The Acer Iconia Tab W500 is a Windows 7 hybrid tablet/laptop aimed at business professionals on the move.
Despite being sold as a standalone 10.1in tablet, the keyboard attachment is imperative for many users to get the most out of the device. One of the major reasons for this is that Windows 7 was not designed to be used with a touch screen.
Our impressions of the W500 were mixed as it isn't as striking as the iPad 2. Technical specifications are impressive on paper, with an AMD C-50 dual-core 1GHz processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of internal storage as standard.
The device comes with an overall Windows Experience Index rating of 2.8. Compare this to the Fujitsu Lifebook PH530's Windows Experience rating of 2.7, which is a slightly misleading score as the graphics capabilities brought the overall score down.
The 10.1 widescreen LCD touch display comes with a resolution of 1,280x800, and has a bright picture thanks to the LED backlight. Surrounding the screen, however, is a large black bezel that looks like it could have been better used.
Our measurements suggest that Acer could have increased the screen size to 12 inches. The fact that the extra space hasn't been used is even more bizarre considering that the majority of this unused bezel is part of the LCD panel itself.
Other features built into the chassis include a two-in-one card reader, HDMI and USB 2.0 port as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Like all the latest tablets the W500 incorporates front- and rear-facing cameras, both at 1.3-megapixels.
Business users are likely to need the keyboard attachment most of the time. To connect the tablet, the screen slots into a USB connector into the keyboard, which appears when a flap is raised.
When the device is not in use, the flap on the keyboard can be folded down and the screen can be placed on top of it, locked in place and carried around like a netbook.
However, the problems start when the W500 is plugged into the keyboard. The device weighs 1kg but most of this is in the tablet, making it top heavy. The W500 needs to be placed on a completely flat surface otherwise there is a risk of it toppling over.
Using the W500 balanced on your lap is very tricky and great care has to be taken to ensure that the screen does not fall out of the dock. During our tests, we found that the W500 was incapable of sitting on the soft surface of a sofa or bed without falling over.
The W500 takes anywhere between five to 10 seconds to detect when a dock has been attached. Although this is not a long time, it gives the impression that the device is sluggish and is likely to get slower as time goes on.
The dockable keyboard itself is usable, but far from the best we have seen. It comes with 84 keys, two USB ports and an ethernet socket.
Letters are generally well spaced in a island style, but they are very shallow and it is easy to misspell words because letters have not been depressed sufficiently.
Unfortunately, there is no trackpad and you are forced to use the FineTrack trackball that sits in the centre of the keyboard. The two mouse buttons are also awkwardly placed on the edge of the keyboard and we found that we often hit the space bar instead of the left click.