The Keyboard

The Slider's keyboard is unbelievably convenient. In the opening of this review I lamented the fact that switching between two separate devices depending on whether or not I had to do a lot of typing seemed silly. The Eee Pad Slider almost completely addresses this issue. You can relax on the couch and use the Slider as a tablet, but the moment you need to do a lot of typing you've got a full blown keyboard at your disposal.

The keyboard doubles as a convenient stand for the Slider. Unlike the iPad 2's smartcover, the Slider's stand holds the tablet significantly upright. If you're lying down on a couch you can use the Slider just as you would an ultraportable notebook or netbook.

The slider mechanism doesn't work like a phone with a sliding keyboard. Instead of pushing the display up along the horizontal plane, you actually grab onto a lip at the top of the screen and pull up along the vertical plane - almost like you're opening a container rather than sliding up a smartphone display. The process is surprisingly fluid and confidence inspiring. The mechanism is spring loaded so after you've got the screen lifted up by about 15 degrees the rest goes a bit quicker. The process can be as quiet or as noisy as you want depending on how quickly you slide the screen up.

The screen is fixed at a ~45-degree angle. There's no tilting it once it's in its final resting place. For the most part the angle of the screen works well. Although I didn't spend any time on a plane with the Slider I don't anticipate someone reclining in front of you impeding your ability to use the tablet in the air.

Build quality is surprisingly good although there's obviously some movement in the slider hinge. When closed the Slider feels remarkably sturdy with little to no flex in the chassis itself.

The keyboard is wired directly to and powered by the tablet. Unlike the Transformer, the keyboard doesn't contain a separate battery. The keyboard layout is very easy to get used to. There are 66 keys and nearly everything is where you'd expect to find it. There's even a cute little capslock LED on the keyboard. Just as with the Transformer, there are dedicated home, back and search keys. There is no alt-tab equivalent however, which is more of an Android limitation than an ASUS one. Unfortunately there's also no way to bring up Honeycomb's recently used apps list from the keyboard. The keys are hardly full sized, I measured 14 x 11mm compared to 16 x 16mm on Apple's chiclet keyboard. Unless you have huge fingers however the key size is a non-issue. For the editors in the audience ASUS was sure to enable function+arrow key combinations for home, end, page up and page down. All four functions work perfectly in Polaris Office.

This is still Android so there's no way to control things like key repeat rate, although you can enable/disable auto-correct and configure how aggressive the auto-correct should behave. These configuration options only apply to the virtual keyboard (which is only visible when the slider is closed), with the physical keyboard in use you get no auto-correct.

Typing quickly on the Slider's keyboard can be a problem. Unlike a traditional notebook there's no trackpad, which means there's also no wrist rest. There's also a tall lip that borders the keyboard and is taller than all of the keys, which occasionally got in the way of me hitting the space bar. The keys aren't always super responsive either. My main issue was with the space bar but occasionally I'd miss a letter here or there. Shifting my typing style to being a little more deliberate with each finger press generally addressed the problem.

If you're hoping for the quality of a high end notebook's keyboard, you will be disappointed. The Slider's keyboard is functional and it gets the job done, but set your expectations accordingly. It's not hard to get used to, but it's definitely not the best keyboard I've ever used.

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  • dagamer34 - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    It's pretty much only a matter of time until Chrome OS gets folded into Android as the "docked" experience for tablets. Not only that but I can see ICS letting you run ICS apps in "smartphone" mode docked on the side so you really start multi-tasking.

    And because of all of this stuff, you'll start to see Chrome OS become a viable third platform to compete with the Mac and PC. Maybe it's 5-10 years down the road, but it's definitely the future.
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    Yep, as I stated, but possibly less clearly. These devices promise productivity, but the software ecosystem just isn't there yet. I also agree that it will be a while, but I hope we are more like 1-2 years away, rather than 5-10 yrs...
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    "Obviously you can do the same on a notebook or desktop, the tablet form factor combined with a responsive touch UI simply means you can do these things in a more relaxed position."

    I think that's fairly subjective. I can use my laptop in a very relaxed position.

    I'd prefer an ultralight like the Latitude E4200 or E4300 over a tablet. A 12" display that is bright and easy to read, a full-size keyboard, an option for a WWAN card, and a 64 or 128GB SSD that when coupled with a low-voltage Core 2, makes it a plenty fast system. I also get the choice of Windows or Linux and all of the apps available for both, easy connectivity to local or networked printers, etc. and it's easy to use laying back, and easy to carry around.

    I'm not saying tablets aren't interesting, but aside from e-book reader and casual surfer, still haven't found a great use. My smartphone can do all the small things I'd do with a tablet, my notebook can do anything I'd use the larger display for.
  • TrackSmart - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I'm in the same boat.

    I seriously hope something akin to the Samsung Galaxy Note comes to Verizon. Sure it would be huge phone (with a 5.3" screen), but it would still be pocketable and have a high-enough resolution to make the large screen useful (1280x800). Plus, I wouldn't have to pay for two data plans if I wanted internet access everywhere.

    Here's what I'm talking about:
  • Rick83 - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    If it were cheaper, I'd consider the note as well.
    But wtf, 800 euro....Guess I'll be waiting for Archos to finally replace the A5IT, and pay 300 euro for pretty much the same performance, but better video.
  • dagamer34 - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    I think it's only a matter of time until your tablet and your laptop are literally the same thing like the transformer, and then you'll have a dock at home so you can work in a desktop setting. SoC performance needs to improve by a few generations, but it'll be here soon enough. When it does come, the "one OS to rule them all" mindset Microsoft has for Windows 8 will pay off in spades then.
  • sjael - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    Just a pity that the Slider came so late in the cycle. If it was packing Kal-El, I'd snap one up in a heartbeat.

    On the topic of your video review/commentary, I will say that while you are actively talking about the Slider (or whatever future gadget,) it could pay to be a bit more hands-on with it. Making a criticism and then vaguely gesturing at the device in question doesn't do anything to convey the significance of the issue to the viewer. And no matter how sexy you are, the video *is* about the device, after all. :D

    Other than that you can across as very knowledgeable and more importantly, genuine. Something very few video reviewers seem to be able to manage these days.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the feedback, I'll do my best to incorporate some of it in the next video :)

    Take care,
  • IlllI - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    good concept. But two issues :tiny key size, and I see a lot of dead space in the keyboard section. A seemingly huge section under the area when the panel is in the 'up' position. They probably could have put an extra battery pack in there or -something-
  • knickerbocker - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    a little off topic, my apologies. the bit about next-gen android tablets sporting 1920x1200 screens - when / where was that announced, if i might ask?

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