ULP Review of Asus Slate EP121 (TabletPC)

Ill try to get a better picture uploaded soon

While I am fully entrenched in the iPhone bandwagon, I have not purchased an iPad (or a TabletPC)…or really anything else other than a standard laptop since I tried a LG Phenom, and a ZX81 (Timex Sinclair 1000) prior to that.  However, I recently took the plunge and picked up an Asus Slate EP121.

It is important to qualify my review by stating my intended purpose for the Asus Slate is as a laptop replacement with tablet functionality, *not* primarily as a tablet.  This unit is to be a work computer.  As such, it has to be powerful enough to run a full Windows 7, the complete Microsoft Office suite, etc.  I anticipate about a 70/30 mix of ‘laptop’/tablet usage in my everday work activities.  This, of course, subject to change during periods of travel like conferences and the like.

Specs as purchased ($1099, free shipping, free Microsoft Signature install)
Windows 7 Home Premium, Intel i5 Dual Core, Intel HD graphics, 12.1″ Gorilla Glass screen, 4GB Dual DDR3 RAM, 64GB SSD,  weight of 2.5 lbs, two (2) USB ports, mini-HDMI output, SD Card reader, 2MP (videoconferencing) camera.

Also came with:
Folio case (doubles as a stand as depicted above)
MS Mobile Bluetooth Keyboard 6000
Wacom Pen/Digitizer w/Eraser
Power supply with extra embedded USB charging port

Pros
*It is faster than my current (old) laptop Dell XPS M1530 in every measurable way, so its a clear upgrade for me
*I am already trying ways to incorporate the added Tablet & Stylus functionality into teaching, taking notes in meetings, etc. I really like the seamless integration of MS Office/PDFs/OneNote with the enhancements of the Wacom pen and the sprawling screen size to write comments, notes, etc. in an unobtrusive way (vs trying similar with touch laptop where it is a little less natural and you get the occasional arched eyebrow).  We will also be using tablets in some of our studies for consenting patients, getting baseline data & scores, etc.  and I anticipate fewer issues with data conversion and related issues since both systems are Windows-based.
*I haven’t had any problems with its touch interface so far…then again, my only real long-term comparator is the iPhone4
*Boot time is much faster than anticipated (<30 sec from pressing button to surfing the net) and hibernate mode works really well as it consumes almost no battery and launches in about 3 seconds
*I can’t imagine having any handheld device without a webcam for videoconferencing (e.g., meetings and teaching classes), as well as USB ports, and a video out…fortunately, this is not an issue with the Slate
*Turns out 2.5 lbs is lighter than I thought
*I can’t believe I am excited about a keyboard, but the one that came with it is *really* good; similar sentiment for the folio
*Embedded USB in power cord is nice touch, can plug in and simultaneously charge iPhone with just one plug at airport…minor issue, but appreciated
*The ArtRage software & stylus should allow for creation of some nice infographics

Cons
*The battery life is terrible. I mean, I knew it was low based on reviews and that in order to run 7 and to power the gi-normous bright screen that it would take juice, but…I tried a couple of different tests and read about similar online. Streaming Netflix over Wifi only yields about 2.5 hours.  Performing low demand work tasks, I can get about 4 hours out of it.  This is normally ok as I am using it as a work computer on my desk, but for travelling, etc. it would have been nice to have been able to get in two movies.
*64GB is nice and Asus offers free ‘unlimited’ cloud storage with it (and there is always SkyDrive, etc.); plus it has USB and SD, but I have 10GB on my laptop just in licensed stock photos – so no way the Slate will comfortably holding all my files.
*Had to get a Bluetooth mouse to fully replicate workstation
*If you are expecting instant-on, power-up you will be disappointed
*HDMI is nice, but will have to navigate the plentiful VGA machines

Verdict
It’s early days, but so far I am very happy with the Asus Slate.  I suspect people looking for a serious work machine with 7, Office, etc. plus the benefits of Tablet functionality will be happy with the Slate too.  Others simply looking for an alternative to the iPad to surf, read, and play Angry Birds on probably will not be.

Other People’s Opinions
The Aussie ZDNet/cnet site has a pretty good video review of the Asus Slate.  I think it was overly harsh on some aspects and I have no idea why they encountered any difficulty with connecting the Bluetooth keyboard – but they give a fair appraisal overall and had some glowing words about it, summed up by “this thing’s pretty damn good”.

Click to launch to video review

Elsewhere, one ‘enthusiast’ created the most comprehensive audio/video review I have ever seen for ANY product, luckily it is for the Asus Slate.  He has also been trying to answer questions about it, even prior to release in Canada.  My review will give you an indicator, but his site and Product Tour is a must visit if you are seriously considering purchasing an Asus Slate EP121.  Actually, even if you are not that serious, you should check out the thoroughness of this guy’s review.   Amazing.

Hope this helps. Obviously, I would be very interested to hear if you get an Asus Slate and/or about your experiences with one.

@kevinclauson

Disclosure: I did not receive any consideration for this review.  I did receive free overnight shipping that was available to anyone who goes to: http://www.facebook.com/windows and gets the code.  However, when I tried to use the Facebook code at the Microsoft store online, it  did not work.  So, then I clicked on the proffered Live Chat to ask about the code.  Chat told me I had to *call* customer service to ask them about it.  So, then I sent a tweet at “Matt at the Windows Social Media Team” about it and never heard back. Lost opportunity. Ironic.

Webicina Mobile – iPhone now, Android Later

Yesterday, during a lunch chock full o’ watching a live broadcast of a knee surgery from Swedish (courtesy @danamlewis) and checking out a group of smart, passionate folks talk about Women & HIV at the White House (including @SusannahFox), I indulged in a download of the new Webicina app for the iPhone.

For those of you unfamiliar with Webicina, it is one of the best examples of crowdsourced curation of health information I have seen.  At the most basic level, it is a list of resources, by medical specialty (for healthcare professionals) and health conditions (for patients).  Also, if you click on ‘About Us’ (top right in screenshot) from the main menu, it will provide a link to its PeRSSonalized Medicine feature, which has RSS-like functionality…except that a world of contributors has already done the work to pre-select menu items for you.  And it’s available in 17 languages. Oh, and it’s free.  Webicina  has been available online for a couple years, but now it’s available as an app on iTunes, and per its creator/curator Dr. @Berci Mesko, it will soon be available for Android.

I think the best value of Webicina may be that it is a central place to direct healthcare professionals who are looking to get their feet wet with social media/Web 2.0 or alternately, it is a good initial place to direct patients who are a bit overwhelmed from trying to dive into the pool of health information online.   The next best thing about Webicina?  If you think there is a great resource missing from the list, just click on the link to Webicina.com in the app and type it into the ‘suggest a site’ box for possible inclusion!

@kevinclauson

Scroll down for additional screenshots 

 

 

I poked around a bit on it earlier today.

Here are the menus for Medical Professionals and Patients

 

(And below is an enlarged iPhone screenshot of some of the resource types within a section)