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Asus Eee Slate EP121 - Connectivity, Performance and AV

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Connectivity on the Eee Slate EP121 is excellent. All of it can be found along the left side of the tablet, where you'll discover a mini-HDMI port, combined headphone and microphone jack, SDHC-XC/MMC memory card reader and twin full-size USB 2.0 ports hidden behind sturdy flaps on flexible hinges. This makes it easy to hook the tablet up to a TV for playing back Full HD video, or to connect a monitor and mouse which, along with the keyboard, gives a full desktop experience. There's also a front-facing 2 megapixel webcam, though none at the rear.

On the wireless front, meanwhile, there are both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi N, though unfortunately there's no physical switch to turn these on or off – a small yet annoying oversight on Asus' part. A more serious issue is the Slate's lack of 3G, which you would expect to be included on a tablet costing nearly £1,000.

On the other hand, the tablet's internal specifications do help to justify that price a little. The highlight, of course, is an Intel Core i5-470UM processor. This dual-core CPU runs at 1.33GHz as standard, with a maximum Turbo Frequency of 1.86GHz. It also supports Hyper Threading for up to four virtual cores. As it's a low voltage model, it sucks down only 18W, which is very frugal for such a powerful CPU but more than double the 8.5W demanded by a dual-core Atom.

Asus Eee Slate EP121

It's backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM, an almost unheard of amount for a tablet and plenty for high-intensity productivity and demanding applications. For storage, meanwhile, there's a 64GB SSD, of which around 32GB is left free by the Windows 7 install. This should be adequate if you keep your application and video count frugal, and don't forget that you can expand the tablet's storage by up to 128GB (and more as larger SDXC cards become available) using its memory card slot.

Only the graphics card is a disappointment. It's Intel's older generation integrated effort, meaning even a relatively undemanding 3D title like Stalker will run at a frame rate of single digits. However, it's adequate for casual gaming.

Thanks to these laptop-like specifications, the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 Home Premium is a perfectly smooth experience on the Eee Slate EP121. In fact, this is the first Windows tablet we've come across where the OS doesn't feel like a burden, and where you can load applications and keep multiple windows open while playing HD video, all without feeling constrained by the hardware.

A handy dedicated button – the only one on the tablet's front – gives access to Windows Flip 3D with a short press, or to the Windows Security screen (from which you can access Task Manager) with a longer one.

An orientation sensor ensures the screen will match the way you're holding the tablet. If you want to keep it the same there's a handy orientation-lock switch, an essential but oft-neglected addition to any tablet.

Asus' premium tablet isn't just impressive on the inside. As with its Eee Pad Transformer, the company has wisely gone with an IPS panel for the 12.1in screen. Until larger versions of the AMOLED display used on the stunning Samsung Galaxy S II come along, this is as good as it gets.

Viewing angles are flawless, colours vibrant yet accurate and blacks deep and detailed. Along with the unmatched codec and container support offered by Windows, the large, 1,280 x 800 screen allows you to enjoy 720p video material in all its glory. This is something the iPad 2 can't claim because of its lower 1,024 x 768 screen resolution, while Android tablets like the Eee Pad Transformer are hindered by a poor selection of media players.

The only caveat is that the Gorilla glass layer does cause reflections, but this is the price you pay for the added protection, and a glossy screen finish is common to most tablets.

Considering the Slate's speakers are tiny, the sound they produce is undeniably impressive, especially since they do so without distortion. There's more depth, bass and detail then you would get from many netbooks, and though headphones are still recommended, they're certainly not required.


May 28, 2011, 4:59 pm

A serius caveat: the glossy screen IMHO makes this device heavily unconfortable indoor and pratically unusable in outdoor environments. Whatever your opinion on this, I think a review can't forget to cover such a critical feature.

Eric Ka

May 28, 2011, 5:05 pm

My trust is waning for the review. The max capacity of the "SDXC" SD card reader is 2 TB.

Eric Ka

May 28, 2011, 5:17 pm

Sorry, but how does the price ( $1099 USD) compare to a 64 GB ipad2 ($829) with a case ($39), keyboard ($69), video out ($39), limited photo only SD card reader ($39) and stylus ($10?)? = $1015. These are stander accessories every ipad owner I know consider' reasonable purchases. So, how does the piece of a laptop replacement EP121 compare to the "Standard"? $84 dollars more.


May 31, 2011, 2:14 pm

Unfortunately, this is a caveat to most tablets, including the iPad. And it's obvious that when you have a glass layer protecting the screen, there will be reflections. However, I've added an extra paragraph mentioning it explicitly - cheers for the feedback!

@Eric Ka:
Thanks for pointing that out, the product sheet I was looking at only mentioned SD/MMC - I've updated the review. However, until recently the maximum capacity SDXC was still only 64GB, and the first 128GB cards have only recently become available - a far cry from the theoretical maximum of 2TB...

As to your price question, does the iPad have a Core i5 CPU? No it does not. Does it have 4GB RAM? No it does not. Does it include the license fee for a full-blown desktop OS that lets you run the same software as your PC? No and no. Can a capacitive iPad stylus match up to the 512-level pressure-senitive penabled Wacom stylus, and will the iPad ignore accidental finger inputs when using a stylus? Nope again. Does the iPad let you play any video format? No. Does the Slate require adapters for video out or memory cards? No. (Is it reasonable to have to buy adapters for these things to begin with? No it is not.) I could go on but should I? No :)

Seriously though, the Slate might not be priced very competitively, but neither is it completely unreasonable. They're simply different tablets for different markets, as I mention in the review. For competing with the iPad, Asus has the rather brill Eee Pad Transformer.


July 21, 2011, 9:04 am

How can you possibly compare this to android and iPad tablets? We're talking about a notebook replacement here not a simple device solely designed for the consumption of media. Compare its price to that of a notebook in its class duh. Why would you list "no 3g" as a con? What notebooks have 3g? Just because this is shaped like an iPad does not mean that it is trying to compete with one. The writer seems to be only coming from one very limited point of view. For someone like me, an iPad is a joke of a device, an extravagant luxury that it too expensive and too limited on functionality to really do anything productive at all. This device is a PC, it runs a full operating system with good processing power. Plus the added benefit of the wacom technology which I am particularly interested in. This replaces my notebook and portable wacom tablet with a MUCH lighter all in one device. Also, from other reviews I've seen, all over YouTube for example, this device does in fact work well outside. The screen is some kind of hybrid IPS/transflective technology. I don't know much about it, but I saw the video, and it was usable as long as you weren't reflecting the sun directly into your face. The writer did not do his homework on this device IMO and more importantly, approached it from the very limited perspective of someone who just wants something that looks good on their coffee table and is fun for their friends to play with.


August 24, 2011, 3:32 pm

"The writer did not do his homework on this device IMO and more importantly, approached it from the very limited perspective of someone who just wants something that looks good on their coffee table"
I don't get comments like this. Seriously, have you even read any of the review? At all?
The bits where I say it's not fair to compare it to an iPad? The bits where I mention its unique features and capabilities that go a long way towards justifying the price? How it appeals to a completely different, more serious and productivity-oriented market? To artists and designers? The Verdict??

Heck, just read the comment I made above in reply to exactly that comparison. And "what notebooks have 3G"? How about most premium ultraportables (e.g. Lenovo X1, Sony Z, Samsung 9, etc etc). Please read the article and do some research before posting in future.

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