1 1 Hands on with Acers Iconia Tab W500, A500 and A100

We went past Acer at the MWC and got some hands on time with the Iconia Tab W500 AMD Ontario tablet that also doubles up as a netbook thanks to its keyboard dock. We also took a quick look at the Iconia Tab A500 and A100 Android tablets, both sporting a Tegra 250 SoC and Android 3.0.

We went past Acer at the MWC and got some hands on time with the Iconia Tab W500 AMD Ontario tablet that also doubles up as a netbook thanks to its keyboard dock. We also took a quick look at the Iconia Tab A500 and A100 Android tablets, both sporting a Tegra 250 SoC and Android 3.0.

The keyboard and trackpoint felt very solid and was the part that we were the most impressed by during our quick hands on with the W500. However, we heard quite a few visitors at the Acer stand at the MWC comment about how thick and heavy the tablet part was. With a 9W AMD C-50 dual core 1GHz APU it's going to be a fairly chunky tablet, as the AMD APU requires more cooling than the SoC in an ARM based tablet, as well as a larger battery pack. The weight of the tablet is quite noticeable when it's docked in the keyboard dock, as it feels quite top heavy this way.

iconia w500 Hands on with Acers Iconia Tab W500, A500 and A100

We didn't really get a good feel of how the W500 compares to your average netbook in terms of performance, as a quick play on a show floor isn't the right place for this. However, we did grab a shot of the Windows 7 performance index and it's clear that the CPU power of AMD's C-50 isn't quite up to scratch with that of Intel's much higher clocked Atom dual core mobile processors, but the graphics performance is vastly superior. The W500 will hit retail in March and we only have UK pricing at hand, where it'll cost £449 (S$930) without the keyboard dock and £529 (S$1,095) with, which seems a little bit on the steep side.

As for the A500, well, despite it too having a 10-inch panel, it feels much more like the kind of tablet products we're used to seeing. Acer will be offering two different models, the A500 with Wi-Fi only and the A501 with Wi-Fi and 3Gbut as far as we know; the two models are otherwise identical. As far as the 1GHz Tegra 250 Cortex-A9 dual core SoC is concerned it wasn't exactly easy to gauge the performance although Acer had a game that looked like a Diablo clone running on it which played very smooth, even on the relatively high resolution 1280×800 screen.

iconia a500 Hands on with Acers Iconia Tab W500, A500 and A100

The A500 will come with either 16 or 32GB of eMMC storage memory and 1GB of LP DDR2 memory which is a pretty healthy amount in both cases. There's of course also a micro SD card slot that accepts cards up to 64GB in size. Other features include a rear 5Megapixel camera, a front 2Megapixel camera, 802.1b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, although the spec sheet mentions that this is “upgradeable” to Bluetooth 3.0, but doesn't go into any further details, a micro HDMI port, a micro USB 2.0 port, a USB 2.0 host port for mass storage devices or even a mouse and keyboard. Acer claims up to 10h of battery life using Wi-Fi for surfing, although playing back 720p HD content from YouTube apparently brings this down to 8h. The A500 is set to hit retail sometime in April for a yet unknown price point.

Finally we have the smallest model out of the three, the A100 which is a 7-incher which pretty much has the same base spec as the A500. As with the A500, the A100 will also be available in a 3G A101 model, but on top of this Acer is also considering a CDMA2000 version for the US market. The 7-inch screen has a lower resolution at 1024×600 compared to the A500 and it also lacks the USB host port. The touch screen is also slightly less complex and it has a less power dense battery which only lasts 5h when watching 720p HD YouTube content. The A100 is also said to launch in April and as with the A500, no pricing was revealed.

iconia a100 Hands on with Acers Iconia Tab W500, A500 and A100

Our first impression of Acer's new Android tablets is quite favourable, as the build quality felt good, in fact better so than the W500 which is meant to launch ahead of the Android models. What we're not so sure about is how popular either model will be, although as long as Acer price them right, there's definitely some potential there, especially considering how much Motorola is rumoured to be asking for its Xoom tablet. It's taken quite some time, but it looks like Acer is finally starting to get its mobile computing products right as far as features and usability is concerned.