Rationalizing an Acer Iconia Tab W500

Trying to get on the tablet bandwagon, Acer introduced 3 tablets: the W500, A500 and A100. The W500, which has recently been available in Brunei, runs Windows 7 while the other 2 (more interesting tablets) are Android tablets. Sadly with the iPad around, the W500 will undoubtedly get compared to it but honestly it should be compared more to a netbook if anything else. The W500 has netbook specifications and runs a full version of Windows 7 and thus is a different category of a tablet / slate when compared to the iPad. It seems you can even play play Half-Life 2 on the W500 thanks to the AMD (i.e. ATI) GPU.

Specifications of the Acer Iconia Tab W500

  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
  • AMD C-Series processor C-50
  • AMD Radeon HD 6250 Graphics,
  • 10.1″ HD 1280 x 800 (WXGA) resolution
  • Acer CrystalBrite™ LED-backlit TFT LCD with integrated multi-touch screen
  • 2GB of DDR3
  • 32GB Solid state drive
  • Fast Ethernet
  • Bluetooth 3.0+HS
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Dual Acer Crystal Eye webcams with 1280 x 1024 resolution
  • 36 Wh 3260 mAh 3-cell Li-polymer battery Estimated battery life: up to 6 hours
  • 2-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC)
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • HDMI port with HDCP
  • G-Sensor
  • 0.97 kg (2.14 lbs.) with 3-cell battery pack
  • 275 (W) x 190 (D) x 15.95 (H) mm
  • 1-Year International Traveller Warranty

Based on the prices from Concepts the Iconia Tab W500 is B$778 while the Acer netbook (Intel: D255 / AMD: AO522) is B$498: that is a price difference of B$280, which is pretty reasonable as you get a few things with the W500 that you don’t get on a regular netbook are:

  • a higher resolution screen 12800×800 vs a typical netbook resolution of 1024×600
  • dual webcams
  • a touch screen
  • a 32GB SSD
  • the flexibility of using the device as a notebook/netbook or a slate device

You can actually modify a netbook to have a touch screen but you would need to buy and install it yourself which would void your warranty and hopefully you will be able to put everything back together nicely after installation. A 32GB SSD will set you back over B$100 and a touch screen for will also cost US$74 (~B$90) adding up to a minimum of B$200. A high resolution screen and dual webcams can’t really be added to a regular netbook and certainly a netbook won’t have the slate form factor where the screen detaches from the keyboard, so topping up an extra B$80 and you get a fully functioning polished device as opposed to try customizing a netbook into a solid state touchscreen device.

There are some issues with the device itself being that Windows 7 may not be ideal for use with a touchscreen so it may not provide an ideal experience but I guess this is up to user preference and use case: try it out and see if it works for you and what you want to do with the device. Secondly, the SSD is only 32GB meaning after installation of the operating system and any applications needed, there may not be much space left for anything else. An SSD is not meant to be cheap however, it’s mean to be fast and is more robust than regular hard disk drives so this means you can use this device when on the move in a car or train without having to worry about the hard drive getting scratched/damaged if you were to hit a bump. The W500 also probably has a lower battery life compared to a regular netbook but if the added functionality of having a touchscreen slate computer experience is something appealing or useful for you, this could be a viable and affordable option.

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