asus eee slate ep121

Verdict

For a tablet costing £999, it really does need to do something special simply to make it worth considering, and the good news is that the Slate EPE121 does stand out from the crowd thanks to its powerful specification and large 12.1-inch screen.

We liked

General performance is great, with enough serious CPU grunt to make some desktops blush. Multitasking is painless, and thanks to the fact it runs Windows 7, you won't have a problem finding apps to make the most of that power.

The screen is bright, vibrant and, thanks to the IPS panel used, boasts great viewing angles. It's just as good as showing off your latest designs as it is watching a few movies

Drawing using the Slate EP121 is an incredible experience, with near-instant feedback on your strokes. The Wacom digitizer is a neat addition here, and actually represent decent value for money given the competition.

The bundled carry sleeve, power supply (with USB port) and Bluetooth keyboard are all of the highest standard, and genuinely add to the Slate's capabilities. It does almost double the unit weight carrying the whole lot round with you, though.

Build quality is excellent, giving the impression that this is a machine that will last you for years without problems.

We disliked

It's heavy – for a tablet, at least. At 1.2kg, and twice the weight of the iPad 2, this is a machine you're going to want to rest on your desk rather than your arm for long periods. The bulky proportions don't help matters here.

The battery life is terrible. While we accept that this is due to the high-performance CPU and large screen, it doesn't make it a particularly easy pill to swallow.

Windows 7 hasn't been designed for tablets, and it really shows. Even simple tasks prove difficult when you're using the end of your finger to select something, as opposed to a carefully controlled mouse pointer.

Performance is still somewhat patchy at times, which given the focus on high-end specification and price is frustrating.

Verdict

Given the current tech love affair with the more consumer-oriented tablets, it's good to see Asus offer something for serious tablet users. For that market there's plenty of good decisions at play here, and as a productive device, it's particularly impressive in the hands of artists and designers.

Unfortunately, while there's plenty of poke in this machine, it doesn't quite do enough to make it worth considering outside of its intended niche. Part of this problem is down to how Windows works, and how while it does offer great compatibility, its foibles are too great compared to the latest Android 3.0 and iOS machines.