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Acer Iconia W500 10-Inch Windows Tablet Review

It may be the Windows tablet to beat; the Acer Iconia W500 has specs that put it on par with other brands' tablets, plus Windows 7 Home Premium edition (for $549) or Windows 7 Professional (for $619). Not only that, it has a keyboard dock with a ThinkPad-style pointer. But does being the best Windows tablet cut it, for anyone except hardcore Windows enthusiasts?Just the specs, pleaseLet's start with the stuff that's easy to understand if you know how PC and tablet specs compare. The Iconia W500 has a 1 GHz dual-core AMD processor, which is about equal to the iPad 2 or a high-end Android tablet but is underpowered compared to pretty much any other Windows PC. Its 2 GBs of RAM, while overkill for a tablet, are adequate for a Windows machine; and it has a standard outlay of Windows PC ports, including two USB ports, an SD card reader and an HDMI out. The keyboard takes up a USB port, but adds two more plus an ethernet port, in case you're somewhere that the Wi-Fi is flaky.Now for the bad news. 32 GBs of storage might be more than enough for an Android tablet, but for a Windows 7 tablet they're barely enough, because a lot of that is taken up by Windows 7 itself. The Iconia W500's battery life -- 3-4 hours -- is closer to a Windows laptop's than a tablet's, and it's much heavier than most 10-inch tablets, at 2.1 pounds. The keyboard dock adds more than a pound of weight on top of that.Does it actually work?If the first thing you thought when you saw the iPad was "I wish it ran Windows, " this Iconia's the tablet you've been waiting for. It has a token layer of multitouch-friendly apps layered on top, launched from an "Acer Ring" menu you get to by touching the screen with five fingers. But beneath that is familiar, stock Windows 7.Unfortunately, the Iconia W500's upside is its downside as well. It's basically just a Windows laptop crammed into a tablet's body. Its battery, as mentioned, only lasts as long as a laptop's, and the same processor that would be perky on an Android tablet loads apps slowly on the Iconia -- even with its solid-state drive. And the 32 GBs of memory that you're paying for are more like 16 thanks to Windows 7, so if you were planning on playing World of Warcraft on this thing, between that and the slow processor you can probably forget it.Hardware dilemmasOn top of that, despite looking like it should be able to fold shut, Asus Transformer-style, the keyboard dock simply doesn't. Reviews like Dan Ackerman's for CNet Crave make it clear just how awkward the process is; you have to undock the tablet, fit it on top and close a physical latch, then hope that it doesn't get bumped loose while you're carrying it.The UpshotThe Acer Iconia W500 is underpowered for both a Windows netbook and a tablet. It probably won't deliver a satisfying experience for fans of either, and it'll probably disappoint anyone it's gifted to for the holidays unless he or she specifically wanted it -- possibly even then.But hey, at least it'll run Flash games and RuneScape.DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION:The Contributor has no connection to nor was paid by the brand or product described in this content.By Jared Spurbeck - I m a tabletop gamer and technology enthusiast, who is passionate about social justice and open-source software.  





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