The Asus Eee Pad Slider runs Android Honeycomb 3.2. We’re on the cusp of the release of the first Android 4.0, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, but Asus has confirmed that the whole Eee Pad family will get 4.0 updates in time.
“Making do” with Android 3.2 is no hardship, though, especially with the Slider. Although it uses the same Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor as the majority of Honeycomb tablets, it’s unusually smooth and lag-free. There are occasional bugs – the usual complaints of apps mysteriously refusing to install being the most common – but it’s less problematic than most Honeycomb tablets we’ve tested. Of course, it’s worth considering that many of them will have had a few nasties ironed-out since we looked at them at release. In the Antutu benchmark, it scored 5734 points, in-line with top dual-core rivals.
Like any Android device, Honeycomb is split into two main sections. You have your home screens, which you can fill with widgets and app shortcuts, and the apps menu. This houses all your apps in shortcut form.
Asus hasn’t added much pre-installed bloat to the Slider, but you can easily fill any gaps with Android Market app fodder. There are now around 300,000 apps on the Market – 90 per cent of them are awful, but that still leaves room for plenty of gems. The spread is, however, not a patch on what you get with an iPad 2.
Pre-installed extras include MyNet, a custom DLNA media streaming interface, the Movie Studio video editor, MyLibrary ebook reader and Polaris Office. As a tablet with an eye on productivity, this suite is the most important of the lot. It lets you create documents, spreadsheets and presentations in the Microsoft Office vein. Several alternatives are available from the Android Market, but we found it sufficient for most uses, with an attractive and clear interface.
What’s conspicuously absent from the Slider’s apps line-up is a decent video player. Like most Android Honeycomb devices, it doesn’t support online favourites like DivX and MKV as standard. Using a third party video player, we were able to get these files playing, but couldn’t get them to use the tablet’s hardware fully, resulting in choppy HD video. It handles YouTube HD content perfectly well though, demonstrating that this is primarily a software issue rather than a lack of power. A dual-core 1GHz processor should be able to handle 720p video with relative ease.
This is disappointing, but common to most well-known Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Archos G9 101 being key exceptions. Battery life for video is respectable, a full charge providing around seven and a half hours of looped playback of a standard definition DivX file, at 50 per cent brightness – which was more than enough for comfortable indoor viewing. However, do note that you’ll get much greater longevity with an Asus Eee Pad Transformer with keyboard dock, as the dock provides its own power supply, almost doubling the claimed 9-hour battery life.
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