Asus Eee Slate EP121

We've had reservations about Windows 7 as a touch OS ever since Microsoft announced it; however, the Eee Slate EP121 goes some way to alleviating those. It'll likely take Windows 8 to go all the way, and by then, it may be too late. Until then, the Eee Slate EP121 is the best Windows tablet you can get.


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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


While there were several Windows tablets promised at CES this year, the only one we've seen to date has been Hanvon's BC10, a 10.1-inch tablet that felt like it lacked a bit of polish.

Asus is the next to play the game with the Eee Slate EP121, and as one would expect of the company, the product has excellent build quality.

A 12.1-inch screen is the main attraction, with a disappointingly low resolution of 1280x800. Still, the touch is quite sensitive and, thanks to the Core i5 470um processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD, the machine's performance is rather snappy too.

To get around some of Windows' touch difficulties, Asus has opted to increase the OS' default DPI to 125 per cent, making elements larger and easier to interact with. While this works well for the most part, it has the unfortunate side effect of making non-DPI scaling enabled programs, like Adobe Acrobat, look blurred. You can always scale it back down to 100 per cent, but at the cost of ease of use.

Asus Eee Slate EP121 scaling

125 per cent DPI scaling in action. Background text: sharp. Foreground text: blurry.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Mitigating this somewhat is the included stylus, a Wacom pressure sensitive one at that. The Eee Slate is also bundled with Art Rage 3, a wonderful inclusion that should keep the creative types rather enthralled. While we managed decent results through Art Rage, what won't captivate is the perceptible lag between pen stroke and what's rendered on the screen. There's definitely a delay between pen press and the registered effect on-screen.

Sound is surprisingly good for a machine this thin; while it lacks in bass as would be expected, clarity and volume is decent. It also packs in the connectors, with two USB ports, one mini HDMI and an SD card reader.

Buttons are limited, with only a power button, rotation lock, Flip 3D button and virtual keyboard button on the device. You'll likely only ever use one, though, due to poor execution on behalf of Asus.

Flip 3D is a poor man's alt-tab, as we all discovered through Windows Vista, and it isn't exceedingly touch-friendly. After an initial play, you'll not touch this again.

You'll want rotation lock turned on, and you should leave it there — although the screen can auto-rotate to match the orientation of the slate, it blanks out for an exceedingly long time before reappearing in the proper orientation.

The virtual keyboard button is a nice idea: wherever you are, press it and a keyboard pops up onscreen. Execution is poor, though — unlike the usual Windows keyboard, this one isn't resizable or movable, and takes up half the screen. With the low vertical resolution of 800-pixels suddenly halved to 400-pixels, there's a good chance that the box you were typing into will be hidden, or at least difficult to navigate to. Stick to the pop-up soft keyboard that Windows supplies by default, and all will be fine.

Using the included leather case, the Eee Slate can be propped up at slight vertical or horizontal angles, as well as something that positions it more like a laptop screen, something incredibly handy given the bundled Bluetooth keyboard. A Bluetooth mouse isn't included, though, leaving the full laptop transformation just out of grasp. Synching the Bluetooth keyboard to the Eee Slate for the first time is an absolute pain, although this is the fault of Microsoft rather than Asus.

Using just the Slate without the keyboard was a mixed experience. While Windows 7 is significantly better than its predecessors in regards to touch interaction, there are still frustrating elements, like difficult to resize windows and absolutely no way to interact when faced with the boot options screen. Still, we loved the power, flexibility and portability it gave us, with even typing on the virtual keyboard a pleasant experience.

Running Intel HD graphics means this thing isn't the most powerful kid on the block, with a 3DMark06 score of 1060. It should be fine for casual gaming, but don't expect to run a recent AAA title. PCMark05 gave back a more impressive score of 4311, which positions this as a great business machine.

Turning off all power saving features, setting screen brightness to maximum and playing back an XViD file full-screen is a rather tough battery test, and the Eee Slate did quite well, lasting two hours and 27 minutes. This is roughly on-par with performance from a $1500 15-inch laptop. Lighter use and an aggressive power plan should see this extend considerably.

We've had reservations about Windows 7 as a touch OS ever since Microsoft announced it; however, the Eee Slate EP121 goes some way to alleviating those. It'll likely take Windows 8 to go all the way, and by then, it may be too late. Until then, the Eee Slate EP121 is the best Windows tablet you can get.

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KarenM5 Facebook
6
Rating
 

"can be pain"

KarenM5 posted a review   

The Good:easy to use, cool software

The Bad:ALot!!

The screen kyboard IS adjustable in size, and synching the bluetooth keyboardwas not pain for me.
Some of he features dont work, like bluetooth Suite and Amazon indle for PC. Theae need downloading etc to get them going. God knows what else needs activating or downloading!
After using it for a few months it kinda gets on my nerves. Sceen keybard wnt use all lettes s you can tel by this sentence,yo need to keep going bak to correct it!1!!!
AND the screen keyboard wont work in the address bar..it just freezes !!
To do a copy and paste is impossible 99.9% of the time! PAINFULL!

 

dragonstar posted a comment   
Australia

I have purchased this tablet and I am more than happy with it.

The stylus is wonderful especially if like me you have large fingers. Also after Spending about thirty minutes training the hand writing feature I have found that I can happily write at my normal speed. I especially like the ability to flip the stylus and erase things as you would with a pencil and that combined with simple controls for the handwriting tool make it very easy to use, having said that the Auto correct feature can be a little annoying at times. The storage socket on the side is a great idea and I am sure it will stop me from loosing the stylus.

I found the flip 3D button a nice feature quick and easy to use especially when I have multiple documents, web pages and explorer Screens open.

the virtual keyboard definitely needs to be resizable but as I use the handwritting for most things it isn't a problem.

the mini-HDMI works nicely and a adapters is $10 So the lack of a full sized HDMI is inconsequential

Overall I found it is a great piece of kit that has replaced my laptop for most things especially for times when I want to take a portable device out and about. It is costly but it will be money well spent.

 

"Recommend!!!!"

mlys2s posted a comment   
Australia

I want to get a tablet pc that has a stylus and good touchscreen to do my maths equation is this the latest and most useful touch tablet pc now, for a student? I'm allowed to get a tablet in a month or so if there is any other tablet that is comig out to the market soon.

 

KarenM5 posted a reply   

I would recommend it!

boybunny
1
Rating
 

"Do not buy if you are a professional artist!"

boybunny posted a review   
Australia

The Good:It will fit out the window when I throw it!

The Bad:Faulty units shipped to Australia

I desperatly needed to replace my Cintiq because it had terrible tracking on all my computers.

I read reviews and tested one demonstration unit in store. Great reviews, great tracking.

In reality the units shipped to Australia have a common flaw, and I suspect ASUS tried to save $10 in manufacture for Australian units and it shows in the pen tracking. I do not expect perfect tracking at the extremities of the screen, but I do not expect 3mm out in every part of the screen, the curser drifting randomly depending where the pen is, and finally, the callibrtation software (and all Wacom driver calibration software) unable to calibrate because the pen clicks on the right hand side are off the screen when you click on some of the callibration points.

This is not just one unit. I took the first unit back DOA and after a very long wait got a second unit... with EXACTLY the same problem!

ASUS are shipping second rate units to Australia and charging us 1/3rd more than they charge Americans for units that don't work as advertised.

Yes, I replaced the VGA driver, the Pen Driver and then went to Version 5 of the Wacom generic driver. WIth absoluteluy no improvement at all.

 

idiotphone4lover posted a reply   
Australia

Do not buy if you are a professional applebuttboy.

 

RoderickM posted a reply   

So you think the US units are better quality?

 

RoderickM posted a reply   

Hi there - thanks for this comment. Really. I mean, how are we supposed to protect our hard earned cash without reviews like this? I'm a budding cartoonist but I clean supermarkets at night. I almost bought this until I read your comment.
Firstly, what kind of Cintiq were you using previously?
Then, is there a similar product you recommend? ( eg other slates? )
Lastly, do you think buying a US version via ebay or other will lead to NOt wanting to use this eepad as a frisbee? ^_^

idiotphone4lover
8
Rating
 

"Great 1st try Windows7 tablet from Asus, that CAN replace home a PC"

idiotphone4lover posted a review   
Australia

The Good:2 year warranty. Works with MS Office and printer, has usb, sd and hdmi.

The Bad:12" screen not full HD

About time Asus came up with a "real use" 12" tablet that's not a toy for kids.

It uses windows 7, so I can use MS Word and MS Office, just set the screen to 100 dpi. When it sits on my desk I use a usb hub on mine with usb mouse, usb keyboard and printer, I just unplug usb cable when I want to walk-about and use the stylus. Also it has a SDXD reader and HDMI.

OK, it don't have a Full HD 17.3" screen or Blu-ray reader/burner like my Asus ROG G73SW but that costs more!

Good 1st try Asus.

 

"My New Laptop and tablet in one"

pellegew posted a comment   
United States

The Good:Gorilla glass, 12.1" capacitive screen with Wacom Stylus, LAPTOP Fast, connectivity, SDXC, included accessories

The Bad:Battery Life could be better.

This is my new laptop. Fast computer, bright screen and a great touch experience with hand or with pen. Palm rejection is 100% global. Web cam is very nice and clear with Skype. Windows flicks make using the machine a breeze. These are great gestures to make it easier to operate with touch. They are at the OS level and will work in any program and are totally customizable.

Wing comes with 2 onscreen keyboards. One is used for people with accessing issues. That is the one the reviewer tuned on that couldn't resize.

The other is made for touch. It is ith a resizable keyboard or switches to hand writing recognition. This other keyboard handwriting input feature is known as the Tablet PC input panel. It is a major part of windows built in touch interface. The reviewer should turn it back on and show people an honest assessment of it. Os level handwriting recognition.




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User Reviews / Comments  Asus Eee Slate EP121

  • KarenM5

    KarenM5

    Rating6

    "The screen kyboard IS adjustable in size, and synching the bluetooth keyboardwas not pain for me.
    Some of he features dont work, like bluetooth Suite and Amazon indle for PC. Theae need downl..."

  • dragonstar

    dragonstar

    "I have purchased this tablet and I am more than happy with it.

    The stylus is wonderful especially if like me you have large fingers. Also after Spending about thirty minutes training ..."

  • mlys2s

    mlys2s

    "I want to get a tablet pc that has a stylus and good touchscreen to do my maths equation is this the latest and most useful touch tablet pc now, for a student? I'm allowed to get a tablet in a mon..."

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