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Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

Can a Windows 7 tablet with keyboard replace the netbook?

acer iconia tab w500

The keyboard cum docking station of the Iconia Tab W500 is an interesting idea.

The chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable to use and roomy. The inclusion of standard notebook function shortcuts is welcome, and if you're going to be doing any extended typing, it's a far more comfortable experience that using the onscreen keyboard - which under Windows 7 never quite seems to be the right size to be easy to use.

You'll find a pair of USB ports either side of the keyboard, along with an Ethernet port on the left-hand side of the machine.

acer iconia tab w500

We're less convinced about 'nipple' mouse though, and you'll be more tempted to tap the screen to get what you want. This does highlight a problem with the docked Iconia Tab W500 though, and that is it's back heavy in place, and rocks easily with the slightest touch.

acer iconia tab w500

There is a temptation with this design to fold the screen forward on top of the keyboard, but the holding mechanism doesn't support this, and will actually break the connectors if pushed.

acer iconia tab w500

The actual connection mechanism is fairly basic - the keyboard plugs into the Iconia Tab W500's single USB port and is held in place by a pair of prongs either side of this port. It's a simple design, but lacks the finesse of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

You can clip the keyboard in place on top of the screen for transportation, although this does add to the bulk considerably, so is unlikely to be something you'd want to do often.

acer iconia tab w500 keyboard

The keyboard dock and Windows 7 installation aren't the only shout out feature features for the Iconia Tab W500 though, as this is also the first outing for a new processor from AMD.

Specs

The blandly titled AMD T-50 may not sound like much, but it's actually a new member of the AMD Fusion processor family. This is a dual-core processor running at 1GHz. The CPU is a little underpowered compared to most normal notebooks, managing a score of 0.33pts in Cinebench 11 and 1.97fps using the X264 HD benchmark.

acer iconia tab w500

ACER RING: Acer includes its own software overlay, called Acer Ring, to access your media. It kept crashing for us though

Raw processor power has been sacrificed in order to keep the power usage down, and AMD claims a thermal design power (or TDP) of just 9W for the T-50.

That said, we only managed four and a quarter hours of battery life (258 minutes to be exact), out of the Iconia Tab W500 when playing back HD movies. You'll get up to twice that with less demanding tasks, but we would have expected more from the machine.

acer iconia tab w500

This is only part of the story for this Fusion chip though, as aside from the traditional processor core, AMD has also squeezed a Radeon HD 6250 graphics core into the processor as well.

This is a DirectX 11 GPU, which means that in theory at least, it can handle all of the latest games. In practice it lacks the raw power to do so, but it does produce reasonable enough performance to handle slightly older games at lower settings.

3DMark06 managed a score of 1,589, while the older 3DMark03 produced a result of 3,991. We even tried running a recent game on the Iconia Tab W500, Rift, which was playable at the minimum settings, which isn't to be sniffed at.

The Acer Iconia Tab W500 has a huge bezel, but does boast a beautiful 10.1-inch screen with a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels.

acer iconia tab w500 apple ipad

This is fine for watching back HD video, something that the Fusion T-50 processor ably coped with. Images are bright, colours vivid and the viewing angles are excellent (something that the Advent Vega can't claim). The sound quality is merely passable meanwhile, although there is a headphone jack if you want to listen to music or watch a film.

The rest of the specification is reasonable - there's 2GB of RAM as standard, along with 32GB of storage space for Windows and your files - not exactly a lot. WiFi support is integrated into the main unit, and wired Ethernet coming from the docking station.

acer iconia tab w500

We did find that the Wi-Fi connection was more prone to disconnects than other devices we've used though, and it kept dropping the connection as we moved around. It was much more stable in the dock.

When we first used the machine, there was a notable lagginess to every operation - even pressing the Windows Start button instigated a 3 second wait before the menu appeared. After a few updates, this behaviour disappeared and the machine was a lot more responsive in every area bar one.

acer iconia tab w500

Redrawing the display to accommodate a change in the orientation of the Iconia Tab W500 takes at least five seconds to redraw, which is infuriating. This will have you reaching for the orientation lock on the base of the unit, which does negate the usefulness of its tablet form factor somewhat.

A far more fundamental problem for Acer though, is that Windows 7 simply isn't designed for tablets. Yes it supports four touch points, but icons are too small, double-clicking isn't so easy, and the default Windows menu system is simply unworkable.

Acer has had a good stab at the hardware, but much of this is completely undermined by its choice of OS. Yes it offers great compatibility with your existing applications and data, but at an unsuitable cost to the end user experience.

With Windows 7 installed, the keyboard dock is the only real way to use the Iconia Tab W500, which negates its tablet leanings. After using the machine with Windows 7, it simply makes us lust after a Honeycomb version.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNet-tablet PC
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerAMD
Graphics Controller ManufacturerAMD
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon HD 6250
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Finger Print ReaderNo
Solid State Drive Capacity32 GB
HDMIYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyICONIA Tab W500P
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
Processor ModelC-50
Operating SystemWindows 7 Professional
Brand NameAcer
Form FactorHybrid
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeC-Series
Screen Size25.7 cm (10.1")
Number of Cells3-cell
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.58 kg
Cache1 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height19.5 mm
Width275 mm
Depth190 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesW500P
ManufacturerAcer, Inc
Product ModelW500P-C52G03iss
Product NameICONIA Tab W500P-C52G03iss Net-tablet PC
Product LineICONIA Tab
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberLE.L0803.027
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.acer.co.uk
Marketing Information

The 10.1" Acer ICONIA Tab W Series comes in a hybrid design that combines the portability of a multitouch tablet and the full productivity of a standard notebook. Enjoy hands-on multimedia using the touch capabilities, or attach the available dockable keyboard to quickly transform the tablet into a mini-workstation.

HD videos come alive on the 10.1" WXGA screen, which supports image auto rotation. An HDMI® port connects to projectors and HDTVs for big-screen enjoyment of HD media. A dual-core AMD processor with integrated graphics delivers smooth multitasking and Internet video, while Dolby® technologies provide great sound. A Bluetooth® 3.0 port transfers data ultra fast, and new-generation wireless keeps you connected. (And select models will offer 3G.)

Package Contents
  • ICONIA Tab W500P-C52G03iss Net-tablet PC
  • AC Adapter
  • Keyboard Dock