Acer has unveiled a trio of Iconia Tab tablets in the shape of the 10.1in. Windows 7-based W500, the 10.1in. A500, which runs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and the 7in. A100, another device running Google's tablet-optimised OS. The 10.1in. tablets will be available on 8 April, with the 7in. device following in the summer.
The W500 uses an AMD Fusion APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) that combines the CPU and a DirectX 11 GPU on a single chip — specifically the dual-core C-50 processor with Radeon HD6250 graphics, which has a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of just 9 watts. It comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a 32GB SSD and runs Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional (both 32-bit).
Windows 7 provides access to a huge range of business and consumer applications, but isn't the most tablet-optimised of operating systems. To alleviate this, Acer provides a custom UI overlay called Acer Ring (pictured above), which includes a number of touch-friendly apps and utilities.
The tablet, which costs £449 (inc. VAT), slots into an optional £89.99 keyboard dock that includes a pointing stick and a pair of mouse buttons plus a 10/100Mbps Ethernet connection and a USB 2.0 port. If you specify the keyboard dock at purchase time, you get it for £10 less.
The W500's capacitive multitouch screen, which Acer says uses extra-tough Gorilla Glass, has a resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, 350-nits brightness and 160-degree viewing angles in both vertical and horizontal planes.
Wireless connectivity comes in the shape of Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth (3.0), while a mobile broadband option (HSPA: 7.2Mbps up, 5.76Mbps down) will be available about a month after launch, for an extra £50. Acer's DLNA-based clear.fi software allows multimedia content to be shared around a home wireless network.
The W500 has two 1.3-megapixel webcams, one on the front for video calls and a rear-mounted camera for capturing stills and video.
Connections on the 970g W500 tablet include USB 2.0, HDMI, a pair of audio jacks, a flash card reader supporting SD-compatible media and the docking connector. With the keyboard dock in place, the weight rises to 1.58kg. One potential problem we noticed with the design is that, when docked, the W500 looks like a clamshell notebook — but it doesn't fold shut neatly like a clamshell system, which could confuse users, at least at first.
The W500 runs off a three-cell 36Wh battery, for which Acer claims between four hours and 6 hours of life, depending on the usage pattern.
The Iconia Tab W500's Android-based stablemate is the A500. Based on the same hardware platform, this more consumer-focused device runs the tablet-optimised version 3.0 of Android (Honeycomb). The A500 comes with a Bluetooth keyboard option rather than the keyboard dock, which isn't currently supported. Like the W500, the A500 goes on sale on 8 April, starting at £449 (inc. VAT).
Asked about the possibility of a dual-boot Windows 7/Android 3.0 tablet, Acer's UK country manager Bobby Watkins replied that this was "not beyond the realm of our interest".
A view of the Iconia Tab A500's brushed-aluminium rear.
The 7in. Iconia Tab A100 is essentially a scaled-down version of the 10.1in. A500. It was not on show at Acer's London launch event, and no firm details on pricing and availability were given.