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Asus Eee Slate EP121 review

Verdict

Not without flaws, but as a professional tablet suited to graphical work it has a certain appeal

Review Date: 8 Apr 2011

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £833 (£1,000 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

The Asus Eee Slate EP121 is not designed to take on the iPad. It’s important to get that out of the way immediately, because it’s an unfair comparison made by pretty much everyone we've shown it to. This Windows 7 tablet is aimed far more at professionals than those looking for their daily hit of Angry Birds.

The internals give that away immediately. Rather than crawling along on Atom power, the Eee Slate has a 1.3GHz Core i5-470UM processor – a low-voltage part that, while not quite as full-fat as it sounds, offers vastly more power than other popular tablets. Along with 4GB of DDR3, it completed our real-world benchmarks with an overall score of 0.39, and managed some excellent scores in our Media tests: it proved nearly three times faster than the AMD Brazos chip in the Acer Iconia W500.

Asus Eee Slate EP121 - front

That makes video and photo editing, along with all manner of other graphical work, a realistic option, as we proved by comfortably editing a 1080p video in Sony Vegas Pro 10. Sure, once you’re done creating, it won’t blitz through the encoding as fast as a workstation laptop, despite its 64GB of flash storage, but then most workstation laptops don’t have the Eee Slate’s touchscreen and digitiser pen.

Open a flap on the top-right edge and out it pops, allowing you to scrawl and tap your way around interfaces that a finger prod just wouldn’t be able to navigate. This single addition gets you past all of the usual problems we have with Windows 7 on touch devices, such as the list menus and the tiny window controls. We’re not going to pretend the Eee Slate turns Windows into iOS or Android, but on a screen this large it’s certainly usable, particularly if you up the DPI to 125%.

What it can do that those rival OSs can’t is run full Windows applications. To this end Asus has bundled the Eee Slate with a rebranded Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard, as well as a folding leather case with two rear flaps that prop the screen at comfortable angles, in a similar fashion to an iPad case.

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User comments

Incorrect Specs Listed

This machine does include an SD/XC card reader. The specs incorrectly list it as absent.

By pelleg10 on 8 Apr 2011

"ultimately it’s held back by Windows’ lacklustre touch experience"

I think this depends on what you think touch is there for. The quote rather seems to me like telling the Phoenicians - this writing business will never catch on - it's nothing like as satisfying as smearing your thumbs in the mud.

Unless and until we get screen that cope with both accurate screen based writing (presumably stylus based) and rough gestures, we'll be left with 2 radically different GUIs

By AdrianB on 8 Apr 2011

How an artist work

"...the other question is whether graphics professionals wouldn’t be better served by pairing an Apple Macbook Pro 13 with a Wacom graphics tablet..."

This is a common misunderstanding. Using a pen/stylus is only really good when you can draw on the same surface as your actual drawing. Using a wacom tablet (unless its a Cintiq) is better than a mouse but can never compare to pen and paper. The Eee Slate can.

By dasse on 11 Apr 2011

I like......

.......but does anyone know if you can bosh Ubuntu on this? I don't mind a bit of effort being required *goes off to research the net*

By Waderider on 11 Apr 2011

No

I was hoping that this review would be a good review, but, right at the end it all fell apart with that one comment, "held back by Windows’ lacklustre touch experience."

here is a guide to ensure the fans stay nice and quiet:
http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/ep121-slate/39778-
ep121-out-box-tweak-clean-services-applications.ht
ml

P.s. I managed to clean install, setup drivers and applications, get onto the domain and do the usual browsing with... my little pinky. As far as I see it, if you can browse on the web and play Plants vs Zombies/Angry birds via touch, it's a valid touch device.

Oh well.

By rhythm on 11 Apr 2011

There are many tweaks you can make to Windows 7 to make it more touch friendly. You can also do much to improve startup time and battery life by removing unnecessary software, disabling some services and turning off the power hungry Aero UI effects.

However, Pen Input is far more useful than you seem to give it credit. It is lack of pen input that marks the iPad out as a toy rather than a useful tool.

Windows 7's handwriting recognition is excellent and the ability to handwrite notes and drawings in Office applications is a real boon for many people. Busy managers love being able to scribble on Word documents and email them direct from a tablet PC. It is so much easier for them than having to type.

Try running OneNote on a slate PC and taking it to a meeting. You get to handwrite your notes, just like on paper, but later you can click a couple of buttons and your handwritten notes are transformed into typewritten text to be transferred to emails or formal minutes.

Handwriting is also searchable so your quick scribbles can be found easily later.

Touch is good but we don't write with our fingers. We write with pens.

Simon Jones

By Simon_Jones_RWC on 19 Apr 2011

Simon, I agree with you. We've had many an argument over this in the office, and I seem to be in the minority in thinking the pen really does make it a viable tablet - albeit in a totally different category to the current crop. My conclusion was originally more positive but the group consensus won out. That's democracy for you!

David

By DavidBayon on 19 Apr 2011

Where can you try & buy one in the UK?

Anyone know of anywhere?

By lemonstar61 on 15 Dec 2012

The reason I'm considering something like this..

The university produces all of its lecture notes on Powerpoint - they are available on the intranet for printing off so you can take them to the lectured and hand annotate them and that's what I want be able to do - annotate over the top of Microsoft Word documents - I don't want to have to use a printer every morning to print out a lot of pages. The YouTube videos I saw of the handwriting recognition made it look entirely possible to do what I want - and this is th eonly reason for buying the device - any other functionality is a bonus - I already have a laptop. Is this the best option or is there an alternative - either better or cheaper?

By lemonstar61 on 17 Dec 2012

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