Acer Iconia W500 Hands-On: Convertible Windows Tablet With Trackpoint

We've been hearing for a while now that tablets are cannibalizing netbooks, but why should users have to choose between the two devices? This week at Mobile World Congress, Acer once again showed off the 10-inch convertible tablet we saw at CES. It didn't have an official name, then, but here in Barcelona the company revealed that it's called the Iconia Tab W500. This Windows 7 netbook/tablet has a 10.1-inch, 1280x800 screen that pops out to become a standalone tablet.

There are no latches holding the screen to the keyboard dock, so you just have to pull it off -- a process that required a fair amount of force and seemed rather inelegant. Popping it back on requires lining up the holes on the bottom of the screen with the prongs and connector on the dock.

As for the screen itself, it's not exactly light at 2.1 pounds or svelte at 275 x 190 x 15.95 mm, but it does support four finger gestures. Plus, Acer has taken some steps to make the icons and start menu bigger in Windows 7 for improved targetability.

When you want to close up the Iconia W500, you can't pull down the screen like you would on a normal laptop, but you can detach the screen, flip it over, and place it on top of the keyboard, where it attaches magnetically to give you a closed clamshell you can carry.

The keyboard dock really intrigues us because it uses a pointing stick rather than a mouse for navigation. We've long been fans of pointing sticks, but very few notebooks today have them so this is a welcome feature. That said, the keyboard has no palmrest at all, which means your hands will hang off the edge as you type.

As with the dual-screen Iconia and its other devices, Acer has included its awesome TouchBrowser and SocialJogger software for browsing the web and reading your feeds. Unfortunately, there was no connectivity in the booth so we couldn't test these well.

Under the hood, the Iconia W500 has a 1-GHz AMD C-50 CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 32GB SanDisk mSATA SSD for storage, and built-in 3G. But what's most intriguing about the Iconia W500 is its unique design. Check out our hands-on video below to get a better look at this slick tablet.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.