Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

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.

The keyboard dock does have other benefits though. There's another pair of USB2 ports as well as a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet port. When disconnected, the two can be folded together and held in place magnetically for ease of transport. Unfortunately, the combined weight of the two balloons to just over 1.5kg and it's very thick too.

The W500 is the first computer we've seen, tablet or otherwise, that comes with one of AMD's new Fusion processors, the 1GHz C50. This combines the CPU and graphics processor onto one chip which should boost performance and reduce power consumption. However, even with 2GB of RAM, it couldn't play high definition video smoothly, whether stored locally or streamed from YouTube. Overall, it's roughly the same speed as an Intel Atom-equipped netbook, so it's not well suited for running demanding applications.

We could put up with the W500's numerous shortcomings if the battery life was long, but even here the W500 is disappointing. In our light usage web browsing test it lasted just under seven hours. This is long compared to 15in laptops, but most netbooks and some ultra-portable laptops can last as long as ten hours. When playing H.264 video, the battery ran for just under five hours. This might seem impressive at first glance, but it pales in comparison to the iPad 2 which lasted 17 hours in the same test. The bottom line is that you'd need to keep the charger close by when using the W500 just so it doesn't ran out of battery power when you need it most.

So what's our verdict?

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.

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

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