Monday, February 06, 2012

With all the hype surrounding Apple and Android tablets plus the RIM train wreck story angle, a Windows tablet seems to be a forgotten product. So I thought it was prudent to have a closer look at the Acer Iconia Tab W500, a tablet that uses Windows 7. In my previous blog posts I was somewhat dissatisfied with the current crop of tablets that I could not do any work on due to a lack of a good file management system, USB ports and productivity software. Well, a Windows tablet solves all these problems.

If you are a business and want to get tablets for your employees, a Windows tablet solves interoperability issues with your desktop computer systems as you can sync it with Outlook and Microsoft Office. As a side benefit, there is no new learning curve on how to use it as 95% of computer users use Windows. But it gets better as Windows 8 will be optimized for tablets that is coming out later this year. Below is a glimpse of what Windows 8 may look like on a tablet that was unveiled at a recent trade show.

Windows 8 is the next generation operating system from Microsoft that will work on
computer and mobile devices. It is slated to be released in June of this year and we will
most likely see tablets available in the fall, just in time for Christmas.
Photo courtesy of http://tabtimes.com


Windows Smartphone Interface

Acer Iconia Tab W500 Scorecard
The gadgets in this blog for tablets will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these four criteria to arrive at the score. Acer is the second largest PC and notebooks maker in the world and its brands include Acer, Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines. They also produce monitors, smartphones, projectors and servers.

Please enter in my Kindle Fire  Tablet contest as I am giving one away every 3 months this year. ENTER HERE

 

The Acer Iconia Tab W500 tablet comes with a 1 Ghz AMD processor, its dimensions
are 10.83 (w) x 7.48 (d) x 0.63 (h) inches and weighs 2.14 lbs. Battery life is rated
for 4-6 hours. It has a HDMI slot , ethernet port, 2 USB ports and comes with a
keyboard/dock that includes a hand writing interface that works with your finger
or pen.

Download Speeds
The Acer Iconia Tab has fast download speeds via its 1 GHz AMD processor. Using a AMD processor enables the machine to stay cool to the touch as an Intel processor usually runs hot. You can access the internet through a wifi or ethernet connection. If you need a mobile access the USB port will enable you to use Internet sticks from your local ISP. The review device came packaged with the Kobo app for their digital bookstore so there is lots of ebooks at your disposal. There are plans for Windows to have an app store, but I bet a lot of the PC games in existence will work on the machines as it is essentially a mini-notebook that has a tablet option.

Readability
The screen size is 10.1 inches diagonally that enabled easy reading of all the digital magazines and websites I visited through the IE browser. It enables wide viewing angles supporting 80/80/80/80 degrees (up/down/left/right). You can switch to landscape or portrait mode and you can turn this on or off depending on your needs. It does have pinch/zoom capability, but I found it a little buggy. I did not have the nuisance of websites switching to mobile mode on the device as it was recognized as a computer not a mobile device, which I liked. It also has a light sensor to help you with different lighting conditions and when I took it outside it worked fine. Videos I watched were high definition quality.

Navigation
The touch screen worked flawlessly so navigation was a breeze, and because I was already familiar with the Windows user experience I did not have the frustration of learning a new device. The tablet did come with a unique feature called the Acer ring that enables you access to special features and touch applications. By placing five fingers in a circular pattern, the Acer ring lets you surf the web, capture screen images, post photos and status updates on you favourite social network site. Since it comes with a virtual and keyboard/dock I can switch seamlessly to computer mode and use a mouse.

Price/Features Value
The tablet comes at two price points in Canada $599 ($550 in the USA), where you get Windows 7 Home premium or for $649 ($619 in the USA) that comes with Windows 7 Professional. What I really liked is that you did not have to buy the keyboard/ dock as it came included with the tablet. Keyboards/docks in general sell for $80 on average. The tablet comes with two stereo mics, two cameras, 32 GB of memory and Flash. This is a great tablet/computer hybrid that I would use as a reading, entertainment or working device or let my kids buy for school and play. For B2B publications a Windows tablet will most likely in the future be a dominant device of their readers.

Rating – 4.0 out of 5
It’s hard to fathom that Microsoft is an underdog in the tablet market, but this is true. They have been quietly sitting on the sidelines creating a operating system that in my opinion has great potential for the working man and not just as an entertainment device with Windows 8 on the horizon. We must remember business needs are different from consumers as they need a tablet that will work with their existing IT infrastructure that is dominated by Windows desktops.

Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds for Hire also gives this device the thumbs up and would recommend this device to any of their clients that wants to buy a tablet for their employees. I imagine the Microsoft Kinect (Motion sensors) technology will be incorporated into the device at some point in its product roadmap, which will make this an even more exciting device to play with. Never underestimate the power of Microsoft, just look at what happened in the game console market, they were the last one to enter with the Xbox and now they are one of the market leaders (at least with my kids).

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About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners online publishing, ad sales and acquisition/selling brokerage services. His media services also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He also moonlights as a pro goalie as a "rent a goalie" at mypuck.com.
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