Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

£530
Price when reviewed

Whatever you do, when you’re finished working or playing, don’t close the W500 like you would a netbook. It’s an instinctive move that every one of us in the Labs tried to make, yet doing so causes the docking connector to warp and buckle, to the point where our sample – which had admittedly endured a launch day of journalists doing exactly that before it reached us – was beginning to break. Sure, you’ll quickly learn not to do it, but allowing such an obvious motion to threaten the most vital part of the base is a serious design error.

Acer Iconia Tab W500

Instead, pull it out of its dock and you can get to know it in its tablet mode. Alas, it’s a similar experience to every other Windows 7 tablet we’ve tested, which is to say it’s immensely frustrating. Acer has done its best to ease the pain by installing its own “Acer Ring”, which gives access to a basic touch browser; a Facebook, YouTube and Flickr aggregator; a web-clipping tool; and Acer’s Clear.fi media streaming utility – all of which work only in landscape mode. It’s functional for basic tasks, but hardly a replacement for an app store.

The screen is decent enough, with even brightness and good viewing angles, and the tablet has front and rear 1.3-megapixel webcams. When held in landscape mode, the power connector sits at the bottom of the right edge, and a volume rocker, the “on” switch, an HDMI port and a headphone jack on the left edge. The bottom edge has a second USB 2 port to complement the one that makes up the docking connector, along with a rotation lock.

Acer Iconia Tab W500

The handheld itself feels sturdy, but the greatest disappointment about the Acer Iconia Tab W500 is that it’s so unwieldy in whichever mode you use it. As a netbook, the weight imbalance between the two segments makes it top-heavy, the screen angle can’t be adjusted, and the lack of robustness in the design of the keyboard dock concerns us for the long run. Plus, the mere 32GB of internal storage leaves it miles behind its netbook rivals. As a tablet, for the most part you’re left doing the usual irritable poking around in a hopelessly unsuitable operating system, and on a device that’s a good inch-and-a-half longer and 336g heavier than an iPad 2.

The final comedown is the price. Acer is charging a massive £530 inc VAT for this hybrid, or £450 for the weighty tablet alone. To put that into context, an equivalent AMD netbook costs £300, an iPad 2 £399, and Dell’s Inspiron Duo netbook/tablet hybrid – which had the same software weaknesses, but did a better job on the hardware – can be had for £450. We applaud Acer for trying to innovate, and with a redesign this concept could be made to work, but as it stands the Iconia Tab W500 offers the worst, rather than the best, of both worlds.

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

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