When I needed a replacement for my laptop I had a few choices to make, Notebook sized screen? 15” screen? Widescreen? were all things I thought about, one thing I hadn’t thought about until I saw the range was touchscreen. I found an Acer Iconia W500 (the W stands for Windows, see If you can guess what the A500 had on it?) This little machine ticked all the right boxes for me, small, portable and I love the sound the Chiclet style keyboard makes but that’s an entirely different conversation.
I fell in love with the machine the moment I saw it sat on the shelf screaming “BUY ME!” I had a play with it, moved on to an Acer transformer with Android then onto a few ‘classic’ laptops and right on back to the Iconia no matter how much I looked at anything else I always came back to it. I had people falling over themselves to say that Windows wasn’t designed for a touchscreen and that battery life would let it down (more on that later) but I was undeterred I wanted it and I was going to have it!
You can buy the Iconia as just the tablet forgoing the keyboard altogether but I am using it at the moment to write this review which lets face it would take a long long time with the Windows onscreen keyboard.
The Iconia Tab does look allot like your standard run of the mill netbook when put together on its keyboard dock which for fills its purpose of being a keyboard really quite well, no frills but a keyboard is a keyboard, one great thing about it is the fact that it has, within it, no moving parts. It has no fans and chucks out no heat which makes it good to use on your lap.
The keyboard has a standard USB socket hidden away when the keyboard is not in use which folds up and allows the tablet to dock with it and two sturdy metal bars to keep in from snapping clean off if you drop it, which I wouldn’t want to put to the test no matter how thorough this review aims to be! The keyboard houses one USB port and an Ethernet port. There is no Ethernet port on the tablet itself. I find the combination of keyboard and touchscreen great input methods and often find myself tapping on the screen where i want the curser rather than moving the mouse to it and it all felt really quite natural.
The mouse is a small nub between the g, h and b keys – we are talking pretty old school here. I’ve turned up the mouse sensitivity and have no problems at all with the mouse the two mouse buttons were a little fiddly to reach at the first few attempts but now I don’t even have to look down. The only thing I miss about a track pad is the ability to tap to click.
Having the screen, somewhat obviously, with all the components inside and nothing in the keyboard gives the Iconia its main problem which to be honest is quite the fundamental flaw. The keyboard weighs very little and the screen quite a lot more making it very top heavy and prone to tipping if your not sat straight, that being said I am typing this with the whole thing on my knee and there are no problems at all. Tip it slightly forward however and you end up with a screen flying towards you, I have picked it up to move locations on a few occasions and it has hit me in the chest after the keyboard folds in. Same problem if you use it on an uneven surface like a bed.
The great answer to instability on the aforementioned not-quite-flat surfaces is also its greatest feature, remove it from the dock and you have a tablet PC loosing none of the functionality a full Windows environment offers, the speakers are also in the back of the tablet. The touch screen feels good and is very responsive, the first thing I did out if the box was give it a once over with some Brasso Gadget Clean to try to keep finger marks at bay.
The Windows environment is not touch friendly, or so I keep being told. I find I don’t have any problems doing the day to day things that I want it to do and when I have the keyboard removed I am normally just Stumbling the web, writing a quick message to people or browsing Facebook. Tap for left click, tap and hold for right click the onscreen keyboard is ok but I cant help wanting it to be like the Ipad keyboard just that little bit bigger but being a full windows environment there are many more keys needed. I cant wait to see what Windows 8 will be like on this and will be creating another review for Windows 8 on a touch device.
I suppose the nearest comparison that I own would be the Ipad below are some comparison pictures of the side by side.
The bevels are almost identical and are useful for holding it they do however look a little out of place with it docked, in a dark room it looks like you just have the wrong resolution set. The tablet has both front and rear cameras.
People ask why I wanted a touchscreen PC when I have an Ipad and the answer is simple really, The Ipad is great for media consumption. I can load up website and have a quick look, I can pull up flipboard and peruse the social network sites like a digital magazine and I can watch BBC Iplayer – Trying to create media on the other hand is a nightmare, typing this on an Ipad I think I would have given up by now and the amount of times I have been knocked back from what I have wanted to do because or no Flash, no Facebook chat (although looking to be rectified in the upcoming Facebook for Ipad app) no native MSN messenger and inability to upload (such as a CV to a job site) and a few other small niggles.
The Computer comes with HDMI out, Ethernet, USB ports an SD card slot, volume rocker on the side, windows button at the bottom left and a charger port on the bottom right
The Specs are Notebook standard which isn’t bad considering it is a tablet.
AMD C-50 Dual Core (1GHz FSB, 1MB Cache)
10″ (Acer Multi-Touch, 1280×800 Resolution)
Windows 7 Home Premium Edition
Integrated Front + Back (1.3MP (Front) + 1.3MP (Back))
Wireless (802.11b/g/n WiFi)
Some of the paraphernalia that came with the laptop were recovery CDs (yes CDs, given no optical drive wouldn’t it be easier to include a small USB drive?) manuals, which were very high quality and some warranty info
and finally the experience index
All in all not a bad little machine, a netbook with a touchscreen is the best way to sum it up I believe. Anything anyone wants more details on ask in the comment, I have lived with it for a few months now and wouldn’t change it for anything, but for the price you can get an awful lot of laptop.