Android tab with pop-out keyboard? WTF?
The Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 is made of two separate sections, with the screen on top and the keyboard underneath. This makes it somewhat bulkier and heavier than keyboard-free devices: it measures 273mm wide by 180.3mm deep by 17.3mm thick and weighs 960g. The Slider feels rather clunky when used in tablet mode, and we didn’t feel like holding it in one hand for extended periods the way we might hold other, lighter, devices.
The neat hinge arrangement prevents toppling when the touchscreen is used
The Asus Transformer’s excellent 10.1in 1280 x 800 IPS screen has been carried over to the Slider so you get the same robust viewing angles. This is arguably more important on the Slider, since it will spend much of its time in a fixed position on a desk rather than in-hand.
Take a quick shufti around the edges and you will find a full-sized USB 2.0 port, mini HDMI and 3.5mm audio sockets, a micro SD card slot and a docking connector that does duty for both charging and syncing
Keyboard / Features
The chiclet keyboard is a mixed bag. The keys themselves a bit lifeless to the touch and have a rather shallow action. And there’s no back light either. That said, any keyboard is better than tap-tapping away on a screen and after a few moments spent getting used to it, you’ll be typing up a storm.
The keyboard is also home to some handy one-hit shortcut keys that take you directly to the homescreen, back a step and open a search box as well as function commands to activate the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios and change the screen brightness.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice there is no trackpad nor Lenovo-style navigation nipple but that’s really no loss when you can still use the veryfluid touchscreen UI to navigate your way around or, if you prefer, a USB mouse.
All this fancy hinge-action naturally has an impact on size and weight. Height and width don’t suffer but at 17.3mm thick the Slider is a bit of a porker. It’s not exactly light either at 960g so holding it one-handed while reading a book can be a strain.
The Eee Pad Slider SL101 runs on a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor supported by 1GB of RAM. Our review sample was running Android 3.2, and Asus says it’s upgradeable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). There are two versions, with 16GB and 32GB of internal storage , and this can be augmented with microSD cards and USB sticks.
There’s no integrated mobile broadband, but Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) are both present.
There is a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel camera on the rear. The main camera lacks a flash, but its lens is very slightly recessed, which should afford it some protection from scratching.
With the Slider SL101 in landscape mode, the short left edge houses a microphone, the power button, a volume rocker and a microSD card slot. The volume rocker is a little awkward to access when the keyboard is open as the side edges curve very slightly inwards. We’d have preferred volume controls on the keyboard itself. The left edge also houses a reset button.
Meanwhile the right edge houses a microphone/headphone combo jack and a USB port that can cope with external devices like keyboards, mice and USB sticks.
The top edge houses a mini-HDMI port (Asus does not provide a cable) and the power connector — a proprietary type whose cable has USB at the other end. This can also be used for PC connection and data transfer.
Probably the most useful of the third-party applications provided by Asus is Polaris Office, which allows you to create Microsoft Office-compatible documents, spreadsheets and presentations. It’s very well featured, and easily good enough for writing work documents to fire off as email attachments, or copy to a PC for subsequent tweaking and editing.
The Kindle e-book reader app is preinstalled, along with a file manager, the Layar augmented reality browser, Zinio for reading magazines and PressReader for newspapers. MyLibrary brings all reading matter downloads into one location. Meanwhile, MyNet brings DLNA-based media streaming to the device. Finally, there’s a cloud-based service offering a year’s unlimited storage for free.
There a speaker with SRS sound which Acer rather talks up at its web site but which we found to be somewhat lacklustre in both quality and volume. GPS is present, allowing the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 to perform a navigation function, and of course Google Maps is built in.
Quick Video Review
Though thicker and heavier than the fondleslab-norm the Slider makes a lot of sense if you intend to do any serious typing or are always looking for a way to prop your tablet up while watching a video, making a Skype video call or reading a book. It’s a bit of shame it has taken so long to make it to the UK market and that it’s rather expensive but it still makes sense for anyone who wants an Android tablet for productivity as much as fun.