Hands on: Acer Iconia review

acer iconia

While the Acer Iconia is undoubtedly an exciting piece of kit, we don't think it quite matches up to the promise of Microsoft's Courier concept.

For a start, it's one bulky mother of a laptop. At 2.8kg it's hardly portable, and isn't that the point of a touchscreen tablet device?

Sure this isn't a tablet like the Apple iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but why remove the keyboard and mouse, add a touchscreen keyboard, and then put it all together in a device exactly the same size and weight of a standard office laptop?

It makes no sense to us. Navigating the web using Internet Explorer in Windows 7 cannot get any easier than using a keyboard and mouse. Introducing touch into the equation simply makes things more difficult.

We really like the Acer Ring overlay, and the scrapbooks and journals are a really interesting and new way of digesting your daily helping of web info. But is it easier than just putting some shortcuts in your favourites bar in Firefox? We have our significant doubts.

Decent software

The software that Acer has put together for this product is fantastic. It works well, and barring the odd bit of lag, which we can probably put down to this being an incomplete prototype, it does a good job of living up to the promise of Microsoft Courier.

The onscreen keyboard is nice, and the customisations are a nice touch. It's also really cool to have a web page spreading across two top-to-bottom screens.

Improvements needed

The three-hour battery life is a bit of a joke. Running a Core i5 CPU simultaneously with two bright touchscreens is always going to be extremely taxing on any battery. Acer could no doubt have put a bigger battery in, but that would have made the product even heavier. The whole thing reeks of compromise.

That leads us to the form factor, which is also an enormous drawback – it's just too big, heavy and cumbersome. To be a truly revolutionary product, the Iconia needed to be smaller, slimmer – portable basically. And portable this ain't.

The other major inevitable drawback is the inclusion of Windows 7. It's just not an operating system that's ever going to lend itself to an intuitive touch experience.

The Acer Ring overlay is slick, but as soon as you have to go back into the regular Windows interface, the joy ends and the pain begins.

The final glaring omission is the ability to swivel the top screen round and fold it back down to create a tablet. This feature is already included in so many touchscreen tablets out there, it's just so disappointing that Acer has left it out.

Oh, and did we mention the price?

Initial impressions:

The Acer Iconia is going to be big. In fact, it might well be massive. But it's not going to be this version. It might not even be version two that really hits the spot.

Acer is going to have to slim things down, improve battery life and ditch Windows 7 before this becomes anything like a usable, mass market product.

Maybe when Microsoft has launched its embedded touch OS, there will be a proper platform for products like this to thrive on. But until then, while there are lots of things to like about the Iconia, there are currently too many things to improve.

Check out T3's exclusive video of the Acer Iconia