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Asus Eee Slate EP121 - Touch, Stylus and Keyboard

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


We're glad to report that the Slate's capacitive screen is as responsive as you could wish, and its larger-than-usual size also helps to make navigating with your digits a more pleasant experience than on many rival Windows tablets. However, the fact remains that Microsoft's OS isn't particularly touch-friendly to begin with. Therefore, it's actually much easier to navigate using the included stylus, which is stored in a nifty spring-loaded compartment at the tablet's rear.

Wacom's built-in digitizer means the stylus doesn't require batteries, as it uses magnetic resonance to detect the pen's position and pressure level. The pen itself features a replaceable tip at its base and a rounded eraser at its top. Though it's a plain white plastic affair, we prefer the feel of it to the more aesthetically pleasing effort that accompanied the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet.

For handwriting it works flawlessly. However, as an artist's tool it's not without its limitations. For one thing, drawing on the Gorilla glass surface does take some getting used to, especially if you're used to the paper-like feel of a proper Wacom Intuos 4. It also lacks the tilt sensitivity of dedicated tablets, and only registers 512 pressure levels compared to the Intuos 4's 2048.

On the other hand, being able to draw directly on the screen holds an undeniable appeal. To get a similar experience with a 'proper' graphics tablet, the only option right now is the 12.1in Wacom Cintiq, which will still set you back around £700 on its own. Much like the £1,380 X220 Tablet then, Asus' Eee Slate EP121 is a flawed but nonetheless appealing proposition for artists and designers.

Getting to typing on this tablet, again it's made easier by the screen's larger size, and we appreciate the inclusion of a handy dedicated button to bring up Windows' built-in touch keyboard. However, quite simply we prefer the onscreen keyboards of every other OS but windows. So if you're planning an extended typing session, the included Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 is a godsend.

To get the full low down on this award-winning little keyboard you should click through to read our review, but suffice it to say that it's compact and light yet very ergonomic. It offers a superb typing experience that we doubt any of the keyboard docks for competing tablets can hold a candle to.


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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