Acer Iconia Tab W500 review
A poorly executed and expensive attempt to create a hybrid of two popular form factors
Review Date: 31 Mar 2011
Reviewed By: David Bayon
Price when reviewed: £442 (£530 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
“PC or tablet? Choose both,” begins Acer’s description of its Iconia Tab W500, before going on to call its dual-function design “the best of both worlds”. The first of those two quotes is technically correct, but you’d have to be very new to mobile computing to come away agreeing with the second.
It isn’t that the concept is a bad one. The W500 is made up of two distinct elements: the 10.1in Windows 7 tablet and the removable keyboard dock, cleverly designed to fit perfectly together into the shape of a netbook when closed for carrying. A small latch on the front edge of the keyboard holds the two parts together like a traditional laptop lid, and as a whole it feels about as thick and weighty as a netbook from a year or two ago – a small price to pay for such flexibility.
Flip the latch, however, and rather than opening upwards like a laptop, the two segments simply come apart in your hands – a surprise that caused panicked fumbles as we handed it to unwitting test subjects. Instead, to make the necessary connection you have to open the flap behind the keyboard and slot the tablet into the USB dock that emerges.
In that mode, it functions much like any netbook. The base has a USB 2 port on either edge, along with an Ethernet socket for when you’re at your desk. To make room for the dock, the keyboard has shifted forward towards the user, occupying the space where once would have been a wristrest and trackpad. Instead you get a perfectly usable trackpoint, along with some rather skinny mouse buttons on the front edge. If your experience matches ours, you may find yourself clicking the space bar by mistake until you get used to the cramped layout.
It also performs much like a netbook. It has 2GB of RAM and an AMD C-50 processor, which unfortunately meant it aped the recent Toshiba NB550D in refusing to install Sony Vegas Pro 10. Disabling that element of our benchmarks, performance was almost identical to the Toshiba, putting it a shade behind an Atom netbook in everyday applications but quicker in media tasks. It also coped with the TrackMania Nations Forever 3D benchmark relatively well, averaging 18fps at Medium quality settings and the screen’s native 1,280 x 800 resolution. Finally, the battery gave us 5hrs 8mins of light use – distinctly average by netbook standards.
A little harsh!
I haven't had the opportunity to use this tablet/netbook but on the basis of your review I think your comments are a little harsh.
£450 for a 10" tablet isn't outrageous (the equivalent 32Gb iPad is £479 and not £399 as you report). £80 for a keyboard/dock is also a reasonable price.
I think this format has a lot of advantages, and a lot of people will be nervous to move directly to a tablet for mobile computing and will be more comfortable with a hybrid format.
The biggest advantage is that it has USB so storage is effectively unlimited.
Win7 might not be as easy to use as OS4 or android but most consumers will be familar with Win7 and it can use the same software they are used to on their PC.
I think we'll see more devices like this.
By ironbath on 1 Apr 2011
@ironbath: £80 for a *good* dock is just about a reasonable price. This isn't an £80 dock. It's poorly designed and feels cheap, which is so disappointing because the netbook dock is the only valid argument for the use of Windows 7.
Take the dock away and you have a £450 tablet with a non-tablet OS, weighing close to a kilo. It's not just a case of putting the screen size and capacity side by side with an iPad - what you get for the money with an iPad is in a totally different league to this.
I'm not against the hybrid concept. If the Asus Transformer does the same thing much better (and from what I've seen that looks likely), I'll be happy to give it a positive review. This Acer deserves the review it got.
By DavidBayon on 1 Apr 2011
Just listen to the thing...
I'm a computer reseller and frankly I'll never sell another Acer product as long as I draw breath. However, I've not seen this product but just listen to the (excellent) PC Pro podcast. You can hear the damn thing starting to rattle and making noises which suggest that the build quality is around Acer's usual standards; it's only been around a few offices and perhaps to Pret (but not Subway obviously).
I don't need to see this to know that it's pap - I've heard it and it sounds rotten.
By Lee_Grant on 1 Apr 2011
"£450 tablet with a non-tablet OS"
Tell that to the thousands/millions of people using Windows 7 on a tablet.
But.. I get your point.
By rhythm on 4 Apr 2011
great idea but seriously flawed execution
£530 inc VAT for a netbook! Pull the other one Acer. If I want to wait 2 minutes for Win 7 to boot etc etc, I'll buy a good spec laptop for £350. The whole point of a tablet is small, light, instant on and less than £300. Forget iPad prices, they're for Apple fanboys. Think Advent Vega or even Samsung Tab now you can buy one in Asda for £299.
By bigbollocks on 7 Apr 2011
Apples n Oranges
Android/iOS and Windows = Apples and Oranges, i.e. they are differenct systems for different hardware for diferent uses. I use both and have done for years. I could not conduct serious business on an Android tablet and do not enjoy couch surfing with a heavy Windows tablet. Each to their own.
By PinkySlayer on 15 Apr 2011
With a little tweaking here and there the W500 to boot to desktop in 35 seconds. I did try to post the link but it wasn't allowed.
Search for: tablet pc review forum
By rhythm on 22 Jun 2011
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