Asus Eee Slate B121 is tough but lacks stamina
SINGAPORE: To be honest, I’ve never been a tablet person.
Why use a tablet, where the on-screen keyboard takes up half the screen, when you can use a laptop instead?
Sure, others might argue that a tablet’s weight, compact size and ease of use would more than make up for its disadvantages, but I’ve yet to be convinced… even after spending some time with the Asus Eee Slate B121. Of course, that’s not to say that it doesn’t make an effort to try and change my mind.
The first thing you’ll notice is the 12.1 inch LED-backlit touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass. The screen is not just clear, but it is pretty tough as well. The 1280×800 resolution displays HD videos with ease. Watching a YouTube movie trailer on 1080p also means you can catch every fine detail.
Booting up the Intel Core i5-powered Eee Slate is a pretty speedy affair, with the tablet’s 64GB SSD giving it a clear edge over my trusty old laptop.The Windows 7 Professional tablet comes preloaded with several programs made for the touch screen.
A quick peek at its program list reveals the Windows Touch Pack, which includes several touch screen-enabled games and programs such as Rebound, an air hockey-like game, and Surface Globe, seemingly Microsoft’s version of Google Earth.
Those who need to do presentations will find that the Eee Slate does come equipped with two USB 2.0 ports, a mini HDMI port and a SD card reader, thus giving it slightly more flexibility than say, an iPad.
The Eee Slate’s greatest strength however, lies in its handwriting recognition. While the default on-screen keyboard is competent, the outstanding performance of its handwriting software outshines it. Using the tablet’s Wacom digitizer pen, the tablet is able to recognise about 85 to 90 per cent of the words I wrote, even when written in the cursive style.
The digitizer is also pretty decent when paired up with drawing software. While one might be able to draw decent sketches, the digitizer is still not as sensitive as some of Wacom’s more recent offerings, like the Bamboo or Intuos5.
So while this tablet might be targeted at the enterprise user, design students and perhaps those who need to write copious amounts of notes in class can still consider getting the Eee Slate. Eee Slate users though, will have to live with several drawbacks.
For all its “toughness”, the capacitive touch screen has difficulty detecting more than two fingers at the same time. An attempt at playing Microsoft Rebound with four fingers resulted in a rather chaotic and messy game as the tablet struggled to keep up with my movements.
Those expecting something as thin and light as Apple’s iPad will be disappointed, as the Eee Slate is 16.95mm thick and weighs in at a hefty (for a tablet) 1.16kg.
While the weight might not be an issue for some, the tablet’s biggest disappointments lie in its battery life and price. Though Asus lists the battery life at around four-and-a-half hours, this is only possible if you lower the screen’s brightness down to the lowest level. At maximum brightness, you probably won’t see it last beyond two hours.
The tablet is also rather pricey at S$1,699 – the same cost factor that can probably buy you a decent mid-range to high-end laptop. So the Asus Eee Slate might be for you only if you like to take notes, have money to spare and regularly make presentations.