Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

Reviews 8 Apr, 2011

Windows 7 may be great on a desktop or laptop, but it can be infuriating on a tablet as Alan Lu finds out with the new Acer Iconia Tab W500.

1
Price: 
£359
ex VAT
Verdict: 
The Acer Iconia Tab W500 is the worst tablet we've seen so far. It's heavy, battery life is short, the touchscreen interface is incredibly frustrating and the optional keyboard dock isn't very comfortable to use. To add insult to injury the W500 is also expensive at £359 ex VAT for the tablet alone or £423 ex VAT bundled with the keyboard. If you want to run legacy Windows programs on a portable touchscreen computer with a keyboard, Panasonic's admittedly much more expensive ToughBook CF-C1 is a better choice. If you can live without Windows, the Apple iPad 2 is cheaper and better designed although you have to live with Apple's software limitations.

Most of the tablets released in the wake of the iPad 2 have used Google's Android operating system. Acer's latest tablet, the Iconia Tab W500, is an exception since it uses Windows 7 instead. That's not the only thing that sets it apart from other tablets – it's the first computer of any kind we've seen to use a new AMD Fusion processor and it can dock with a keyboard, effectively turning into a netbook.

Physically, the most immediately noticeable thing about the W500 is its weight. At just under 950g it’s very heavy for a tablet and is roughly a third heavier than the 601g iPad 2. This heftiness makes holding it a strain even after short periods of time, especially single handed. It's still lightweight enough to carry around easily in a bag though.

The W500 is also quite chunky, although this is because it has some useful ports onboard. There are two standard USB2 ports for connecting flash drives and other peripherals, as well as a HDMI port for connecting a high definition TV or projector. There's also a SDHC card slot for copying photos from a digital camera's card or simply for adding more storage.

Depending on the size of the data and programs you want to install on the W500, you may need to add a SD card sooner rather than later. The 32GB SSD may sound large, but Windows 7 and the bundled copy of Microsoft Office Starter 2010 leaves just 10GB of space for your own data which is not a lot. It's also worth remembering that some Windows programs can only be installed on the boot disk.

Although it's not the brightest tablet screen we've seen, the W500's 10in screen is bright enough and image quality is acceptable. The 1,280x800 pixel resolution is large and allows you to use two applications side-by-side with ease, a capability neither Android nor iOS has.

Specifications: 

Display: 1,280 x 800 pixels, 10.1in

OS: Windows Home Premium 32-bit

Camera: five megapixels rear-facing, two megapixels forward-facing

GPS: N/A

Processor: 1GHz AMD Fusion C-50

RAM: 2GB

Bluetooth: None

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n

Connectivity: None

Storage: 32GB internal SSD

Ports: 2 x USB2, 1 x HDMI (2 x USB2 and 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet on keyboard dock)

Slots: SDHC slot

Dimensions: 275 x 15 x 190 mm (275 x 38 x 90 mm with keyboard dock) (WxDxH)

Weight: 946g (1.56kg with keyboard dock)

Battery: Lithium Ion (mAh not stated)

BENCHMARKS

IMAGE 23

VIDEO 20

MUTLIPLE APPLICATIONS 12

OVERALL 18

POWER CONSUMPTION

SLEEP 1W

IDLE 10W

ACTIVE 17W

BATTERY LIFE

LIGHT USAGE 6h49m

H.264 PLAYBACK 4h55m