iPhone, iPad, tablet, tablet tablet. I’m worn out listening to how wonderful the almighty “i”… is. I’ve had an iPhone, it wouldn’t place or receive calls reliably. I returned it.
I also have an iPad. It is slow and I can’t use it for my work applications so unless I just want to sit and slowly surf or listen to iMusic, it’s worthless. I know all about the hype that says “it’s so easy”, it just works, it does what “most” people want to do, blah, blah, blah. Yes, it’s absolutely wonderful if I want to make a complete lifestyle change and sit chortling with my pals at the club. For a handy to carry “computer” that allows me to do light work in airports or on the go, it’s an absolute bust. I understand it’s not designed to replace laptops but geesh, stop with the iCoolAde, it’s a toy.
Whew, I feel better now, but not completely redeemed. Why? Because I still think there should be a piece of kit that is as portable as an iPad but able to do real work. I need something that is better suited for mobile connectivity than my 10 pound, 17″ Gateway Laptop.
After a solid year of looking I have ordered what I hope is a great tablet. It’s an Acer W500 tablet. With any luck it will arrive here in two days. It comes with a docking station that serves as a keyboard. It has a couple of usb ports and even a card reader on the keyboard. It uses Windows7 so I’ll be able to enjoy flash, java, and all the regular programs that I need for work. I will be able to use Microsoft Word and Excel just like my desktop.
I’m hoping for the best. I’ve been looking for tweaks that I can apply to it. The only information I’ve seen so far advises me to remove all of the Acer supplied touch applications. We’ll find out what that’s all about. Now, WHERE’S THAT UPS TRUCK
Just like magic, the door bell rings, the dogs are barking and there it is.
Acer Iconia Tablet W500-BZ467
Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
AMD 1 Gig Dual-Core Processor A50M/L2 Cache 1MB * Display 10.1″/Multi-touch screen, supporting finger touch and image auto rotation*Wide viewing angle, supporting up to 80/80/80/80 degrees (up/down/left/right)*Display Type Wide XGA 1280 x 800*Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6250*HDD 32GB SSD**Memory 2GB DDR3*LAN 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet*802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN*Bluetooth 3.0+HS*Ports 2 x USB 2.0*1 x HDMI
Keyboard Full-Size Acer FineTip Keyboard
Acer FineTrack with two FineTrack buttons
2-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader for Secure Digital (SD) Card, MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Dual 1.3MP Acer Crystal Eye Webcams (1280 x 1024)
1 x Microphone jack; 1 x Headphone jack
Two Built-in Stereo Speakers
3-Cell Li-Polymer (3260 mAh)
Up to 6-hours for Internet Browsing
Up to 4-hours for HD Video Playback
Tablet: 10.83″ x 7.48″ x 0.63″
Dock: 10.83″ x 7.48″ x 0.43″ – 0.77″
Tablet Only: 2.14 lbs
Dock Only: 1.34 lbs
Unboxing is simple and something I can actually handle without much trouble. The tablet itself actually fits on the dock/keyboard rather intuitively. I had read earlier that it was extremely top heavy while in the dock and that information was correct. The problem this creates will become more obvious to me later. The power plug on the other hand is just goofey enough that I do it twice. I actually have to look at the instructions to find the power button.
It boots and I’m removing worthless bloat as fast as I can. BHAM!! McAfee is gone. I’m searching and finding the next victim. I’ve got the tablet in the dock/keyboard, sitting on an end table by the couch and I’m typing without too much trouble. The keyboard although smaller than my 17″ Gateway desktop replacement is rather nice to use but something is happening. I’m starting to use the touch screen. It doesn’t take too long before I’m using the touch screen and acessing the touch keyboard until, YIKES, the whole darn thing falls over backwards onto the floor. It’s now in two pieces. I pick it up, check it, and there doesn’t seem to be any damage. I put it back on the dock/keyboard and take note of just how top heavy and awkward the design really is.
After a couple of days I’m relatively comfortable using the touch screen. What I’ve discovered is that while the touch screen and tablet capabilities are great, the touch keyboard is a different bird entirely. It’s easily accessable and it’s OK for a one word response but too small and confining to write emails, or any response longer than about 1 or 2 words. It’s not that it can’t be done it’s just not pleasant. And here is where the problem with the docking station and hardware keyboard comes into play. When I purchased this unit I was looking for something that would fill in for a laptop during quick mobile situations. I thought the optional keyboard and docking station would be ideal, and it would have been if they had spent some time on the design.
Connecting the tablet to the keyboard doesn’t lock it in. It can separate at the drop of a hat. It is too tippy and fragile to use on your lap or any uneven or flexible surface. This is a real problem because your natural inclination to use the touch screen knocks the tablet over backwards and seperates the tablet from the dock.
The second big design error is that it doesn’t close. You can’t fold the screen onto the keyboard and carry it. This causes the setup to be very hard to carry because it must be in an open configuration. I can remove the tablet from the dock but then I’m left carrying two appliances and mobility has come to a screeching halt.
This is really bad news. The size of the tablet is great. The screen resolution and quality are excellent. Windows7 and the touch interface are actually very nice. Even the sound quality coming from the dual speakers is impressive. The one feature that would have set the W500 into a class by itself fails to pass the test. The keyboard was the one thing that drew me to it and this is the one thing works like it was designed by monkeys. The item is a failure. It’s nothing more than a tablet
I think this has finally convinced me that there is never going to be a single appliance that is a one size fits all for communication. Hardware is diverse for a reason. Want to read books and email, get a tablet. Want to place phone calls, get a phone? Want to work with Word, Excel or other office apps, get a decent laptop? Want to sit and open dozens of windows and multitask at the speed of light, get a powerful desktop with dual 24″ monitors.
I’m not sure why man has always wanted to invent the perfect multi-function tool, it must be something in our genes. The Swiss Army Knife is a great tool for emergencies but I wouldn’t want t skin a buffalo with it.