We got some hands-on time with the Asus Eee Pad Slider tablet at the IFA consumer electronics show, to see if the company can replicate the success of its Eee Pad Transformer.
Like the Transformer, the Slider - which was announced way back at the start of the year, but which has yet to launch in the UK - is a marriage of keyboard and Android-powered tablet. Unlike the Transformer, however, it manages to achieve that in a single unit.
As the name implies, the Slider slides the keyboard - which is stored behind the screen in normal usage - outwards when you need to type, with the rear half of the tablet's casing forming a stand which holds the display at a reasonably comfortable angle.
The keyboard, naturally, is somewhat cramped. Unlike the Transformer, which has the entire tablet's surface to turn into a keyboard, the Slider only has the front half. Its island-style keys were comfortable to use, however, and we didn't miss the lack of a trackpad - another feature the Transformer has over its single-piece brother.
Folded, the Slider feels somewhat chunky, but no more so than some other tablets we've handled, with the overall thickness and weight about equalling the HP TouchPad. For those used to the svelte iPad 2 or Samsung's contentious Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Slider is going to feel distinctly uncomfortable - and its relatively large bezel surrounding the screen doesn't help matters.
With that said, the Slider is still an impressive device. As with the Transformer, Nvidia's Tegra 2 chip keeps things zipping along, and the screen is bright and clear. Bundling the keyboard into the main unit does mean that you lose the extra eight hours of battery life the Transformer's stand-alone keyboard grants you, but makes it a lot more convenient for day-to-day use.
Sadly, our biggest concern with the Transformer - a custom-fit charging and data cable which you can't buy a replacement of for love nor money, coupled with very thin wiring that doesn't feel particularly robust - is also true for the Slider, but at least means that the two devices can share accessories.
Thus far, Asus is keeping quiet on when it plans to bring the Slider to the UK.