CNET First Look
Asus Eee Slate EP121This a high-end touchscreen with a separate Bluetooth keyboard pushes the boundaries, thanks to an Intel Core i5 processor.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here with the Asus EP121. That is something that's pretty rare these days. It's a Windows 7 tablet. We first saw this guy back at CES 2011. We've done a few bouncing around Europe. They're actually pretty hard to find in the US right now. It's a little bit different from most of the other Windows tablet that we've seen in some very good ways. First of all, instead of being super underpowered, it actually got an Intel Core i5 CPU in it. Now, it's not the current, what they call a Sandy Bridge version with a better built-in graphics and really high in performance, it's last year's ultra low voltage version, but it's still a huge step-up from most of the tablets that we've seen. They run Windows that usually acts like an Intel Atom in them that make them virtually unusable. This also has a bigger screen than a lot of tablets. A lot of the tablets are 7 inches, 9 inches. This is a 12-inch display. It's got this cool edge-to-edge glass [unk] that's very nice, thus pick up fingerprints pretty easily; however, you know all that anti-fingerprint stuff they have on like the iPad screen. Well, there's none of that here. That said, it's a good size for watching movies and it is a pretty descent size for working on for longer periods, almost like a 13-inch laptop, which is probably the smallest size screen we consider, you know, for all day use. Now, along with the touchscreen tablet, you also get a bundled Bluetooth keyboard that matches up very nicely design-wise and, of course, it connects wirelessly through Bluetooth, and you can use this keyboard or of course it's got the standard Windows on-screen keyboard right here, which is not the best on-screen keyboard in the world, but it's one that pretty much every Windows touchscreen tablet has. Your mileage with it may vary. The EP121 feels a lot zippier than pretty much every other Windows tablet we've used. Thanks to that Core i5, and in fact, you can even go into a web browser and do a finger scrolling like this, something that you can't do in a lot of Windows-based tablets. We only got this to working Internet Explorer. It wouldn't work in Chrome for us. And then there's some art programs built-in. You could do some sketching in here if you feel like it, and, you know, obviously, you could stream Google through it pretty easily. It's not gonna get too stuttery because of that powerful CPU. Connection-wise, you've got a couple of USB ports over here on the sides. They're under these little covers right here. You've also got HDMI and an SD card slot and there's a volume rocker here on the side, and if you tilt it, it should reorient itself. There's a little lock switch you can put on to it, it won't do that. If you don't want it to, obviously, it doesn't flip as fast as a non-Windows tablets do. As far as Windows tablets go, it's actually one of the cooler looking ones we've seen. Thanks to the edge-to-edge glass, the metal front bezel, and the back is plastic, but still looks pretty good. It's also a lot lighter than you'd think, especially considering it's a lot of glass and metal on the front side of it. Now, the EP121 is not gonna come cheap. It starts at about 1000 bucks. I think you could trade up to a more expensive version that has a bigger solid state hard-drive. The basic version has a 32-gig drive. And as far as Windows tablets go right now, if price is the object, I'd say this is currently the one to beat. I'm Dan Ackerman, and that is the Asus EP121.