Asus Eee Pad Slider Honeycomb Tablet Review

Software, Camera and User Experience

Software wise, there's not a lot here that hasn't been experienced elsewhere. Unlike HTC, which loads their "Sense" overlay onto Android, or Samsung that does similar with TouchWiz, Asus hasn't fiddled with Android too much. We actually are fond of "vanilla" Android installations, as there is no overlay to potentially consume resources or otherwise get in the way. Android 3.2 ships on the Slider, with the only Asus "customizations" being a unique live wallpaper (with an ice water backdrop that doubles as a visible battery life indicator), Polaris Office, MyNet/MyLibrary and a few other minor applications. All in all, we're applauding Asus for taking a mostly hands-off approach.

With Android 3.2 onboard, you'll find the new Music Beta application as well as access to YouTube Movies, Books, a legitimate Gmail application, etc. At this point, however, it's all par for the course. You know what to expect with Honeycomb on a tablet -- plenty of resizable widgets for email, calendar, news, YouTube, etc., as well as a number of home panes and access to the Android Market. But the real question is this: how does the Slider handle the OS?

The 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 is more than capable of handling high-def video playback, fast app switching and all the typing your tired fingers could ever do on the built-in keyboard. The overall experience was brisk and pleasant, and we won't hesitate to say that this is one of the smoothest overall Android tablet experiences that we've had to date. Everything felt streamlined, and it truly felt as if the software and hardware were married to one another. Asus' close relationship with NVIDIA probably helped here, at least in terms of optimization.

The keyboard inputs were recognized immediately -- no lag whatsoever. Even when we had multiple applications loaded up, a quick keystroke would fire up a Google search or input text into whatever line we had selected. It still doesn't feel exactly like a "real" notebook without a "real" desktop-level operating system to go with it, but this unit comes as close as anything we've seen since the Transformer.

The web browsing experience was as good as we've seen on an Android tablet. Pages loaded and rendered quickly, and even with 7+ tabs open, we never really felt as if the Slider was under duress. The camera app loaded quickly, our benchmarking apps loaded quickly. In fact, everything we did on the Slider felt fast.

The 1.2MP front-facing camera was sufficient for basic video chatting (though it was hardly ideal from a quality standpoint), while the 5MP camera on the rear is more suitable for taking photos. Granted, we've never really understood the allure of taking photos with a tablet, but since the sensor is here, we took a few sample shots with it. Not surprisingly, indoor and low-light performance was lacking, and colors were generally muted. There's also a heavy amount of grain, and the focus speed was on the slow side. It probably won't matter much to many; taking photos with a tablet has always been sub-optimal, but here are a few samples just to give you an idea of what the Slider is capable of.



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