So far then, the Eee Slate EP121 has been holding up very well indeed. It's nicely designed, fairly well-built, comfortable to hold and well-connected, with a superb screen and impressive speakers by tablet standards. Its responsiveness, large display, stylus 'pointer' and excellent wireless keyboard combined with meaty specifications make it easily the most usable Windows 7 tablet we've seen, and it runs quietly even when under load, something the MSI WindPad 100W couldn't even manage with an Atom running at its core.
However, the Slate pays the price for its powerful components in battery life. During average use with the screen at full brightness we managed just under three hours, while playing back a looped video at 50 percent screen brightness and with wireless radios disabled still netted us only three hours and ten minutes. That's poor by any standard, but especially grim when compared to the nine hours and more you would get from an Android or IOS tablet.
When you get right down to it, however, that's not a completely fair comparison. If you want a multimedia and browsing tablet that can also do light productivity, the iPad 2 and Eee Pad Transformer will serve you well. But if you want the ability to run the same software as on your laptop or desktop, Windows is the only way to go - and frankly, this is the first tablet on which Microsoft's OS feels truly usable.
Unfortunately, the next hurdle is price. At a whopping £998, the Slate is far from a value proposition, especially compared to the £400 iPad 2 or £380 Transformer. On the other hand, if you look at it as a designer tool and compare to an alternative like the £700 Wacom Cintiq, it suddenly seems like a far more reasonable proposition.
Asus' Eee Slate EP121 is a unique Windows tablet that has a lot going for it. A beautiful 12.1in IPS screen offers both capacitive and pen feedback with the included Wacom stylus, making it an intriguing artist's and designer's tool. Powerful internals ensure Windows 7 rarely feels less than smooth, while comprehensive connectivity and surprisingly good speakers are the icing on the cake.
However, poor battery life and its incredibly high price limits the Slate's appeal to a niche audience of well-heeled, productivity-oriented individuals who don't need to stray too far from a power outlet.