The Acer Iconia Tab has been here for over a month now. Bought as a Clovertrail test device it has turned into a surprisingly usable and flexible ultra-mobile PC. The Acer W510 might be using the same Atom core as netbooks did but the package here is far more than that both in terms of computing and usage flexibility. Read on for the full review of the Acer Iconia W510 and a summary of where this ground-breaking style of smart and ultra mobile PC fits into the market.
Two devices recently stood out as a different kind of productivity solution, both offering the ability to convert between a tablet and a netbook. The choice is between the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and the Acer Iconia W500. The Eee Pad runs Android Honeycomb while the Acer runs windows 7.
Both offer the ability to convert from a 10 inch tablet to a laptop style device with a keyboard and mouse. The Asus has a multitouch trackpad while the Acer has a pointing stick style mouse mover.
The units are comparable in features, specs and pricing. The main difference? Windows versus Android, and perhaps battery life. 4 hours for a tablet is pretty ordinary and no where near the Eee Pad’s 10 to 17 hours as a tablet or attached to the dock.
I miss OneNote and that makes me consider Windows tablets but while I could handle 3-4 hours battery life in the old days I’ve now been spoiled by modern day tablets and even netbooks or smaller latops like the Vaio T series which give 7+ hours easily and sometimes more than 10.
Evernote on Android has come a long way as well and while it lacks some of OneNote’s Office suite integration it is now a much more powerful note-taking tool.
One design issue is that the Acer W500 cannot be folded like a laptop while joined to the dock.You have to detach the tablet part, close the docking connector and then clip the tablet over the keyboard. It seems a little ill thought out and since we’re so used to closing up our devices in this way, it may lead to damage.
I disagree with reviews that argue Windows 7 isn’t touch or tablet friendly and in fact I’d say it is the best windows yet for tablet and touch use. But the Iconia doesn’t have a an active or pen enabled screen. It’s capacitive touch and that removed the last killer feature that would have made me buy it. The strength for me of OneNote on a tablet (and even Office as a suite) is that you can ink in it. Without the ability to use a “proper” pen, the Iconia W500 becomes just another tablet, with less battery life and all the issues of Windows including susceptibility to hacking and virus attacks and lacking the advantages of cheap, productivity enhancing apps. So it’s the Asus transformer for me.
Sascha joined me in the studio last night for a full-on 3.5hr marathon testing and discussion session with 10 different tablets. The iPad2, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Acer Iconia Tab A500, HTC Flyer, Blackberry Playbook and Samsung Galaxy Tab were the focus of our efforts and we recorded three parts of the live session for you to view below.
The Blackberry Playbook impressed with its smooth UI, video handling and gestures. The Flyer beat the other 7” tablets in a browsing test (and is as fast as any Tegra2 + Honeycomb browser I’ve tested.) The Galaxy Tab was crowned the value-for-money king and in the 10” category, we couldn’t really find a winner. The iPad2, of course, just sits in a special space all on its own and isn’t truly challenged by the 10” Android devices although as Honeycomb and Honeycomb-optimised apps start for mature, that could change., especiall when we look to lightweight hardware like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Anyway, here are the videos. We hope you enjoy them. All products are owned by Sascha or myself.
The Acer Iconia Tab A500, a 10” Honeycomb tablet arrived today and, as per the ‘law’ I unboxed it straight away for you.
Interestingly, it crashed during the first tests! I was messing with an external keyboard at the time but that wasn’t expected. I also found out that there’s only one language installed and that the media player can’t handle WMV or DivX files that I had on a USB stick. Not a good start.
The build quality is impressive though and as you can see in this image, I did manage to get the Samsung Q1 keyboard working with it. The mouse didn’t work.
The screen has good viewing angles and the speakers are reasonable too. Set-up was, as always with Android, a breeze and working down in my studio I was able to see hotspots that I don’t usually see so the Wifi seems strong.
I’ll leave it there for the time being as we’ve got a live session running with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 this evening where we’ll find out everything there is to know. We’ll record some of the session and get it written up for you in a first-impressions post at the weekend.
Honeycomb tablets are starting to filter-in so naturally, I need a permanent device to test upgrades and new applications with. There are three models available in Europe (my location) at the moment.
The Motorola Xoom is a tablet that I’m personally not that impressed with. At 580 Euros for the Wifi version that doesn’t have a working microSD card slot yet I think it’s way too expensive. Prices will come down fast of course, (MRRP is 629 here so discounting has already started) but today, it’s not the device I would choose.
I had an order in for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer which I think is one of the more interesting options. At 422 it’s offering much the same as the Xoom for a much more realistic price. Unfortunately, stock is limited and my order got pushed out into June. I cancelled.
The third device on the market is the Acer Iconia Tab A500. It has been available for a few weeks in various geographic locations and when I saw it available for 499 Euros and with 24hr delivery (32GB version) I jumped at the chance.
Details on the Acer Iconia Tab A500 are available through our product page. (click right) and we’re please to see DLNA and 32GB of storage.
The Acer Iconia Tab A500 (not the AMD/Windows based W500) looks like its taken second place in the race to get Honeycomb tablets to the streets. There’s no more waiting in Taiwan because our friends Sascha and Nicole from netbooknews (German site) have already bought one! Sascha wrote in his german site this morning that he’s on his way to get one for the equivalent of 429 Euro and in a recent tweet he says – “Erste Eindruecke vom Acer Iconia Tab A500: Absolutes Schnaeppchen und einer der zukuenftigen Android 3.0 Bestseller!” which means his first impressions are that it’s an absolute bargain and a future best seller. Strong words Sascha. JKK and I will be questioning you about it in this weeks MeetMobility podcast (Live Friday, 11am Berlin time)
We’ll update with the unboxing video from the netbooknews team after it airs, we suspect, later today. What we already know though is at that price, Acer is once again doing a great job of shaking up pricing. European availability is expected in a week or two in the 399-430 Euro range.
I’ve been through the details with a fine toothcomb and on one had I’m quite excited about a sub 1KG tablet with an acceptable CPU, good GPU, hi-res wide-view screen, UMTS and docking station for 599 Euro (current average online prices, Germany) but when you look at the weight / battery life ratio, it isn’t that good. Acer have only managed to squeeze in a 36Wh battery which means you’re looking at 3-4hrs usable battery life. Add the dock (which doesn’t look like it’s built for the road!) and you’re up over 1.5KG.
Taken as a tablet only, it actually looks like an interesting proposition. With CPU power up at the top end of the netbook range and GPU that blows away anything based purely on Intel netbook platforms it should perform smoothly. 2GB of RAM and Windows Home Premium give it media serving capability. Throw in the UMTS/HSDPA and it gets even more exciting.
At the end of the day, and specifications list, I’ve a feeling that this is going to work well as a hot-desking solution. It should serve well as a home desktop for anyone not getting involved with hundreds of browser tabs or video editing and the grab-and-go capability means it can be used in a more casual manner now and again. It looks fun too!
For UMPC fans though, it’s just too heavy. An upgraded 1.25KG Asus 1015PN with 6hr battery would be a much better choice for true mobile computing.
I’ve just shot a video of the Iconia A100 tablet here at MWC and its an interesting one. Tegra 2, Honeycomb, 5MP AF cam, gyroscope, hdmi outand possible 3g. No word on pricing or timescales. This could make a great mobile gaming device.
Video coming later.