Overview & Design
Not Your Typical Tablet
Lately, when anyone mentions the word "tablets", two brands come to mind: Apple and Google. The former made a name for itself with the Apple iPad (and now iPad 2), paving the way to the resurrection of the tablet category. Google offers up an alternative choice with its Android operating system, bringing a refreshed approach on the Honeycomb variant (versions 3.x).
But not all tablets are synonymous with these two operating systems. While Acer has chosen Google's open-source OS for the Acer Iconia Tab A500, the company isn't keeping all its eggs in one basket. Its Windows 7 variant, the Acer Iconia Tab W500, was launched alongside its Android cousin, hoping to gain a bigger piece of the tablet market share.
However, prior experiences with Windows 7 on tablets haven't yielded praises for this particular combination. Is the Acer Iconia Tab W500, with its AMD C-50 1.0GHz dual-core Fusion processor, integrated Radeon HD6250 graphics and 2GB of DDR3 memory going to be any different? To answer that question, we'll start off with a cursory examination of its aesthetics.
Out of the box, the W500 looks very much like a netbook, or to be more precise, a very thick netbook. Its thick profile isn't a good match with the compact footprint of its 10.1-inch display. The benefit from this arrangement is two full-sized USB ports that are found on the sides.
The shocking revelation when we tried to bring up the screen, is how the unit immediately fell apart and separated into the tablet and keyboard components. Should you wish to close the W500, you have to separate the unit from the dock, flip the connector down, and fix the display with the slider lock. Not exactly an intuitive process to prep the tablet/netbook for usage or stowaway.
Thanks to its relatively thick profile, the W500 includes some much needed connectors. This includes the full-sized USB port to expand your storage options and even attach a USB mouse to ease the overall usage on the W500. And if you find yourself straining to read off the 10.1-inch display, there's the option to connect the tablet to a HDTV via its HDMI port.
Besides the earlier mentioned thick profile, the W500’s near 1kg weight for just the tablet component (970 grams to be exact) makes it one of the heaviest tablets recently launched. In short, it feels overly heavy for our liking, which is especially true when you hold it in one hand while the other attempts to navigate the Windows 7 interface on the W500. This essentially means that you won't want to hold onto the tablet for a prolonged period of time which might leave your arms aching.
Ultimately, the tablet is sufficient on its own. Your typical activities such as web surfing, videos and music can do without the keyboard. Yet, from what we've experienced, it seems like its usage is more fitting of a traditional netbook, with the keyboard dock totaling its overall weight to 1.35kg, further reinforced with the Windows OS usage and the AMD Fusion platform powering it. Let's take an even closer look over the next few pages to see if it can shed off this initial feeling.