Meet Asus' Eee Slate
In the world of tablet PCs, there are two form factors: slates and convertibles. The presence of an attached keyboard is the defining difference. Slates rely almost exclusively on a digitizer in order to translate gestures from a pen or touchscreen. Convertibles feature attached keyboards that let you type as you would on a notebook. Unfortunately for true road warriors, convertibles are often larger and heavier than slates.
The Eee PC is a slate-style tablet PC, which makes it more analogous to the iPad 2 and Android-based tablets. However, tablet PCs in general are bulkier because they employ mobile x86 hardware instead of the embedded SoCs that you find in tablets.
|iPad 2 (3G)||Xoom||Iconia A500||Eee Slate|
|Weight||1.33 lb||1.5 lb||1.65 lb||2.56 lb|
These days, just about every display seems to be widescreen. Asus's Eee Slate is no exception, which is why you'd find yourself mostly holding the tablet PC in landscape mode. Sure, you'd lose a lot of horizontal workspace in portrait mode. But also, all of the buttons are on the left side, which makes them more difficult to access when you choose to operate the device vertically.
If we were going to make a design nitpick, Asus could have gone without the rubber covers over the USB ports. With time, these things tend to tear off. More immediately, though, they fit super tightly. You almost need a flat-head screwdriver to open them up, and that's quite a nuisance when you want to quickly transfer files to a USB flash drive.
Despite the grille up front, speakers are actually on the Slate's side. Vents on the back of the unit prevent the Eee Slate from overheating.
Most people are right-handed, which is why placement of the vents seems slightly odd. Slates require one hand free for navigation. But if you're right-handed, your left hand is going to cover the vent when you hold it.
Overall, the design is fairly simple. The silver trim in front and white casing on the back are made of ABS plastic. As a result, the tablet PC is about as dent-resistant as a notebook (compared to tablets like the iPad 2 encased in scratchable aluminum alloys). And while Asus doesn't include a rear-facing camera, the front-facing 2.0 MP webcam is similar to what you'd find on any current notebook or tablet.