Asus Eee Pad Slider pictures and hands-on

There is much debate over whether you want a tablet, a netbook, a laptop, or maybe even a tablet with a keyboard, and we can assume that Asus have been chewing the fat over this one too. Not content with launching a standard tablet in the guise of the Asus Eee MeMo, and a tablet with a bolt on keyboard in the guise of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Asus have launched the Eee Pad Slider, a tablet that reveals a QWERTY keyboard beneath it when you push the screen back and upwards.

It slid into our view at CES in Las Vegas so we could check out whether it's a concept that should have stayed on the drawing board.

The new Eee Pad Slider weighs 886 grams, is 16.7mm thick and comes with Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core processor. The operating system is Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) although like all the Android Asus devices on show on CES in Las Vegas it was running Android 2.2 (Froyo).

What you will see though is the Asus WaveShare experience. WaveShare brings with it plenty of dedicated apps like an ebook reader as well as funky feature like a battery meter and accelerometer built into the wallpaper if that’s your thing.  The higher the water level the more battery power you have left. It’s clever.

You’ll also get Adobe Flash 10.1 support so you can “enjoy the full experience of the web” and the Tegra chip makes light work of running apps and using the device.

Spec wise you’ll get a 10.1-inch IPS touch-screen, built-in digital cameras on the front (1.2MP) and rear (5MP), and optional onboard 3G allows for go-anywhere internet access.

The Chiclet keyboard when revealed is easy to use, has a nice amount of resistance to the keys and features dedicated Android shortcut keys dotted around the standard QWERTY layout. That means you get Home, Menu, Search and back.

The problem however with the Asus Eee Slider is revealing that keyboard. The 10.1-inch screen while light is still too heavy to easily push back into place without having to hold down the keyboard some how. That would be fine if you could get to the keyboard before you slid the screen but you can’t so you have to go through this strange ripping motion to get the device open. It’s not pretty and its not easy.

For this to work effectively the mechanism needs to be so smooth that you could do it with your thumbs, trouble is, that just isn’t going to happen regardless of the caveat that this was a pre-production sample.

That lack of engineering build quality for us is a really blow and one that makes us feel the Eee Pad Transformer would be the better option.

The Asus Eee Pad Slider is expected out in May.