on 3 June 2011
Acer's Iconia Tab W500 is a nice tablet to use, a little bit bulkier and heavier than the iPad and Android equivalent, but none the worse for it. Of course your getting the ever resource hungry Windows 7 Home premium as an OS, appears a lot of reviewers have an issue with Win' 7 on tablets but I've found the W500 runs smoothly thanks to the duel core AMD C50 cpu with intergrated Radeon 6250 gpu and 2GB of RAM.
The 32GB Sandisk P4 mini PCI-E SSD is a touch on the small side (capacity) but seems speedy enough (30MB/160MB write/read speed) with the Windows install utilising just over 1/2 the space, extra storage is available in the form of the SD (not microSD) slot which will take upto a 32GB card (have heard that the 64GB SDXC cards work also). If a larger SSD is required, then the 80GB Intel 310 SSD (70MB/200MB write/read speed) would be the way to go, IMHO ...
With Windows installed and 2 fullsize USB ports, you have access to every device that you could wish for. If it works with Win' 7 it'll run on this tablet. If you feel the need to watch a movie on a bigger screen then just plug it into your TV via the HDMI port, simple :)
On first boot I removed 90% of Acer's installed software, the Acer Ring is a poor attempt at creating a dynamic, easy to use interface, it just slows things up and isn't needed. Want shortcuts to everything and anything, just creat a shortcut to it on the desktop, same as on your normal PC ... Leaving 'Device Control' and 'Auto Rotation Blocker' in place gives you acces to the power, wi-fi, bluetooth and brightness settings in one place and gives you the screen rotation function (redraw is about 2 seconds).
For me the keyboard dock is poorly impliemented and not worth the £80 premium, an ok wireless keyboard & mouse set can be had for £20 leaving you money for an SD card or external HDD.
All in, the W500 works well as a very mobile PC; the 10.1" touch screen is percise and sensitive, and along with the dedicated Windows Start button intuative to use. The touch-screen keyboard is easy to use and can be swapped to handwriting recognition if desired. It handles day-to-day stuff easily and I've had no issues running Photoshop Elements 9, plus my colour callibration software with an X-rite Display 2 works faultlessly. As an E-Reader I've had no issues with the screen (2-3 hour reading sessions) but its weight does get a little uncomfortable after a while and you'll be looking for some kind of prop to rest it on.
For me this is the best of two worlds, with a little time spent tweeking Windows its smooth and easy to use as an iPad etc. but as functional as a desktop PC ... No issues in use and have had no faults to report, no system conflicts or crashes, boots first time, every time in just under a minute. It's been just about perfect so far.
The battery is lasting roughly 5 hours with mixed usage (mainly internet & movies) but when purely reading e-books this jumps to near 8 hours.
There is a down side ... it could be a little lighter for more comfortable prolonged hand-held use and a higher capacity HDD would have been nice. The screen can be a pain in very bright situations (same as every glossy device screen), some kind of anti-reflection coating would be nice (can you get a matt screen protector that does that?!). Maybe on the next version ...
*Updated to reflect over a months day-to-day usage*
Not the very best out there, but no where near the worst of them ... 4.5/5
Been looking for a decent Windows tablet for a while. I thought i`d found it when I bought the Asus EP121 earlier this month but it has some reliability issues so had to return it and didn`t want to risk another one, so I tried this one and to be honest was not expecting to like it.
Its unusually big for a 10.1" tablet due to its ridiculously large bezel but is relatively lightweight which is good. Build quality is above average and the screen is fantasic, bright and has good range of viewing angles. I did not bother with the keyboard dock as I do not believe this to be worth the £80 premium and instead use my trusted bluetooth keyboard which works perfectly.
I was a little aprehensive about the AMD 1Ghz processor but it is actually quite nippy and is certainly faster than the Atom N550 which the Dell Inspiron Duo uses. Normal tasks within Windows are handled easily and the tablet also uses a half decent graphics card which handles the video when running them, leaving the processor to handle the other functions.
Overall this is as good a Windows tablet as you will find at the moment, unless you are willing to spend £1000 for the Asus and risk potential reliability issues. I am left feeling quite good about my purchase and also know that when Windows 8 becomes available in a few months I will have no problems upgrading the OS.
Finally a comment on battery life. For a Windows 7 tablet this is impressive. I get just under 5 hours with wifi on and mainly browsing, emails etc. Yet its no iPad or Xoom in terms of battery life but when comparing to other Windows tablets such as the Asus EP121 (which gave me around 3 hours) this is impressive. Recommending this if you are specifically looking for a Windows tablet, its the best out there in this price range.
on 5 August 2011
I received my W501 (the mark 2 W500 adding a 3G SIM slot) on 14 July 2011 and loved it the minute it came out of the nicely nested boxes. I recently ended a job where I wore out a Lenovo X61 Tablet over two years (the lid hinge wiring gave up). That tablet (Windows Vista Enterprise, high-resolution touch requiring a special but natural pen-like stylus, good handwriting recognition) let me entirely give up reading and writing using paper. Wonderful but, at over £1k, beyond my personal budget.
Does the W500 match up? Here's my opinion.
Better than the X61 Tablet: just about everything that matters. Weight (but a mile!); display resolution; wifi quality and bluetooth functionality (though X61 also has 3G); a nice to use light keyboard dock instead of hinge carying wires; lack of overkill on devices (who needs moving parts like DVD drives now we have SD and the cloud?); price (of course). I would add Windows 7 over Vista and Microsoft Office 2010 over 2007 (I have the whole thing including Visio installed) but those considerable improvements down to Microsoft, not Acer.
Worse than the X61: the only point that stands out is that capacitive screen. I just cannot write or draw as well as I could on the X61. Not being able to rest the side of one's hand on the screen is a bit awkward but I can adapt. It's the lack of precision and speed that hurts. I have bought, and I'm happy with and Acase Freehand Fine Art stylus and I'm getting better at getting just the right pressure, so it's definitely usable and I'm not giving it up! But if I had the money, I'd look at systems with hand-insensitivity and fine-point stylus to get back that precision in taking notes and doodles. That's where the productivity gains lie.
I have yet to buy it, but coverage means I'm getting a 3G SIM card soon as one can get fed up hunting for wifi on the hoof. And I'll be stuffing a 32Gb SD in the spare slot, too, though Microsoft's SyncToy means I've got synchonised copies of chosen folders from my home PC on the Tab so can live with the modest 32Gb means.
So, Acer, any chance of a Mark 3 with a better touch screen? I'd like one. But thanks for the W501 - it's cool.
[Postscript added 2011-08-31: The 3G works like a charm...]
on 11 June 2011
I've owned the W500 for a month now and I can state that it's quite a funky little device. It plays 1080p youtube video with ease (make sure you change the ATI GPU settings to performance!) and after a quick tweak, manages to boot into windows in 32 seconds while out of the box, I'm afraid, it manages the same at just over 1 minute. Sure, we shouldn't have to clean install or remove bloatware, but that's part of the course with oems such as Acer/Dell etc.
Tweaks by me:
Although I would normally rate this machine 4 out of 5 I've reduced the score to 3 due to a fault that's appearing on a few machines out there, sadly, which has happened to mine; currently been sent off for a fix?
With no reason, when using the machine, the 'touch' indicator hits the 'show desktop' button to the far right of the screen which minimises (in a way) the entire screen. Over and over again. Frustrating? Yes. A clean install did not fix the issue and I know of five other people that have experienced the same issue. Quite sad really as this is a very, very nice device. The top device is the Asus EP121 but if you want something in the middle, the W500 will fit that bill. For general internet use the Touch features work very well and the on-screen keyboard is also very easy to use. Windows 7 usually gets a bad reputation due to 'other' operating systems supposedly being fully touch enabled but here you have the best of both worlds: Full OS, Touch features, the works.
All in all if you manage NOT to get a defective unit, which is possible, enjoy. I will return here after I find out more from the returned unit.
P.s. Don't let my issues spoil your choice as this 'IS' a very nice machine.
on 21 March 2012
There is a reason why most online magazine reviews of the Iconia W500 are luke warm, yet the customer reviews here (and at Amazon USA) are almost all positive. Out of the box it can be a shockingly poor experience. The preloaded Windows 7 takes up almost half of the already tiny amount of 32 gb of internal SSD memory. Savvy users will remove all the Acer bloatware, including the pointless Acer games, and all sorts of unnecessary gizmos which add nothing to efficiency or performance. Optimising the graphics for performance and removing Windows Aero sees a glimmer of improvement - but there are still lots of tasks left to optimise this tablet and turn it from a clumsy piece of kit into the slick hardware you wanted it to be:
On powering up I was immediately disappointed by the cumbersome, laggy, slow-to-react scrolling, zooming and webpage loading that windows 7 inevitably provides, together with its ludicrously bloated 14+ gb standard installation. No wonder many tech websites reviews give this the thumbs down. And no wonder why the ipad, and competing android kit, gets so much more positive website reviews. But the tech website staff don't get the time to iron things out, and if they could be bothered to get under the W500's skin, they would perhaps be more glowing in their reviews.
The potential of the W500 is far greater than it indicates when you first use it. Patience and intelligent tweaking is the key. First and foremost, this is a fully useable windows machine. It has flash, shockwave and you can run any windows programme you wish, just as you do on your desktop computer. For people like me this is why we bypass the ipad, which is a consumer entertainment device and not a very useful gadget for serious computer work. I have one vital business application that contains all our customer databases, and this has to run on Windows - no android or Mac O/S will run it. There will be thousands of other users who are in the same situation, and an ipad, for all its wonderful qualities, doesn't cut it in this regard.
Here's what to do in order to turn the W500 from a lame duck into an impressive tablet:
1. Get rid of all the bloatware.
2. Shut down all unnecessary windows services.
3. Download Google Chrome for much better hand-gesture/swipe experience than Internet Explorer.
4. Use windows classic interface and disable windows aero.
5. Save every scrap of RAM you can by booting with minimum preloaded apps.
6. Right click on computer/properties and choose high performance option but retain smooth screen fonts.
7. Buy an inexpensive SD card to add 16 gb or preferably 32 or 64 gb external memory.
8. Open windows control panel and increase the size of the tabs for less fiddly navigation.
Just doing the above should result in doubling the smoothness of finger gesture based scrolling, zooming, page loading and the whole tablet experience.
More options for experienced Windows users
Download and install Windows 8 Consumer preview. This free to use Windows 8 beta, which is time limited and will wipe most of your current Windows 7 setup, will give you a taste of what this tablet can really achieve when the final version of Win 8 is released. Windows 8 is geared for tablets. Once installed it is quite stable and will transform your tablet experience to the slick level of an ipad - but you still have all the power and flexibility of Windows 7, including being able to run most standard windows apps: email, office, and most of your own custom software.
CAUTION - CAUTION !!!!
The Iconia W500 has one serious flaw that can get you into trouble. The Bios is NOT hard coded onto a motherboard chip, but is located on the internal SSD drive. This is a major potential problem, because the Bios files can get corrupted, and you won't be able to boot up. There are recovery disks included but some users report that they do not always work. Even if you do not upgrade to Windows 8 there is a danger that the Bios can get corrupted anyway. This is a small risk but a real one. This is a monumentally stupid thing of Acer to do. The BIOS should always reside on an independent chip and NEVER on the hard drive.
Caution aside, running Windows 8 should not invalidate your warranty, whatever your vendor or Acer claim, since it is a valid microsoft O/S and conforms to this tablet's requirements. Warranty rules here only refer to hardware, not software, the only exception being if you try to install a non-native O/S like Android.
Immediately after installing Windows 8, you will experience an amazing transformation, and the W500 will run as slickly and smoothly as any ipad or premium Android tablet. If you do not want to take that risk, Windows 7 is perfectly fine for most functions, and you can wait for the official release of Windows 8 in the autumn of 2012.
Fantastic screen and image quality
HD video and photo viewing excellent
Bezel is chunky and strong
Once optimised, is a satisfying workhorse when on the move
You can run all your business and personal windows apps
Runs flash (Apple please note)
Should have had 4 gb of RAM - 2 gb is not really enough for Windows 7.
This tablet only seems to run Windows 32 bit. 64 bit would address larger RAM.
Standard SSD memory is a woeful 32 gb. You will need added SD card memory.
BIOS located in the worst place possible: The SSD drive.
The power and volume buttons are far too small and fiddly.
It's a bit too heavy, but you get used to it.
The SD card and 3g slots and slot covers are awful, small, fiddly and flakey.
Screen can get dirty very quickly, needing constant wipes to remove finger marks.
Screen is over-reflective. Stay out of sunlight!
This tablet is just about the best windows device of its kind for the price. There are better, more powerful tablets, but they are very expensive and will suffer the same clunky performance in Windows 7. I purchased my W500 for a remarkable £329 after a bit of haggling. The average price if you shop around is currently around £360.
Note on seller: I've ordered many times from Amazon and the service is exemplary - not one item has ever arrived late, and most arrived next day, even after ordering 4 pm the day before. But on this occasion I purchased a customer-returned W500 from Comet. The price was good but unfortunately the screen died after the first day. A replacement was ordered but there was a week long delay before it arrived in the shop for pick up. Yet they could have simply ordered another one from their online website, or phoned their own web hotline. But no..."it's on a different system sir - can't do it that way". I can't help feeling that this is a contributory factor explaining why Comet, and other retail stores, are struggling. They are aware of online competition, but seem unwilling to adapt or be flexible in order to compete. It would have taken no effort to simply order a new one in using their own system, for next day delivery.
After frequent use I have a comment about one significant flaw: The USB ports are on the bottom of the W500. This is not the right place and is a design flaw. It means you cannot attach devices like a mouse or keyboard and still angle this tablet on a surface for easier viewing. The ports should have been placed on the right.
on 5 May 2012
I got this tablet with Win 7 on it, and although it was ok the way it was, I upgraded it to the consumer preview version of Windows 8 a few days later because I wanted to try the new OS out with a touch device. Having used an iPad for a couple of years, I was prepared to be disappointed because everyone had tried to tell me that Windows on touch devices was no good - but instead, I have been really impressed.
Comparing it to the iPad, first some negative features. It weighs nearly twice as much (still not that heavy at under 1kg) and the battery life is not nearly as good. After 8 hours on standby, the W500 had lost a lot of charge, whereas I can leave the iPad on standby for days without it draining the battery to any appreciable extent (having said this, Win 8 boots so quickly that I have taken to just powering it off when I am not using it). On my W500, the battery lasts for five to nine hours dependent on what I am doing it with it - which is less than the iPad but is adequate for all but the longest journeys away from electrics. The screen rotation on the W500 is good, but it doesn't have the transition effect the iPad does, so the screen goes black briefly when you rotate it.
Its good features (of which there are many). It is a proper fully fledged PC with 2G RAM and a dual core processor which runs proper Windows apps (very smoothly on Win 8 - particularly impressively as it is a beta OS). I wouldn't want to use the virtual keyboard to write a long report with fancy formatting, but for short periods of time it is perfectly usable and (I think) nicer than the Apple one. The handwriting recognition is also a truly great feature. Plugged in to its docking station or with a usb keyboard and mouse, you could easily work on a complicated Word document or Powerpoint presentation on it, which is pretty much an essential feature for me using it as a business device. It also has two USB ports and a SD card reader which are features I really miss in the iPad. I tested installing a couple of programs on a 64G SD card because the internal SSD is pretty small at 33G, and they run pretty quickly. The Metro side of the OS is great for touch, although legacy stuff running on the desktop can be a little fiddly (stylus recommended for windows explorer in particular). I've yet to find a program it won't run smoothly (I suspect some graphic heavy games would make it struggle) and I've even had it running Linux in a virtual machine.
So my verdict is that it does everything the iPad does and many things that it can't. It can be an entertainment device, an ebook reader and a music player when you want it for fun, and then flip to being a proper business device that doesn't need 'Apps' because it already has everything that comes with Windows. If you can cope with being a little bit different to everyone else and battery life is not the critical factor for you - you will like this tablet.
One further point to mention - be careful what case you buy for it. I bought a beautiful leather one - and it would have been great for Windows 7, but it doesn't work properly with Windows 8 because it covers part of the screen area that you need to flick to bring up the main menu.
on 9 December 2011
First up, comparisons to the iPad are irrelevant; that would be like comparing comfort by highlighting the differences between a deckchair and a sofa. The iPad is all about a small, self-contained and closed touchscreen experience (works out of the box) while this is a tablet sized PC running a full operating system. Obviously I knew this.
First up, most importantly, this is a humble machine that performs admirably. The Dual Core CPU may only be 1ghz but it flies through everything you would expect it to. I installed Office 2007 on it and was very pleased with load times and performance with the on-screen keyboard. I tweaked the tablet settings including the "flick" sensitivity and I now browse files, folders and the internet like I do on my Win7 phone. Having flash is a big plus too; don't underestimate just how much Flash content is out there (BBC Sport, for example).
Video performance is great, sharp and never lags. Have to see how it does with low/mid end PC games but i imagine with 1280x800 it should probably cope okay with G.R.I.D on low settings...that would be worth bragging about.
My advice would be to install something like Stardock's "ObjectDock" and place you most important programs on those docks (i have and it works wonderfully well). In your folders set the view size to "medium" and everything just works.
Everyone talks about apps/games for touchscreen devices. That's all good, and I do play some games on my phone, but they don't compaure to a full Office suite or Steam for gamers. Quickly installed my wireless 360 pad and now to see what's playable!
I love it, because it's Windows 7 and I love using Windows. There's not fanboy nonsense here; I do appreciate the way the iPod/Pad/Phones all work and how slick the interface is. This is not so slick but then it's not Metro UI or Windows 8. If you're happy to tweak your folders and get the right balance with finger gesture settings, this works great. Also, I can recommend Adobe Digital Editions (free) for your ebook needs; works a treat.
I did like the sound of EEE 121 Windows Tablet, but at well over twice the price (if you can find one) the Acer is just fine. Remember, it's a FULL operating system, not a specialised custom touchscreen OS. When Windows 8 drops you'll be able to upgrade to a full, intuitive touchscreen OS. For now, this works great. Just don't expect the automatic touchscreen experience of Android or Apple's pods and pads.
on 16 March 2012
I've had the tablet for about 4 months. I stuck with the pre-installed Windows 7 for about a week. So the majority of my review is not based on the pre-installed software.
I downloaded the first Windows 8 Developer Preview and was amazed at it's responsiveness and usability. It cold boots in less than 15 seconds and resumes in a couple of seconds from sleep! Very similar in style to my Windows Phone.
I have since upgraded it to the Win 8 Consumer Preview with no problems and this is really something special now with all these preview apps in the Microsoft App Store. Also, the Windows/Volume/Power buttons and accelerometer work fine. Auto-rotate is much quicker than Win 7.
It can seem strange going from a desktop app to a Metro app. But I've really got used to it now. It's like you can switch from casual mode to business efficient mode with usb keyboard and mouse attached.
But as the review is on the tablet itself as sold I also have to say I was very impressed with it's performance and responsiveness with the pre-installed windows 7. I liked the ability to right-click by tapping two fingers at once (an ability I've lost in Windows 8). Worked better than my girlfriends Win 7 Atom netbook for general stuff and has a far superior AMD graphics processor.
I have had Racedriver Grid working at lower res (about 25-30 fps) and many older games/upcoming newer 3D Win 8 Metro UI games (like the ones in the Consumer Preview) should work blisteringly fast. Pinball FX2 for Xbox live looks stunning. Outputs to my 1080p HDTV perfectly. In fact many nights I will swithch off my noisy power hungry home PC and plug in the tablet and wireless keyboard and mouse and use it as my main PC.
I would highly recommend this as a great priced option for a more serious power users who need more CPU speed than a SoC Tablet. Brilliant for play, work or if you want to try Windows 8 and avoid being a slave to Apple. Don't mind paying for Win 8 when it comes out and it will still be cheaper and better/more flexible/less locked-down than an iPad.
I never got the docking station so can't comment but a wireless keyboard/mouse works great and is much cheaper. It is a little heavier than an iPad so is probably not best if your primarily use as a reader but you can easily hold it for long periods if your not a wimp. That's the trade-off for higher specs.
Well done Acer, a solidly built high quality product that wont break the bank.
on 30 December 2011
I don't normally write reviews but this is quite a piece of kit for the money, if you want a cross between a netbook running windows 7 and a touch screen experience for £400 or so, get this. I have had it for a few weeks now after 3 years with a sammy NC20 that was never quite stable and finaly refused to be revived by any means, but enough of that. I will tell you what I think of it so far.
2G of RAM is nicely combined with the 32G HDD(just keep it tidy!) starts quickly runs smoothly with 2 or 3 programs open. My programs(full MS Office,Sage accounts,adobe acrobat maker, itunes,mcafee)W7 and the acer software occupy 80% of C drive. 32G SD card for the memory slot is a must, save all your files,/media to this location because if you have ever experienced the blue screen of death you will be really glad you did.
I didnt buy the keyboard or the practicality of onboard 3g(not worth doubling the cost for). The touch screen keyboard is fine for my use but buy a capacitive stylus unless you have twigs for fingers. As for 3g it supports a USB dongle or wifi fine anyway.
Battery life is good. Video is great and the HD socket is fabulous for hooking up to a big flat screen(you may have to go into control panel display settings to adjust resolution and use projector settings to duplicate screens) but once thats done, tablet on your tv! If you have a smartphone get an app like Remote Mouse and you can use your home wifi to control the desktop from your armchair! I'm telling you its witchcraft!
I looked at a number of tablet type devices including ipads but anything running less than windows 7 is a toy in my opinion if you want to work properly in programs like excel etc. Its a nice business on the go tool and as long as you dont lose sight of that and expect it to start making cups of tea, you wont be disappointed.
I bought a navtech leather cover/stand(be sure to order for W7 model as android is smaller)which you will immediately value because the shell casing is a little bit vulnerable without.
on 6 June 2012
This must be one of the best devices I have owned. It brings all the compatibility of Windows into a small and easy ish to use device. The only problems I have is that it is a bit hard to use the touch screen with some features of Windows. When Windows8 comes out, this should make the device much better. The HDMI out is really not much use as part of the image is missing on screen. When you receive this tablet, you should install a new copy of Windows straight away to get rid of all the bloatware that comes with it. It starts up quicker than my phone and the desktop icons are there in a few seconds due to the solid state storage. It is a great device, I have used it for time lapses with a webcam because it uses little power.
It is cheaper and better than the Ipad so the choice is perfectly clear.