Acer Iconia Tab W500 Tablet Review
Acer Iconia Tab W500 Strengths
- 10.1-inch Acer Iconia Tab W500 tablet PC with a capacitive multi-touch screen that is responsive and sensitive to taps and swipes. The screen is bright and there’s limited drop-off in contrast when you watch it from more acute angles. The screen resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels gives a sharp picture when watching video too.
- Acer Iconia Tab W500 ships with Windows 7 Home Premium so will run any Windows desktop application including the full Microsoft Office suite and complex software such as Photoshop. You therefore have access to just about any app you would find for a Windows 7 desktop or laptop. The only problem is that these apps and games won’t be tablet-optimised and are likely to be designed for use with a mouse. Trying to navigate fiddly menus with a finger on a touchscreen can be very difficult. The best solution is to buy a stylus for the touchscreen or plug a mouse into a USB port to help navigation. A mouse makes the slate more usable but defeats the object of having a highly portable tablet.
- A full Windows operating system also means it’s fully compatible with Adobe Flash. Therefore you get access to the range of video and games that are available on the web that utilise this technology. In comparison, iPad owners are restricted from accessing this content.
- Powerful processor that can handle high-definition video playback, browse the web speedily and deals with games. It’s not as good as more powerful laptops with the most graphically intensive games designed for Windows, but still gives a decent performance.
- There is the option to buy a Acer Iconia W500 keyboard dock that turns the tablet into an open netbook (along the same lines as the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer) but you can’t actually close it shut like a netbook. The on-screen keyboard on most tablets are of limited use if you’re writing long documents so having the keyboard dock gives you more options. The keyboard dock also contains an Ethernet port for a wired Internet connection, 2 USB ports and a HDMI port.
- 2 USB ports on the Acer Iconia Tab W500 and 2 USB ports on the keyboard dock for adding other peripheral devices – a printer, scanner, external hard drive, mouse, keyboard – whatever you can think of with a USB connection. You can also use the USB ports to plug-in a memory stick and transfer files on-and-off the device.
- HDMI port – you can buy a HDMI lead and plug the tablet directly into a high-definition TV. This means that the high-definition output on your tablet screen will display on the big-screen TV making it a much better experience for watching web video, TV, or movies you have stored on your tablet.
- 32GB hard drive gives an acceptable size of internal storage for files and there’s also an SD card slot so you can buy inexpensive SD cards for storing files. These can then be slotted in the tablet when you need them.
- Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi + 3G options. This means you can elect to buy the cheaper version and have the function to connect to the internet via your home Wi-Fi connection or a Wi-Fi hotspot when you’re out and about. If you need access to the 3G mobile network, then you’ll need to pay a bit more for the Iconia Tab W500 with 3G connectivity so you can get online when you’re not in range of a Wi-Fi signal.
- 1.3 megapixel front-facing WebCam for video chat on services such as Skype.
- 1.3 megapixel rear-facing camera for shooting videos and stills. It’s pretty low resolution though so don’t expect anything as good as a dedicated digital camera or video camera.
- Acer have also added their own software layer to Windows called “Acer Ring”. It gives you fast access to your media.
- You can download the Kindle App and use the tablet as an e-Reader.
Acer Iconia Tab W500 Weaknesses
- Once again we’re back to the issues with Windows 7 – the translation to a tablet format isn’t as slick at Android or iOS. Windows 7 has some touchscreen support but it hasn’t specifically been designed for tablets so it means icons and menus are fiddly to interact with in comparison to when you have a mouse or track-pad with a desktop. The software on-screen keyboard for Windows is very hard to work with and you often hit the wrong keys when typing.
- Just like any Windows PC, you’re also going to need virus software and a firewall to keep malware off your device. This has a habit of taking up processing power and slowing down the boot-up speed.
- The processor can handle Windows but the general heaviness of the operating system on this processor means there is occasional lag. Windows applications are designed for desktops and laptops with more powerful processors so this means there is a delay as they load up. There is also a lag as the tablet re-orientates the screen as you switch from landscape to portrait mode (or vice-versa).
- The Acer Iconia Tab W500 takes about a minute to boot-up Windows so it’s not an instant-on tablet in comparison to the iPad or Android tablets. This delay is caused by loading the operating system, drivers and other programmes. It just makes it more of an effort to use as you’ve got a wait before you can quickly look something up on the internet.
- Bulkier and heavier than other comparable 10.1-inch tablets at 970g.
- A larger internal hard drive beyond the 32GB supplied would improve the tablet as this size memory is light for a Windows PC.
- The keyboard dock gives some flexibility but it’s also a bit flimsy in construction. A Bluetooth or USB keyboard may give you enough options without having to pay for the expensive keyboard dock.
- Battery life is measured at 4-4.5 hours of continuous HD video playback. This is not very good compared with other tablets but ok for a Windows tablet.
Tablet Review – Acer Iconia Tab W500
Whilst the Acer Iconia Tab W500 gives some flexibility if you can’t decide between a tablet and a netbook, it’s hard to recommend against other tablets at a similar price. Some users want to have a full operating system on a tablet so you can use all your Windows applications. However, Windows 7 is just not designed for this format so it’s difficult to use. As noted on previous Windows tablet reviews, a stylus does improve the usability.
You can’t really compare the experience of a Windows operating system on a tablet to an iPad or Android tablet. iOS on the iPad and Android tablets are designed for media consumption – watching movies, playing games and surfing the web. Windows PCs are designed for work and content creation whilst still giving you the option to do these other things. With a Windows tablet you give up slick tablet usability to get the flexibility of having the full powered operating system. You have other compromises too, such as a much reduced battery life and longer boot time. That said, some people need a full operating system and the iPad or Android slates are too simplified for their needs.
Given the range of tablets on the market, the ASUS Eee Slate EP121 is rated above the Acer Iconia Tab W500, although it’s substantially more expensive. If you’re looking for a cheaper Windows tablet then the Acer Iconia Tab W500 is an option but be wary of the shortfalls of Windows tablets at this price.
Acer Iconia Tab W500 specification and user reviews.
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