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Asus Eee Pad Slider review

The Eee Pad Slider is a tablet with a hidden secret: a near full-size slide out qwerty keyboard. Is it a work of genius, or are there flaws to the design? Read on for our full review.

Choosing a tablet can be a rather difficult task, especially if you want to add a keyboard into the mix. Do you opt for a separate keyboard, or select a tablet that comes with one as part of the deal?

Asus is having great success with its Eee Pad Transformer range precisely because that device incorporates a keyboard that doesn’t have to be attached to the tablet all the time. It’s the ideal combination of tablet and netbook.

Now Acer has expanded on that idea with the Eee Pad Slider SL101, a tablet with a permanently integrated keyboard that’s not always visible.

The Slider is a device made in two sections, and that has an effect on size and weight. It weighs a rather heavy 960g and you won’t want to hold it in one hand for long. It is 17.3mm thick thanks to the keyboard that lies hidden under the 10 inch screen till you need it. The weight and thickness are the two compromises you have to suck up if you want this device.

The screen is a 1280 x 800 pixel, ten inch panel and it is bright and light. We’ve no complaints at all about it. The keyboard is got at when you lift the back long edge of the screen section upwards. It slides back to an angle of about 45 degrees and comes to rest on a solid metal stand.

The angle is good for viewing, but the mechanism feels a bit awkward. We had to anchor the front edge of the Slider to the table during the screen revealing process. Pushing downwards on the top of the screen section to hide the keyboard again was a much less clunky procedure.

The keyboard itself lacks some of the great design principles that characterise the Eee Pad Transformer. The feel is rather spongy as you type, and there’s no comforting click as you tap away. There’s a lip beneath the bottom row of keys that we kept hitting whenever we tapped the space bar. And with no wrist rest, the typing position felt a little odd.

All in all, we guess that we slowed our typing speed down by about 30 percent to get full accuracy and we never felt really comfortable typing. But we did enjoy the fact that Asus bundles Polaris Office, which can be used to produce Microsoft Office compatible documents, spreadsheets and presentations. We also played around using Google Docs online.

Also on the plus side, Asus has added some nice keyboard combinations for screen brightness, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controls, there are Home, Back, Search and Menu keys to keep Android users happy, and a set of cursor keys too.

Asus has not stinted on the specifications which include a dual core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and either 16GB or 32GB of built in storage. There is a microSD card slot for adding more memory and you can also access USB sticks. This means yet more memory expansion and the ability to read documents or media from either format.

The Asus Eee Pad Slider runs Android 3.2 and will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). A 5 megapixel main camera and 1.2 megapixel front camera give you video and stills shooting capability. There’s HDMI out via a mini connector for which you will have to purchase an adaptor as Asus does not provide one.

As befits a modern tablet there’s a DLNA client, and Asus also adds in extras like the Kindle reader app, Zinio and PressReader. You even get free unlimited cloud storage for a year. Though there’s no SIM support.

Asus has produced a clever little tablet here. The specifications and software extras impress, and the idea of incorporating a keyboard does too, but we’re not totally sold on the overall implementation. The keyboard itself leaves a little to be desired, and we wouldn’t want to use it for prolonged periods.

Written by Sandra Vogel