x17.3mm
  • 960g

OUR VERDICT

The Asus Slider SL101 is a very likable Android Honeycomb tablet that deftly manages to be both tablet and proper laptop without compromising excessively in the process. The 17mm bulk is easily forgivable given the advantages a hardware keyboard brings, and even this doesn’t detract from its smart styling or above Android-average operation.

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