Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

A poorly executed and expensive attempt to create a hybrid of two popular form factors

David Bayon
31 Mar 2011
3
Price when reviewed 
530

Page 1 of 2 Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

“PC or tablet? Choose both,” begins Acer’s description of its Iconia Tab W500, before going on to call its dual-function design “the best of both worlds”. The first of those two quotes is technically correct, but you’d have to be very new to mobile computing to come away agreeing with the second.

It isn’t that the concept is a bad one. The W500 is made up of two distinct elements: the 10.1in Windows 7 tablet and the removable keyboard dock, cleverly designed to fit perfectly together into the shape of a netbook when closed for carrying. A small latch on the front edge of the keyboard holds the two parts together like a traditional laptop lid, and as a whole it feels about as thick and weighty as a netbook from a year or two ago – a small price to pay for such flexibility.

Flip the latch, however, and rather than opening upwards like a laptop, the two segments simply come apart in your hands – a surprise that caused panicked fumbles as we handed it to unwitting test subjects. Instead, to make the necessary connection you have to open the flap behind the keyboard and slot the tablet into the USB dock that emerges.

In that mode, it functions much like any netbook. The base has a USB 2 port on either edge, along with an Ethernet socket for when you’re at your desk. To make room for the dock, the keyboard has shifted forward towards the user, occupying the space where once would have been a wristrest and trackpad. Instead you get a perfectly usable trackpoint, along with some rather skinny mouse buttons on the front edge. If your experience matches ours, you may find yourself clicking the space bar by mistake until you get used to the cramped layout.

Acer Iconia Tab W500

It also performs much like a netbook. It has 2GB of RAM and an AMD C-50 processor, which unfortunately meant it aped the recent Toshiba NB550D in refusing to install Sony Vegas Pro 10. Disabling that element of our benchmarks, performance was almost identical to the Toshiba, putting it a shade behind an Atom netbook in everyday applications but quicker in media tasks. It also coped with the TrackMania Nations Forever 3D benchmark relatively well, averaging 18fps at Medium quality settings and the screen’s native 1,280 x 800 resolution. Finally, the battery gave us 5hrs 8mins of light use – distinctly average by netbook standards.

Page 1 of 2 Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

Warranty

Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions275 x 188 x 37mm (WDH)
Weight1.560kg
Travelling weightN/A

Processor and memory

ProcessorAMD C-50
Motherboard chipsetAMD Fusion
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,280
Resolution screen vertical800
Resolution1280 x 800
Graphics chipsetAMD Radeon HD 6250
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSSD
Optical disc technologynone
Optical driveN/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
Pointing device typeTrackpoint
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Hardware volume control?yes
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 8min
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedN/A