Tablets might be all the range at the moment, but tablets running Windows like the new Asus Eee Slate EP121 are few and far between. The main argument against the operating system and format match is that Windows just doesn’t work well with the tablet design. So how does it stack up?
We all know that to work well, a piece of hardware needs to be an appropriate size. It would seem that, where Windows tablets are concerned, larger is better. Windows 7 Home Premium, as found here, fits into the 12.1in 1280×800-pixel screen better than we’ve seen it fit into smaller options. It’s much easier to use the operating system on a larger screen with a finger, or indeed, with the stylus that slides into a housing along one of the long edges of the chassis.
For times when screen-based input simply won’t work, a Bluetooth keyboard is provided. This is curved slightly to provide for easier user ergonomics. It felt a little lacklustre under our fingers, but it’s perfectly good enough for bashing out some text. It doesn’t, however, look like it was made to accompany the straight lined, rectangular Asus Eee Slate EP121 itself – which may irritate if you like your new kit to fit together well visually.
A nippy little number
The Eee Slate EP121 is expensive. More expensive than a trio of netbooks. And that’s really the point at which you start to question its utility. But the specifications do seem to justify the price. There’s an Intel Core i5 470UM processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of built-in storage, Wi-Fi, a couple of USB ports, HDMI, headset / microphone slot, and an SD card slot.
It is not in the same league as a £1,000 notebook, admittedly, but Asus does seem to have pulled out a few stops. The result, as far as coping with the tasks we gave it are concerned, was a positive user experience gained from a well-constructed, solid and attractive-looking tablet with good core specifications. It is a shame the screen is so prone to picking up fingermarks, though.
Fit for purpose?
The overall size of the Asus Eee Slate EP121 is rather large. At 312x207x17mm and weighing 1.16kg, it’s chunky to carry around, and that’s before you’ve even factored in the provided protective flip-over case or the keyboard, which doesn’t come with any kind of slipcase at all. The tablet itsels is also heavy to hold in one hand for tablet-style use – when lounging on the sofa, for instance.
Propping the EP121 up notebook style for serious work is tricky, too. The flip case does do the job, but we didn’t find it all that sturdy and regular users may need to purchase a dock – which is something else to carry around, of course.
It’s important to note that the Asus Eee Slate EP121 isn’t intended as a direct rival for the iPad or the many Android tablets out there. It is a professional user’s machine designed to fit in the office. Maybe office workers can live with these issues.
- Large screen that does Windows justice; bundled Bluetooth keyboard.
- Heavy; expensive.
Asus has done well with the Eee Slate EP121, and it proves that Windows can work in a tablet format. But it's large, heavy, and expensive. Although it demonstrates that Windows can function in this format, the Asus Eee Slate EP121 also proves that it's not a great use of the operating system.