Asusâ€™ new tablet runs the desktop version of Windows and features a bright 12.1-inch display capable of handling multi touch as well. The display is LED backlit and packs the standard 1280 x 800 pixel display. Asus decided not to go with the weak Atom platform on this and opted the Intel Core i5-470UM processor for this baby. Tablets are not used on steady surfaces and thus hard disks are not ideal. The company went for the solid state drive so that your data (and OS, of course) remains safe.
The Asus EP121 comes in two storage capacities â€“ 32GB and 64GB. I would recommend getting the latter as Windows 7 takes up quite a lot of space. It has 4GB DDR3 RAM which means that it is probably one of the powerful slate till date. The screen is great and accepts multi touch gestures. But the best thing about the display is that it is pressure sensitive and is very precise since it is the first tablet to incorporate Wacomâ€™s tablet technology. My boyfriend (I am a girl) who is a digital artist used it for a while and fell in love with the display. It comes with standard connectivity options that you find in a notebook such as built in wireless, Bluetooth 3.0, 2MP camera, 2-in-one card reader and 2x USB 2.0 ports. Heck, there is even a mini HDMI port for connecting to an HDTV or a high resolution monitor. It feels great in hand thanks to leather-ish finish on its back, but it is a bit heavier than the iPad too â€“ weighing around 1.2kg.
I was amazed to see clean Windows 7 installation when I booted up the machine for the first time. The desktop was not brimming with shortcuts pointing to the nonsense trialware. The only pop up message that I got asked me to register the device. The tablet is so great and can be used for actual work and not just for media consumption like the iPad or the Samsungâ€™s Galaxy Tab. This is a real PC that can run your favorite CAD app, Adobe apps like Photoshop CS5, Dreamweaver CS5 and so on â€“ all that at a speed not experienced in netbooks. Here are its WEI scores:
- Processor: 5.6
- Memory: 5.6
- Graphics: 3.4
- Gaming Graphics: 4.9
- Primary Hard disk: 5.9
Here is PCMark Vantage test of the Core i5-470UM (compared with AMD E350 (comes in VAIO YB) and Atom D525 dual core processor:
The Core i5-470UM has two cores and supports both Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost technology. Up to 4 threads can be handled simultaneously. There are no discrete graphics on EP121 and you would not need one unless you are planning to play some heavy duty 3D games on it. Graphics department is handled by Intel HD graphics (clock rates varies between 166 – 500MHZ).
And of course, you can use it for doing social networking and web-browsing. EP121 supports pinch-to-zoom in apps like IE and picture viewer. Start up time was around 19 button (power button->desktop). Shut down was 16 seconds. Sleep and wake times were under 1 second. Now, something about its battery life. To be honest, I was not expecting it to yield more than 2 hours as it packs Core i5 and manages a big display, but I got a decent around 4.5 hours of productivity â€“ I repeat productivity, not silly movie watching. Of course, you can watch movies on it too but in that case, expect no more than 3.5 hours of runtime.
Connectivity / Wireless Radios
Unlike most of the tablets around, it comes with tonnes of ports which include mini HDMI, 2x USB 2.0 and card reader. To get all those on an iPad, you would require an adapter or extra accessory. However, we were shocked to find that there is no built in 3G modem. Have a good times using a tablet with a protruding USB 3G modem to get onto Internet while on-the-move.
Verdict – Asus EP121 is one of the best products we have reviewed so far. The possibilities are endless since it runs Windows 7 operating system and packs some serious computing power, thanks to the dual core Core i5 processor. It is great on the connectivity front too, but we did miss 3G radio. One thing that Asus should do is lower the price because at 999 dollars, there are going to be very few takers. If they drop it to somewhere around 600-700 dollar range, more people will opt EP121 instead of iPad.
Also check out: