Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

Can a Windows 7 tablet with keyboard replace the netbook?

Acer Iconia Tab W500 review
The Acer Iconia Tab W500 runs Windows 7 and has an optional keyboard dock

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Excellent compatibility

  • +

    Great screen

  • +

    Versatile performance


  • -

    Windows 7 isn't for tablets

  • -

    Poor screen rotation redraw

  • -

    Insubstantial keyboard dock

  • -

    It's pricey!

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Tablet or notebook? It's a question not only for the new Acer Iconia Tab W500, but for anyone looking to buy a new portable PC at the moment.

Tablets are clearly all the rage; you only need to look at the excitement surrounding the launch of the Apple iPad 2. Many perceive these tablets as holding the key to moving mobile computing forward.

The problem is, tablets aren't particularly productive devices. They're about watching movies or listening to music. They're about surfing the web on your sofa, or reading a book in a hammock. Tablets are about entertainment. They're rarely about actually creating the content that they are consuming.

Anyone looking to do work or create content on the move is generally limited to using a standard computer.

acer iconia tab w500

There is a place for showing reports using a tablet, or for extreme working conditions where a keyboard isn't practical, but in the most part, we're limited to netbooks and notebooks.

This is something Acer is looking to challenge with the release of the Iconia Tab W500. Here is a machine that bridges the gap between the aesthetics of a tablet and functionality of a netbook.

This 10.1-inch tablet not only ships with a keyboard dock (which costs £80 extra - £529 with keyboard, £449 without it) to afford it more sensible working credentials, but it also comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, which means you can use all the applications that you use on a normal desktop on the Iconia Tab W500 without any more fuss.


There's no need here to learn how to fight your away around an unwieldy app store full of unknown names. This machine will handle the applications, utilities and tools that you know and love - the likes of Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as media players such as VLC, and security programs like McAfee AntiVirus Plus.

There are no worries about whether it supports Flash or Java either, as they just work. It has no problems running with system specific plug-ins either, as the likes of Unity simply install and run flawlessly too.

And while Apple may be crowing about the capabilities of the new PowerVR graphics engine in the iPad 2, there are still slim pickings when it comes to actual games that fully exploit the machine.

acer iconia tab w500

The PC however is awash with great games, including some of the finest titles ever created on any platform - Half Life 2, Diablo and Civilization to name but a few. And all these games will run on the Iconia Tab W500.

This makes the decision to side with Microsoft for the operating system compelling, although this isn't the only option out there. Apple's iOS isn't about to appear on a third party machine, but the imminent release of Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) for tablets must surely have tempted Acer as well. While it lacks the straight compatibility that Microsoft Windows OS offers, it does potentially make for a more suited OS for day-to-day tasks.