Looking Through the Acer Window
Tablets, by themselves, might not be able to provide the complete experience one gets with a full-fledged notebook. For better or worse, Acer’s decision to include a keyboard dock and preloading Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium for the W500 was made to enhance the tablet experience.
And here’s where we question the soundness of these two decisions. In our opinion, the keyboard dock is a nice touch. While it lacks an integrated battery to recharge the W500 and extend its usability, the dock does give you the option to churn your documents out without the hassle of a virtual keyboard. Yet, our experience with the cramped keyboard says otherwise. Every keystroke required a conscious effort to check our word accuracy. Typing speeds were generally slower than usual, with each key seemingly fighting for space on the limited real estate.
Without a touchpad, the W500 opted for a small track button located on the center of the dock. We found the nipple mouse too stiff for efficient use. Fortunately, the dock also comes with two USB ports, giving us the option to connect a mouse.
Its operating system choice is a point of contention. While most tablets have chosen Google Android Honeycomb (which Acer also adopted with the Acer Iconia Tab A500), the W500 is powered by Microsoft's Windows 7 Home Premium. This isn’t the first Windows 7 tablet that was recently launched. Earlier on, we had a quick run with the Redfox WizPad, which also comes in two flavors. One of which, is Windows 7 Home Premium, and needless to say, we weren’t too impressed with how it handled Microsoft’s OS.
The W500 shares the same usability woes, and we spent more time trying to tap on the icons that aren’t optimized for its 10.1-inch screen. If you think about it, the mouse cursor is much more precise than our fingers, thus we would still prefer to use a USB mouse to interact with the tablet.