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Acer Iconia Video Hands-On: What We Like, What We Don't

We had a few short minutes to play around with the Iconia notebook-tablet at today's Acer global press conference, and so far it looks like an intriguing experiement.

Here are our quick impressions:

What We Like

  • The dual 14-inch touchscreens felt pretty responsive, and we like the way the two displays interact, yet are capable of separate operations.
  • We also like the thought Acer has put in to the touch programs they developed. Acer's custom gestures take advantage of the screens' remarkable 10-finger capability. For example, placing both palms on the bottom screen launches the keyboard and placing five fingers on the screen launches a fan-like menu that lets you choose which program to run.
  • A special Social Jogger that reminds us of Tweetdeck delivers feeds from Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, but Twitter isn't on board yet.
  • The touch-friendly browser allows you to draw a box around areas of web page that interest you and save them in your portfolio. When you open the portfolio app, that part of the web page can automatically update itself, such as a stock price or weather update.
  • In addition to the built-in gestures, Acer is realing an SDK  next month will hopefully result in a lot more great software at launch. Check out our hands-on below to see the Iconia in action.

What We Don't Like

  • The Iconia  seemed sluggish. We counted six seconds just to launch the photo app, though this is not the final product.
  • At 6.2 pounds, this is definitely one of the heaviest laptops with a 14-inch display we've seen, but since there's two screens some people may be willing to live with the heft.
  • Battery life is rated at a wimpy 3 hours, which is understandable given the two huge 14-inch screens but still a bummer. Plus, the battery is sealed in the design so you can't replace it.
  • When using Windows 7 beyond Acer's own apps, it was difficult to close applications, just as with other Windows slates. Our demonstrator jabbed at on-screen items multiple times during the video to perform a given action. (See video.)

Outlook: The Iconia has more compelling software than the Toshiba Libretto W105, a dual-screen Windows 7 tablet-netbook we didn't really like, but we're not sure consumers are ready for a device like this. At least at this early stage, the performance isn't that snappy, and touch typing just isn't possible (although we like the huge size of the layout). We won't pass final judgement until we get a final version to test out--and a price--but right now the Iconia seems a bit ahead of its time.