Acer Iconia Tab W500 review: an adaptable Windows 7 tablet

The included keyboard dock gives this tablet the flexibility to imitate a laptop, but it also introduces considerable bulk.

By Michelle Mastin, PC World |  Hardware, Acer, hardware

The Acer W500 keyboard dock deals with the same issue through a combination of mounting the tablet a little forward and angling the back of the keyboard up. The chunky backside of the keyboard dock makes the whole package thick, but it also provides a good angle for typing, and it helps prevent the tablet from tipping backward on a desk. Even so, the design doesn't make for an entirely stable combo when placed on a user's lap.

When the tablet is docked in the keyboard, the machine looks a lot like a notebook; but closing it isn't a simple matter of folding the screen forward. The tablet attaches to the dock via a USB port and two guide poles, and you have to lift it off the port and completely separate it from the keyboard. Then the USB port and guide poles fold into the keyboard dock. The dock attaches to the front of the tablet by means of a magnet in the back and a latch in the front; ultimately this design protects the screen and helps to balance the tablet, though it's not the most elegant arrangement I've seen.

Another design oddity of the keyboard dock is that, aside from occupying a USB port on the bottom of the tablet, it also blocks the other USB port on the bottom. Fortunately the dock has a USB port on each side--in addition to an ethernet port on the left--so even when two are blocked by the dock, you have two available.

When you start typing, you'll see the benefit of the extra-large bezel around the display. The additional width on the tablet permits the keyboard to be extra-wide, and Acer takes full advantage of that width by spreading the keys all the way to the edges. Though slightly smaller than full-size keys, they make for an uncramped layout. The keys are slightly wobbly, however, and the mechanism under them is stiff, with the result that about 1 in 20 of my key presses failed to register.

Since the tablet sits forward on the dock, the keyboard goes all the way to the front edge of the dock, leaving no room for a trackpad. A little trackstick in the middle of the keyboard provides a way to push the cursor around; alternatively, you can poke at the touchscreen with your hand. The mouse buttons are small and sit on the front edge of the keyboard. The left click is well positioned for pressing with your thumb, but the latch for closing the keyboard to the screen sits between the left and right clicks, which pushes the right button too far to the side for convenient pressing.

Since the dock holds the screen on a foldout USB port, the angle of attachment is fixed. Luckily, it's a good one. The screen isn't an IPS panel, but you can view the screen through a range of about 80 degrees in any direction before losing brightness or experiencing color shifting. The display's brightness is good enough to withstand even obnoxiously bright office lighting.

Performance


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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