Recently I was selected along with a few other travel bloggers to receive and review a new bit of kit from ASUS – the Eee Pad Slider. This is ASUS’ new hybrid tablet unit that sports a big 10.1 inch high resolution touchscreen, a slide out physical keyboard and Google’s Android OS.
I decided to find out – is this combination of an easy to use keyboard, good battery life and bright screen the best bit of tech you could take on your travels?
When you take out of the box and turn it on, the first thing you notice is the high resolution screen. It’s crisp, clear and nothing looks fuzzy or out of focus on it. It’s just bloody gorgeous and the colours are bright and vibrant. When you fire up Google Maps, everything looks really sharp, making the small fonts easy to read.
There’s a camera on both the front (1.2 megapixel) and back (5 megapixel) of the Slider. The front camera allows you to do Skype calls easily when you’re on the road, and the the back camera means you can snap photos and shoot video in HD with it.
Sliding the screen up from the base is easy and intuitive. You just pull the top of the unit away from itself and the hinge makes sure it props the screen up and reveals the keyboard underneath. It’s one of those motions that when you do it for the first time you think “oh, that was nice and easy”.
The physical hardware keyboard is pretty damn good for the size of the unit and comes in really handy when you need to do some typing. The keys are obviously smaller given the size of the unit and the layout is tighter than normal, but that’s to be expected. The spacebar can be a bit fiddly and you need to make sure you press it right in the centre otherwise it doesn’t press down properly.
Nevertheless, it’s useable enough that I’m banging out this blog post on it right now. It’s great for when you want to enter some text and go “a ha, I’ll just pop this keyboard out, job done!” and there’s no slow fumbling about on the on-screen keyboard required.
Using the Slider
This was my first foray into Google’s Android operating system. I’ve got a lot of mates that have Android powered smartphones, so I was keen to see how it would be to use on a tablet. Taking the Slider out of it’s box, it was super easy to setup. Just turn it on, connect to a wifi network, give it your Google account details and you’re away.
Getting around in Android is easy and smooth. On the home screen, ASUS have included a handy weather widget that shows the current temperature and conditions of your location and you can position your apps around the screen for easy access.
Navigation wise, there’s 3 soft buttons on the bottom left side of the screen to go back, to the home screen and open a screen that shows all your recent applications. On the right hand side of the bottom, the time, wifi connection and battery status are displayed.
Naturally as soon as I got it, I kitted the Slider out with travel apps from the Android Market. Here’s a few I installed so I could see how it would fair on the road:
- I installed TripIt for keeping track of my flight and accommodation bookings in the itinerary I created online earlier. Skyscanner was next, so I could check prices of flights I wanted to book later on.
- Google Maps is preloaded with Android and displays info about local transport, restaurant information (including ratings) and naturally utilises the GPS in the Slider.
- Twitter, Facebook and Skype for keeping in touch with everyone both at home and abroad. I also installed the Gmail app, Google Docs and Google Calendar for staying productive and Google Reader for reading some blogs when I’m on a bus or train.
- Evernote. I couldn’t live without this app now. It’s the best for taking notes with when I’m touring round cities. There’s apps on every mobile device as well as on the PC/Mac, so you’ve always got your notes handy.
- Lastly, I installed Spotify. Cos I couldn’t live without some sweet tuneage.
How does it fair for travel?
This is a great bit of kit to take away on short trips abroad. The lightness and small form factor of the Eee Pad Slider means you can easily slip it in your carry-on and use it for reading, watching movies and keeping your trip organised. The combination of the apps I mentioned above, the huge screen and slide out keyboard make it a great companion that will definitely mean I don’t need to take my laptop away with me again.
What’s your favourite piece of tech to take on your travels and why?
The ASUS Eee Pad Slider was provided complimentary to me by ASUS UK, but as I’m a critical bastard when it comes to tech, all opinions are my own.