MWC 2011: Various brands overview
Acer's smartphones were just the light cavalry. The big hitters followed in the shape of three Iconia tablets: the A100, A500 and W500. As the names suggest, we had the pleasure of two droids (A100, A500) and a Windows 7 powered tablet (W500).
It seems Acer is lining up to compete on multiple markets. The A100 is a 7" Honeycomb tablet, which will be hoping to beat the Galaxy Tab. Its 10" sibling, the A500, will be fielded against the new Galaxy Tab 10.1. The 10-inch W500 is in the Windows 7 camp.
Acer Iconia Tab A100/A101
The Iconia Tab Acer A100/A101 is a 7" tablet based on the NVIDIA Tegra250 platform and comes with 512MB of RAM. The capacitive display has resolution of 1024x600 pixels and is capable of 5+ point multi-touch (for what it's worth).
There is a 5 megapixel camera on the back and a 2 megapixel one at the front for video calls. The A100 model is a Wi-Fi only, while the A101 is capable of both Wi-Fi and 3G (no phone calls, though).
Both versions have 8GB of internal storage expandable via a microSD card. They will both run Honeycomb at release (the tablet prototypes we had our hands had only Froyo). You should expect them around April.
Acer Iconia Tab A500/A510
The A5 series tablets are the 10.1-inch siblings of the A1 ones. The A500/A501 duo is also based on NVDIA Tegra250, but doubles the RAM to 1GB DDR2.
The 10.1-inch display has higher resolution too - 1024x800 pixels - and is capable of 10-point multi-touch tracking. The imaging capabilities are the same as in the A10x pair, and so is the model breakdown: the A500 is Wi-Fi only, while the A501 is 3G enabled. No phone calls here either.
Acer Iconia Tab A500/A501 will be available with 16 or 32GB of internal storage, but you can build upon it via the microSD slot.
The A500 model will be released in March, while the A501 will come in April.
The A501 we tried was also a prototype running on Froyo. The A500 pair has metal casing and that is definitely the approach we prefer.
Acer Iconia Tab W500/W501
The Acer Iconia Tab W500/W501 is a Windows 7-powered tablet made of metal. It's based on the AMD C50 platform - a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and a Radeon HD6250 GPU.
The Iconia Tab W500 has a 10.1" LCD LED-backlit display of 1280x800 pixels resolution. It also has two cameras and 32GB of SSD storage. The OS ticking inside is Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit and should pack a unique Acer Ring multi-touch interface.
The most interesting feature of the W500/W501 is the keyboard dock. It does exactly what it's supposed to - adds keyboard to the above awesomeness. You can check it out on the pictures below.
We poked around Windows 7 and we were impressed with the performance. There were no lags, the gentlest of gestures and touches got immediate response. The multi-touch works like a charm. The unit we tried didn't have the Ring UI, but other than that we've nothing to complain about.
We ran across the Acer Iconia dual-touchscreen laptop at the MWC 2011 and photographed the hell out of it. The laptop's claim to fame is two 14" touchscreens, one of which can act as a keyboard or gesture area when needed.
Of course, you can also use the two screens to display twice as much info as other 14" laptops. But the real question for us was how well the virtual keyboard performs.
Here are the basic specs of the Acer Iconia - two 14" 1366x768 touchscreens with Gorilla Glass scratch-resistant surface, an Intel Core i5 processor, 2x USB 2.0 and 1x USB 3.0, an HDMI port and Windows 7 OS with elaborate touch-operated software.
You can get the Iconia with a i5 560M or i5 580M CPUs too, with up to 8GB of RAM. For storage, you can choose from 320/500/640/750GB HDDs (or larger) but there's no SSD option. There's no alternative to the Intel graphics either. The Iconia weighs 2.8kg, which is quite a bit for a 14-incher.
The one we tested had a Core i5 480M dual-core CPU (2.66GHz clock speed, 2.93GHz with TurboBoost) with 4GB of RAM. Respectable hardware, but we noticed some lags here and there. The Intel HD Graphics GPU probably didn't help much here.
Browsing on the ICONIA is a cool experience - the two screens managed to fit almost all of our homepage vertically. But the bottom screen can do more - you can put widgets on it, which pull info from different sites (check the video to see how those work).
The bottom screen is also where you can do gestures and it houses the Acer Ring, a nicely touch-optimized launcher, which can be activated by placing five fingers on it.
Place both palms on the bottom screen and the virtual keyboard pops up - it's not like other virtual keyboards you're used, this one emulates a laptop keyboard very closely. It's a full QWERTY keyboard, with touchpad and palm rests.
The typing experience is a bit of a hit and miss. You can start typing fast and accurately right off the bat. If you're having trouble, you can use the spell correction until you get used to typing on a big virtual keyboard with both hands. Handwriting recognition is also supported.
The virtual keyboard on the Acer Iconia
There's other cool stuff like social networking integration, which displays updates from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on the second display, touch optimized web browser, media players and more, but that's all we had time to look at.
The Acer Iconia is priced at €1,100 ($1,500).
Here's a video demo of the Acer ICONIA that we shot at the MWC 2011: