The ASUS Eee Slate EP121 keeps you productive, entertained, and connected. Experience crisp, clear high definition entertainment on the 12.1-inch capacitive LED-backlit touchscreen display with finger or pen touch capabilities. Featuring a powerful Intel Core i5 processor and a solid state drive, experience snappy and smooth multitasking performance whether working on a PowerPoint presentation or viewing Flash content. With Windows 7 Home Premium, you can do all the same things as on your laptop or desktop with the added benefit of multi-touch and pen input. If you are at a desk, the included folio allows the EP121 to stand up and act as your display while you type on the included Bluetooth keyboard. You can also connect the EP121 to an external LED monitor via the mini HDMI port.
- 12.1-inch capacitive pressure-sensing multi touch LED-backlit HD display for brilliant HD entertainment and intuitive navigation
- Less than one inch thin and made with gorilla glass for easy portability and robust durability
- Digitizer pen with Windows 7 pen support for accurate writing and drawing accuracy
- Intel Core i5-470UM processor with Intel HD graphics for energy efficient multitasking performance and 1080p HD playback
- 32GB solid state drive for quickly storing and accessing you treasured data
- Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.2 x 0.7 inches ; 2.6 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 7 pounds
- Shipping: This item is also available for shipping to select countries outside the U.S.
- ASIN: B004HKIIF8
- Item model number: EP121-1A011M
- Date first available at Amazon.com: January 4, 2011
+ It’s like it was was made for OneNote – stylus input and handwriting recognition are incredible
+ Screen is very bright and crisp, great viewing angles
+ Touch input experience is good as well, supports pinch zoom, etc
+ Fast, responsive, boots quick, runs Win7 apps well, good experience with office suite
+ Email and Web browsing is surprisingly easy with either touch or stylus input
+ Can handle some higher end games, though not a gaming machine
= Was expecting it to be too heavy but was pleasantly surprised that is was not
= Was expecting the Win7 touch experience to be terrible, but it wasn’t bad
= Is expensive but not bad if you compare it to a laptop with a core i5 and active digitizer
- Battery life is dismal
- Password entry is not fun, wish it had a fingerprint reader
Important tip – make sure to install the optional firmware update to the digitizer from Windows Update.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for a machine like this for years to use at work. I don’t like using laptops to take notes. The flipped up screen and noise of typing is distracting to a conversation. This machine offers an experience like using pen and paper with all the advantages of electronic notes.
The combination of a good digitizer, the great handwriting recognition and palm reject of OneNote, and the general design of the tablet itself help make it the best machine I’ve seen for taking notes. The tablet is relatively heavy but still quite comfortable to hold in the palm of my hand or crook of my arm. It also rests well on a table. The stylus pops out of the tablet itself so you aren’t forced to use a case (I don’t). The tablet is quite thin and there is a solid border for gripping that keeps you from inadvertently touching the screen.
The screen itself looks really good – very bright and crisp. It will likely be the first thing you notice when you pick it up. Touch interface is also snappier than I expected, though the pinch zoom is not quite as smooth as the iPhone/iPad.
I was surprised with the email and browsing experience (use Outlook, Gmail, and Firefox). Clicking on links and small icons really isn’t as hard as I was expecting, the touch keyboard works ok, and windows picks up handwriting pretty well. You aren’t going to write a page long email easily, but there is always the ability to use a bluetooth or usb keyboard and mouse if needed.
Windows apps work fine, similar experience to a core i5 laptop. Gaming isn’t too bad. Civ5 works well enough, and I would expect most puzzle and strategy games to work. Will not do as well on games where you worry about fps. Videos look great, again much like a core i5 laptop.
Wish the battery life were better. On the highest brightness setting, I get about 3hrs. I can squeeze 4-5hrs if I lower it a bit. This means I have to charge it half way through the day, which is a pain.
Password entry is also not great. You have to use the touch keyboard, and for security reasons it doesn’t light up the keys. Makes it easy to screw up. Wish the tablet had a fingerprint reader or some other support for easier password entry.
Overall, I am very happy with this tablet. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a machine to use at work or school (or at home if you use windows apps or the office suite a lot).
I’ve been following the marketing from ASUS for this tablet, and I think they have it wrong. They’ve been comparing it to an iPad. That’d be like Toyota comparing the Prius to a sports car. It doesn’t make sense. Both the Asus Slate and iPad are fun in their own way, but serve very different purposes. Use the right tool for the task.
Good Windows 7 Tablet
What I liked:
- It’s Windows 7 so we will be able to use it in a corp environment. Clients want us to use iPads but compatibility, security, and flash support just isn’t there yet.
- It already comes with the keyboard and stand. Please factor that in with the price.
- Has bluetooth and many of the ports I expect to use.
- The screen is a nice size so you can demo applications or slide desks on it to a small group.
- The unit isn’t heavy so you can hand it around to people.
What I don’t like:
- Windows 7 touch interface isn’t as good as other touch interfaces. Hopefully this will improve over time
- The cost of the ep121 will probably make it a non-mainstream device.
- If they sold this without the keyboard, I could use one I already have and save money
- Like the other reviewer said, a finger print reader would rock.
Who should buy it:
- Those that want a tablet experience AND the ability to run windows 7 applications.
- Those that want to use a tablet in a corporate environment, as this tablet should meet security requirements.
Who shouldn’t buy it:
People that want to mostly surf the web, consume media files, play games, etc., should consider cheaper options available (ipads, android tablets, etc.).
Eee Slate vs iPad:
I wouldn’t say that these devices compete with each other. The iPad is great for consuming content while I see the Eee Slate being more of a productivity tool. Coupled with a keyboard, the Eee Slate is basically a laptop. When Asus releases some android tablets, we’ll see how well they stack up.
Amazing tablet, just learn how to use it!
The EP121 has definitely exceeded my expectations so far.
It is fast! I have tested Office 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 professional and they have worked without a hiccup.
Inking is excellent and gets better as you use it. This is the tablet to have if you want to do more than surf the web!
BTW, you have to use Onenote with this tablet.
If your into gadgets, you will feel a little tingle the 1st time you use Onenote to jot down some ideas. This is how tablets should be!
As far as video:
Flash, Youtube and Netflix all work flawlessly in HD.
I had no issues using the HDMI to hookup to my Panasonic 50″. It looked great and there was no screen clipping.
I am currently getting between 3.5 – 4.5 hours under normal use (Screen at 30%). Not great, but not bad for a tablet with these specs.
The screen is excellent, in fact at full brightness, it will burn your eyes!
Touch input is accurate and the wacom digitizer is spot on. I’m not an artist, but to me the stylus is awesome.
Since using a 12.1″ screen, I don’t know how anyone could go smaller.
Some final notes, unlike other ipad and ipad like like devices out there, this is a full featured tablet PC with all the capabilities and power of a notebook. If you don’t like something, change it. Windows 7 is fully customizable for tablet use (see below for some tips). Don’t believe the tech blogs out there panning windows for a poor touch experience. It will do whatever you want it to… And use the stylus! This, by far, is the way to go for tablet input. Trust me, once you do, you will realize that simple finger touch is not the answer for everything.
If your into games, check out Intel AppUp. They are giving away Angry Birds for free right now. It works great on the EP121.
If you create an account as a standard user, the physical buttons (keyboard button, aero flip 3d etc.) will fail to function for the standard user account. Admin accounts work fine.
Asus has an update for the ATK driver which will resolve the issue.
Just install over the current one. Note, even though this driver is dated from Feb. 2011, the tablet I ordered last week did not have the latest update.
There are also some useful settings for windows 7 which can make using your slate easier.
Sorry if you already know this, but hopefully some users find this helpful.
- You can easily change the window titlebar, border and scrollbar sizes without installing any special window
managers (like origami). Just type “window colors and metrics” in the windows 7 search box.
You’ll see a screen that you allows you to change the size of various window attributes.
I especially found that making the window border, and scrollbar slightliy wider made it much easer to use
touch. Changing the Window titlebar size also makes the minimize/maximize and Close buttons larger.
- Learn Windows 7 “flicks”, they are definately a great addition for touch controls.
- I also noticed that the on screen keyboard would “change” slightly when typing in password fields. For example,
the OSK no longer had auto-complete and also wasn’t highlighting the keys I pressed. A little searching, and I
found out it is on purpose for security reasons (You don’t want someone looking over your shoulder see you type
your password). Well, its easy to change, just go into the OSK options and the help will let you know what the
different security settings do.
Amazing Windows 7 based tablet.
+ Price includes Bluetooth KeyBoard and a folio as well. $100 value at Apple rates. Doesn’t come with a docking option.
+ Comes with a digitizer Pen, which is very useful for hand written notes and also helps overcome some of the UI related issues with Win 7 (tiny icons, etc.)
+ The boot time on this system (Press the power button –> desktop is usable) is awesome: 18-19 sec (no initial POST Messages). That is faster than iPad shutdown –> desktop.
+ Media Playback is excellent whether it is H.264 or VC1 content. And the CPU does it so easily
+ Thermal: Excellent. After hours of use (media playback, streaming, etc), the bottom surface is pretty normal temperature. Absolutely no heat. Vents are the top and bottom middle. Fan exists, but is very quiet. Design is good.
+ 12.1″ panel size and 1280×800 resolution are a good combination. Text on the screen looks the right size.
+ 2.5 LB: is not too heavy. A smaller size (11.6″) could have made it a little lighter.
+ With all the USB, SD, mini-HDMI, etc, it can do everything your regular laptop can do.
Well it doesn’t obviously address to Win 7 OS native issues – like hard to touch the window buttons, etc. But if one is looking for a Win 7 based tablet, this is an excellent choice. Also, Windows not having a Market Place like Android/Apple, the usage is still going to be PC type (Start –> Control Panel:)) So, if you don’t like that, this tablet will not do any magic. You may wish Microsoft does things differently in Windows 8.
Battery Life: With a 12.1″ screen size and a powerful system, you can’t expect this system to be performing like iPad. But I think it can easily do 5-6 hrs of continuous use. Check out what ASUS Claims.
Well I have run quite a whole list of benchmarks on this system, but won’t post those here. But with a 1.33Ghz Intel Dual Core CPU, this is an awesome system. A 699-799$-ish price tag would make the system a good deal. $1000 base price tag has little too much premium for portability and tablet form factor. that takes a star away of my review.
Everything I was looking for in a tablet
I purchased this item through the Microsoft store since Amazon’s pre order system was so screwed up. I paid nearly $100 more, but actually have my computer, as opposed to the poor people still playing the guessing game w/ Amazon.
The computer itself is actually really nice. The screen is bright and the resolution is about right for a display this size. Over all the computer feels big and heavy enough to rot feel like a toy, but still Small and light enough to be easily Portable. The included “leather” folio is a convenient and sharp looking way to protect the computer, and also functions as a stand for the unit. Functionally it feels like any other Windows PC, except it is definitely tuned for touch. While not as precise as Apple products, the touch interface does fairly well interpreting what you want to do. If you don’t want to use you finger the compute comes with a nice bluetooth keyboard,and my favorite feature, the stylus. Unlike other styluses the one that comes with the ep121 is robust and feels like a real pen in your hand. I’m actually using it to write this review. You have the option of typing with an on-screen keyboard, or using a handwriting recognition feature. It is much faster than typing, and generally fairly accurate, though while writing this review it has become more touchy, and is grouping words together. While the correction tools are very easy, it is still pretty annoying.
Overall I’m quite happy. Dont shop this against an iPad or other true “slate” PC. This is a full up, no kidding real computer that stands on its own, not an overgrown cell phone chained to a host computer like most tablets out there and the $1100 price reflects that.
Buy this if you want a real computer. If you’re just looking for a media toy consider saving your money and going with a mobile OS based machine. You’ll pay half the price, but at the cost of half the functionality.
Very good overall, but not quite perfect
I’ll say up front that I am very happy with nearly everything about this computer, and with that said, I’ll laundry-list some details in the form of some specific “likes” and “dislikes” – after I tell you…
What I hoped to be able to do with my EP121:
- run my favorite media player (Zoom Player) for music and video. Check!
- connect to internet both wirelessly and by wired connection. Check! (with the help of this:Cisco-Linksys USB Ethernet Adapter)
- download video and audio files via filesharing sites and torrent sites. Check!
- transfer these files to other computers and storage locations. Check! (this is difficult or impossible in “ecosystem”-based devices)
- watch Hulu, Vimeo, etc. – and be able to easily connect to view these sites on my 42″ flatscreen. Check!
- read ebooks and scanned comics / manga with color and pinch zoom / image rotation support. Check!
- engage with Facebook. Check (with reservations – see below)
- make full use of Microsoft Office 2010 programs – including inking features – primarily (so far) the following…
1 Word using ink-to-text and also annotating documents with inked text. Check!
2 PowerPoint. Hooray for being able to ink directly onto the ppt slides as I create them. I was never able to personalize my presentations like this before! Check!
3 OneNote for organizing inked notes. Check! But see dislikes below for more details on OneNote
4 Outlook. This is the big one for me. At my job, I use Outlook to view and maintain the calendars for literally dozens of supervisees and jobsites. All of this runs through an Exchange server, and I’ve never had a personal computer that runs this stuff as smoothly as the EP121. Check!
- Sync with Evernote. Check!
- Input field data directly into the troubleshooting database that we use at my job – no more scraps of paper needed. Check!
- Run Skype and AIM smoothly. Check! (very nice webcam!)
- A draw and paint program that helps me realize my creative potential. Art Rage earns the Check! for sure.
- Run audio recording software to record live music input via USB interface. Check!
For both of the above:
- Have sufficient storage space for all desired software and files. Check! thanks to a 32 GB SD card in the card slot, and a 64 GB Flash drive for larger media files and general detachable, highly portable storage. I reserve the relatively small 64 GB SSD onboard for software.
- The size and weight are really great for mobility. I take this everywhere with me for both work and play.
- Battery life has been fine for me so far. Much better than my last computer. Lasted just fine flying home from Florida to Michigan yesterday.
- Really great aftermarket / third party styli available (see elsewhere among the reviews here for more on that).
- Pressure sensitivity in Artrage is wonderful!
- Handwriting recognition is for the most part very good – especially after running the training program. I am a very poor typist, and I feel like I actually think better when I’m writing with a pen. So this is a big one for me.
- In general, I REALLY like interacting with the screen using the stylus, especially with the third party stylus that has a right-click side button and softer nib options.
- Image quality is really wonderful for everything I’ve looked at onscreen.
- Pinch zooming and rotating images works very smoothly when supported by software.
- Even lowest brightness setting is acceptable, which helps extend battery life.
- Speaker volume and sound quality are quite pleasant.
- Found a pdf reader that automatically re-opens files where I was last reading them. No offense to Amazon, but I don’t like “ecosystem” style software like the Kindle reader. I dislike iTunes also for its “ecosystem” bloat and inflexibilty. Just a personal preference. The more “proprietary” something is, the more I’m prone to dislike it.
- The biggest “like” is closely related to the above point: I am really glad to have a computer that has the form factor of a slate without forcing me to be limited by an “ecosystem” that is built around a crippled “appliance” (like an Android tablet or an iPad). Sometimes I use my Wii or DSiXL as an internet appliance, but when I want a full-scale computing experience I am very glad that I have the robust flexibility of the EP121.
- Sometimes it crashes. This is very rare. Full scale, blue-screen-of-death style crash has only happened to me once. BUT, individual applications – especially Artrage – do crash or hang sometimes. In some cases I’m sure this results from my trying to make the program do something that is too much to expect of it: perhaps piling up too many layers or running in too high of a resolution. I haven’t had any catastophic data-losses because of this, so I’m still considering it a minor annoyance.
- Sometimes the pen “disappears” for an uncomfortable few seconds. So far it always comes back.
- Sometimes the onscreen keyboard trigger button is laggy. Scares me a bit once in a while, but it always works out in the end.
- For some reason a small percentage of my postings to Facebook never seem to make it to their final destination. Never had that happen with any other computer.
- Pressing the “ink-to-text” button in OneNote always yields results that are mixed at best for a large block of inked text. Usually results are bad enough to reach for the “undo” button. Using the Text Input Panel (“TIP” as they call it on tablet discussion forums) is much more reliable, but mainly because the conversion happens on the fly, and can therefore be edited for accuracy.
- I wish there were a “trigger” – either on the edge of the housing or as a desktop radio button – to turn on and off multitouch with a single push of a physical button or tap of the stylus. When inking and drawing, I prefer to have touch turned off, and it is slightly cumbersome to do this as it is now.
- It would also be nice if there were a little snap or zip-up pouch integrated into the folio-case for things like flash drives and USB dongles.
- Technical Support from Asus is HORRIBLE (both very slow and wholly innacurate)!! If you want me to post my evidentiary email interaction with them, ask in comments…
- So you can kind of see that the pattern emerging from my “dislikes” all has to do mainly with what a new device this thing is: the bugs just aren’t quite worked out of it yet, and in a way I wouldn’t even expect tech support to know what they’re doing with it, because they’re having to learn everything right alongside users as the bugs pop up.
I use it a lot for a lot of things, and although I wish it were a 5-star computer, I just don’t think it’s quite there yet. Close, but not quite there. I got it a a gift, and could pretty easily have given it 5 stars for that reason, but I tried to make this review reflect how I’d feel if I had paid for it myself. I do really like it, and heartily recommend it for anyone with a usage-profile similar to mine.
Honestly, it really is a pretty miraculous machine.
Just don’t expect it to be without imperfections – it was made by humans, after all.
Update after almost a year owning it:
I still love it overall. I can reaffirm all the pros and cons of my original review. I really like the pen+touch interface, and now that I have climbed the learing curve it provides a very very smooth user experience. Touch by itself is insufficient for me, so I am glad that this and the Eee Note (also by Asus) exist to satisfy users like me. I got an Eee Note from an seller in Taiwan since the device is not marketed in the US, and it pairs really nicely with the EP121 to take care of all my lower- and higher- level computing needs in two very classy little packages.
On the EP121, I wish Chrome supported the touch interface, but that isn’t a deal breaker, especially since I figured out recently that Chrome processes downloads saving them directly to US flash drive or SD card, which makes things go faster than the same process in IE8, which for whatever reason first downloads to a temp file, and then copies the file out to the external memory. Big waste of time, and from what I understand the “write endurance” of an SSD is possibly less than that of an HDD – though this is only likely to matter to users who are hoping to get many more years out of single drive or device than most people care about (or to sys admins who need to construct ultra-reliable drive arrays that are moving tons of data 24/7).
Anyway, for now I go back and forth between IE8 and Chrome. I kind of hate IE9 and rolled back very quickly after I first tried it. I’ll have to bite the bullet and switch eventually. Time marches on whether I like it or not.
Where speed and reliability are concerned, every thing I can do to improve is appreciated, so I’m glad Chrome DLs directly to my chosen destination w/o any temp files to gum up the works.
Review of the Asus EP121 Slate
Although I tried to be as unbiased as possible and give my honest review, there is no such thing as unbiased. My idea of a slate/pad device is shaped by the iPAD. I have never used the iPAD for more than a few minutes and most of what I know of it is from reviews and opinions of peers.
When I arrived at my home last week, I thought that the fairly large box sitting on my kitchen floor was far too big and heavy to be the pad device I was expecting. Sure enough the 15.5″x10″x3.25″ box inside had the clear labeling of an Asus product.
The product is packaged well with the device right on top as you open the box and all of the accessories underneath it. I was a little surprised at how heavy the box and the device itself was until I found out what was contained in this relatively small package.
The slate itself is a little under 12.5 inches wide (in horizontal orientation) and 8.25 inches tall. It is less than three quarters of an inch deep. I looked up the specs to relate what I was holding to the computing power it was capable of.
The EP121 has a Intel Dual-Core i5 470um at 1.33GHz with integrated graphics. The premium model that I was testing had 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 64GB solid state drive. The screen is 12.1 inches (hence the model EP121) and is capable of 1280×800 display resolution. These hardware specs are about the same as my desktop at my work. Once I made the comparison and realized the amount of power I was holding, the unit didn’t seem quite so bulky.
The rest of the items in the box include a basic user manual, support DVD, power cord, cleaning cloth, stylus and refill nibs, tool to replace stylus nibs, a leather cover/folio and a bluetooth keyboard with a set of batteries.
When looking at the screen of the device before it’s powered on, the glossiness is almost overwhelming and if anyone has used the device before you, the screen looks like a smart phone display after having a half hour phone conversation on a humid day. If you want this thing to look nice and perform well when using your fingers, it will need to be cleaned often.
There are numerous ports and connections on the sides of the unit. On the left side from bottom to top in a horizontal orientation is a speaker, an SD card reader, USB 2.0 port, internal microphone, another USB 2.0 port, a combination mic in/headphone out audio jack, mini HDMI port, a volume up/down rocker, charging port and charging LED. The USB ports are covered by somewhat difficult to open covers; probably assuming they would not often be used.
The top side from left to right has a power button/slider and LED, a keyboard button, orientation lock switch and a slot for the Wacom Digitizer pen, also known as the stylus. By default the keyboard button is simply a shortcut to show the on-screen keyboard at any time, although there are also several ways to bring it up from the screen. The right side simply contains another speaker towards the bottom and the bottom of the device does not have any ports or connections.
The included bluetooth keyboard is quick and easy to set up and link to the device. Switch the keyboard on, which should automatically put it into discoverable mode. Double click the bluetooth icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen and click add device. Type the security password that comes up directly into the keyboard and press enter.
The Wacom Digitizer pen (referred to from now on as the “pen”) is not your ordinary pen/stylus. It actively works with the slate in multiple ways. One of the more common cons of most touch pad devices is that there is no “hover” option with the cursor, because the surface of the device will only react when touched and touching, by default, dictates an action. In the case of this pen, the slate senses its location while it is held within approximately a quarter inch of the glass. This makes it easy to hover the mouse just as if using a desktop. When using the pen, the slate is sensitive to the pressure applied. The most obvious evidence of this is when using the ArtRage program and using a pencil or shading feature. The package comes with replacement nibs which are the plastic inserts to the pen. There is also a tool to help replace the nibs.
The unit startup is very quick with the powerful processor and solid state drive, despite being a complete Windows operating system. It boots up a lot quicker even than my smart phone with a proprietary OS. The installed operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium with a couple of extra programs from Asus. The OS is of course configured exactly for this device with tablet extensions enabled and wizards galore. I knew this unit had Windows 7, but I was expecting something a little more locked down in the way of a smart phone or iPAD, but this device is as open as if installed from scratch on a full desktop computer.
Keep in mind that Asus packed a lot of computing power into a relatively very small space. The unit will get warm and the heat expelled will vary in temperature depending on what the user is doing. You will also hear and feel the warm air from the cooling fan which seems to blow heat only out of the top left vent (in horizontal orientation). Way to go Asus. I know quite a few other laptop manufacturers that should take a hint and expel heat in a strategic location.
The first thing I did after power-up was to download the Google Chrome browser to compare a piece of software not necessarily designed or configure for this device. The install was a piece of cake, very automatic and gave no indication this was not a typical Windows desktop. The only usability difference I could find is that the flick and scroll functions of the touch screen did not work in Chrome automatically as they do by default in Internet Explorer. After a quick search, I found a plugin for Chrome that fixed the flick and scroll functions.
The web cam testing was pretty basic. The only thing I really use a web cam for is Skype and on a much more seldom basis, YouTube response videos. I used the native Windows Movie Maker program to record a short video using the web cam and the built in microphone on the left side. The quality was good and sound was surprisingly clear. The functionality is what I would expect for a monitor mounted web cam.
ArtRage Studio is an included program that gives an art easel interface with over a dozen tools for creating digital art. This program is obviously included because it is a perfect compliment to a tablet device with a touch screen interface. I didn’t spend a lot of time in this program, but it appears to have a massive following according to the number of posts on the ArtRage Forums. This is a great tool to show off the obvious advantages to a touch screen device and appears in almost every review YouTube video post I have seen. If you are an artist (I am definitely not), this type of program will have an obvious incentive.
One of the more useful tools I found was the device settings for the “ASUStek Touch-NB” device contained within the control panel. It is more easily found as the picturesque icon in the task panel. The links contained are the most useful for finding programs and settings specifically pertaining to this device. Also contained is a digital version of the user manual, which although not extensively detailed is worth taking a look at for basic operations. There is also a link for the Amazon eReader, games, applications, multimedia programs and utilities. This screen is a good place to start.
The EP121 has an accelerometer and is able to rotate the screen depending on the orientation the user has the unit in. It is not as quick as a smart phone. The screen is changing resolution and takes a couple of seconds between changes. This ability can be suppressed by switching on the orientation lock next to the power switch. I was surprised at how well this works. It seems only advantageous to switch to portrait mode when browsing the internet or using a word processor and taking notes. The resizing is accurate and operationally clean (no obvious bugs).
This device is obviously much more than a media consumption tool, but I wanted to make sure that capability was covered anyway. YouTube videos play great, even in full screen all the way up to 1080p HD if you can find them. However, going from 720p to 1080p shows a noticeable difference in smoothness of playback. 1080p seems to be just a little too much for the integrated graphics to handle. Netflix which runs in Microsoft Silverlight ran perfectly in full screen.
The on screen keyboard has two modes; keyboard mode and free-hand recognition mode. When a text field is clicked in the browser, a small icon appears below or above it to pop up the keyboard in the last mode it was used. There is also a pop-out icon from the side that can be docked anywhere on the left side of the screen. A small version of the keyboard can float anywhere on the screen or a full version can be docked at the bottom or top of the screen. The keyboard can also be shown in its last docked position by pushing the keyboard button on the side/top of the unit as mentioned earlier.
There is nothing much special about the keyboard in either mode and could be vastly improved by Microsoft just by adopting some of the mobile keyboard technology such as T9 or Swype. The keyboard is old school hunt-n-peck with the addition of some internet domain shortcuts. The handwriting has a lot more options and learns your handwriting nuances as you go. You can also teach it certain aspects of how you write to provide better recognition. It is worth spending a little time on this if you will not be always using the physical keyboard. It will save you time and frustration in the long run.
This version of the OS comes with some Microsoft games designed specifically for a touch screen as well as the usual suspects of solitaire and minesweeper. They are simple games but they do a good job of displaying the graphics, sound and touch screen capabilities of the device. By the way, these games are designed for finger touch, not the pen.
Most of my computer time consists of remote access of some kind to another network through VPN. I installed Cisco VPN and tried to do a little of everything I would as if I were working from home for a week. This included Remote Desktop to a Windows server, SSH or Telnet to a Linux server, VNC to either Windows or Linux, file transfer, java programs and a half a dozen other activities. Everything worked without a problem. Most of these things were more difficult if I wasn’t using the keyboard but the pen worked just fine for getting around the desktop in the absence of a mouse.
Up until this experience with the EP121, I was convinced there were five tiers for consumer compute devices. The smart phone being the smallest of the five is a pure consumption device as well as a phone and is good to always have on my person. The pad device is a larger media consumption tool and should be used when a wifi signal is not present or long battery life is a must. The netbook and notebook are the next two tiers and can be qualified by portability, battery life and capability. Then, finally is the desktop for full non-portable work and play.
The Asus EP121 puts a sixth tier into my scale. I would fit it in between the netbook and the notebook. It has the capabilities of both but also contains much of the media consumption capability of the pad and matches the power of the notebook. Where the slate suffers is with battery life. Although it will outlast my laptop by a good hour or two, the netbook will match or beat it even when working on cpu intensive applications. Of course, the netbook doesn’t have near the screen size or resolution of the slate.
Being that I use my computers much more for business than anything, I can see the ultimate use for this device as a C-level executive’s or manager’s pad. They would still have a laptop, but this would be the perfect device for providing the power, screen size, capability and versatility for someone using it in a mostly or purely business centric way. The consumer can use it as a general purpose slate if they are needing more than a simple media consumption device but not a powerhouse for playing high-end games. If the price tag doesn’t bother you, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.
Graphic Artist Dream Tech
I purchased this thing several weeks ago, specifically because I watched a review favorably comparing it to a Wacom Cintiq tablet. It’s the damn truth. Whether you are drawing with the included Artrage software, or photoshop cs5 (or one of the many other available apps), you will be *pleasantly surprised* with how snappy and effective it is at faithfully translating your marks. Simply put, you may very well forget you are not drawing on paper with a pencil, pen or whatever else you may choose to illustrate with. I took it to life drawing last week, and… I may not need a paper tablet / pen & ink ever again. Its that good.
I will say this – if you, like me are not able to find the 64 gig version, the 32 gig version is simply too small to use (as windows take like 20 gigs out of the box). I picked up an 80 gig intel PCIe SSD and a 4 gig stick of ram, and dropped it in easily and quickly. You will need an external disc drive to get to the included recovery disc, but cracking the thing open and swapping parts is a snap. The other point I will make – Axiotron makes 3rd party styluses that mimic the standard wacom versions – and have a couple buttons to boot. Its cheap ($30) – and works immediately. You will need to install other drivers to get pressure sensitivity working in pshop, however.
As far as comparing this thing to other tablets. Don’t. Its not an iPad. If you want a device that is purely for entertainment, get something else. This makes for an expensive and heavy iPad. But, if you are a graphic artist (or anyone else who needs to write longhand into a digital device) you simply can’t go wrong.
Desired updates for future versions:
- higher resolution. Its pixel density is similar to a 21″ 1080 monitor, but you are only getting 1280 x 800 of it. Frankly, its a non-issue. But more pixels are always welcome.
- higher capacity battery. Expect to have your adapter handy. Enough said.
- dedicated GPU. The ep121 sports an integrated Intel GPU, and its not all that. But you’re not going to be using this thing to run Crysis, so that weakness is somewhat mollified. That being said, it would be a welcome addition.
All in all, 5 star tech.
Everything I wanted from a Windows 7 Tablet PC
It’s better than an iPad in numerous ways. It offers all the productivity of a laptop, plus the ability to hand write notes, draw on screen captures, and annotate pdfs. It also offers the world’s most popular operating system–and it runs Windows 7 well.
And whereas other Tablet PC’s in the past have cost an arm and a leg, this thing is extremely good looking, very nimble on its feet, totally portable, and far more affordable than anything else in its productivity class has ever been.
In short, I love my ASUS Slate.
The only con is that the battery life isn’t *that* great relative to netbooks, but is pretty respectable relative to laptops. It gets about 4 hours under normal usage and much-reduced brightness settings (which are totally sufficient).
My hopes for future generations of the Slate are: more battery life, a discrete graphics chip (but believe me, the graphics performance of the Slate is exceptional considering it’s running integrated graphics), and a bigger SSD drive.
Keep in mind that on mine I have a full install of Windows 7, Visual Studio 2010, Office 2010, Microsoft Expression Suite, Intel Parallel Studio 2011, LibreOffice 3, etc etc etc. And I still have something like 15GB left!
In short, I love my Slate and can’t say enough good things about it. In my opinion ASUS really hit it out of the park on this one. THIS is what a Windows 7 Tablet PC/Slate SHOULD be.
If you’re a student, this is just what you need. Trust me. It rocks!