|At a glance|
|Product||Acer Iconia Tab (W500) [Website]|
|Summary||Windows-based tablet bundled with keyboard dock.|
|Pros||• Nice video quality |
• Great sound quality
• Five finger quick menu access
|Cons||• Windows based |
• Can't fold screen over keyboard
• Off balance when docked
Typical Price: $80 Buy From Amazon
The Acer Iconia Tab W500 is the A500 Iconia Tab's lesser-known sibling with two "features" that make it destined for clearance on Woot or a cult classic.
The first is the choice of Windows 7 OS, which is not known as a great tablet OS. The other differentiation is a keyboard unit that, unlike the ASUS Transformer, comes standard with the W500. But the implementation is so awkward that you wonder why Acer made it the way they did.
Unboxing the W500 showed attention to detail. The tablet is wrapped in a protective cloth bag and housed on the top under a layer of protective cardboard. Below the main unit is the keyboard attachment that covers the documentation and software CDs. The power cord is housed in a separate compartment on the right hand side of the package.
Out of the box, the tablet weighs 2.14 pounds. This does not sound heavy, but I noticed the weight while reading in bed or laying down. The keyboard attachment weighs 1.34 pounds, putting the combined weight at 3.48 pounds.
The W500 runs on an AMD dual-core 1.0 GHz processor with 1MB L2 cache, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM and 32 GB solid state hard drive so it has what it takes to be powerful enough for average use. Graphics are handled by a Radeon HD 6250 GPU that offers clear video and sharp colors.
The 10.1” display is bordered by a one inch black frame, making the screen smaller than it could have been. While viewing HD pictures, the details really stand out. Visually, the display is pleasing to the eye and offers a smooth, non-pixilated browsing experience.
Two 1.3 MP cameras are mounted on the front and rear of the case. The rear camera does not have a flash. Indoor picture and outdoor picture quality is poor compared to other tablets.
Network connection is via a single-band (2.4 GHz) 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi radio and 10/100 Ethernet port when docked to the keyboard unit. Bluetooth 3.0+HS connectivity is also included, but 3G / 4G WWAN options are not available.
Due to the keyboard unit, there W500 has more ports than the average tablet as shown in the diagram below from the user manual. The tablet / display unit has one USB port, one HDMI port, one headphone jack and a two-way card reader that supports full-sized SD (Secure Digital) and MMC (MultiMediaCard) media.
Left and Right ports
The keyboard attachment comes with an Ethernet and USB port. Volume and power buttons are located on the top left side, out of the way so accidental pressing should not be a problem. There is a Windows button on the lower left of the tablet. I've included a full set of port and control diagrams from the user manual in the gallery as well as photos.
There are a few options that make this tablet stand out from the crowd. Acer has deployed its multi-touch interface that can be accessed by placing all five fingers on the screen. This opens a menu shown in the photo below where you can navigate to various programs and features. These include quick access to your games, calculator, camera, snipping tool, sync option and favorite websites that are broken down by category.
Another unique feature is the plug and play keyboard that connects to the tablet screen unit. If the tablet is docked, the fully functional keyboard and mouse button become your primary control center. This works well for control but fails in design.
The keyboard and docked screen is not weighted correctly and is top-heavy, lifting the front end of the keyboard off of the table as shown in the photo below. You also can't tilt the screen to adjust viewing angle, nor can you flip it around and fold it on top of the keyboard.
You can't even fold the screen forward as you would a netbook for easy carrying. You have to separate the two, clip the keyboard unit to the tablet (using magnets) and finally secure the safety latch so they stay connected.