One of the somewhat unexpected runaway hits of this year has been the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Asus struck gold when it combined a competent 10in Android tablet with a removable laptop dock the combination of which could be folded shut just like a laptop, and made it cheaper – even with its dock – than just about all the tablet competition. At the time it announced the Transformer, it also showed us the Slider, but this has yet to hit the market. Out at IFA, we got to have a play with one though. Can it repeat the success of the Transformer?
What's immediately obvious with the Slider is that, as with the Transformer, Asus hasn't gone all out for super slim design but has instead gone for a practical yet stylish approach. So Apple iPad 2 rivalling in its slimness, it isn't but it's smart and very well built.
Most of the chassis is plastic but the choice of finishes and fit and finish is excellent, with the two token chrome sections – the stripe on the lid and the hinge on the back – adding just that right level of bling. The Soft touch chocolate brown of the model we were looking at is particularly nice.
For all its clever design, though, the Slider is clearly a somewhat chunky machine. Nonetheless, it succeeds in fulfilling precisely what is wanted from a device of its form factor – it’s a genuinely smaller and more portable alternative to a laptop yet a more practical working tool than a standard tablet.
Slide the screen backwards and upwards and a reasonable size keyboard is revealed. It's a little more cramped than on the Transformer but the layout is excellent and the key action more than adequate – pop this thing on your lap and you can more than easily touchtype. What's more, while the inability to actually detach the keyboard has its disadvantages, the slider form factor does have some advantages too.
For a start, it's easier to do precisely the above scenario. The transformer was rather top heavy and had a tendency to topple over backwards if you got the screen at the wrong angle. The Slider, though, stays nice and secure. The sliding action also means you need less space to deploy the screen at a readable angle, making it easier to use in confined spaces.
Perhaps crucially what you don't get is a touchpad, meaning you always have to use the touchscreen to navigate the system - something that can become a little tedious. Overall, we'd probably still prefer the laptop style form factor of the Transformer but the slider one certainly has potential.