Recently, I acquired an Acer Iconia Tab W500, and here is my review. The Iconia is a 10.1″ Windows tablet PC. I wanted a tablet, and after some research I purchased this one. My main contemplations were between the Iconia and the MSI WindPad 110W. Without further a-do: the review.
The Iconia is one of a few Windows tablets out on the market currently, and even fewer utilize the AMD Bobcat APUs as the Iconia does. Windows tablets are scarce because Microsoft hasn’t released a tablet OS yet, but Windows 8 is just that and will come with a huge influx of tablets. I wanted to give Windows 8 a try with the Developer Preview, so immediately after receiving the tablet, I upgraded to Windows 8 Developer Preview. Initially, I started with the 64-bit version, but discovered not all of the drivers were supported, and installed the 32-bit version instead. I picked this tablet up off of eBay as a refurbished model for $355, new they run about $500.
- AMD 1GHz C-50
- 2GB DDR3 1066
- 10.1″ 1280 × 800 LED Multi-touch screen
- AMD Radeon HD 6250 256MB Graphics
- 32GB mSATA SSD
- Keyboard Dock
The WindPad was a close second to the Iconia in my opinion. Most of the specifications were similar, but a few things set them apart. The Iconia has a C-Series APU whereas the WindPad has a Z-Series, both are 1GHz dual-cores. The Z-Series was purposed for tablets and requires less wattage, and the C-Series for laptops. So, in theory the WindPad should have better battery life. However, the Iconia has a 3-cell battery and the WindPad has a 2-cell which makes the Iconia last longer.
Another big factor for me personally to choose the Iconia was the full-size HDMI port where the WindPad has a mini-HDMI. Also, the WindPad has a 0.1″ smaller screen which is not that big of a deal, but notable.
A couple things where the WindPad soared was expandability. The WindPad is capable of being upgraded to double the hard-drive and RAM to 64GB and 4GB. The Iconia’s hard-drive can be upgraded, but the mSATA SSD technology is expensive and requires some computer expertise to install to the tablet. The Iconia’s RAM is not upgradeable as far as I can tell.
The Iconia comes with a keyboard dock, which enables to tablet to act as a netbook to some extent. One thing I was disappointed to see with this feature was you can not simply close the tablet like a netbook, you have to detach the tablet from the dock and simply latch it on top. The keyboard is really nice because it makes the Iconia a good transition between a laptop and tablet.
A downside for the Iconia is that the USB 2.0 ports are on the bottom which can get annoying. However, the screen can rotate any which-way, so you can easily turn the tablet upside-down and use a USB device like that. Although, with a case you won’t be able to prop up, but the keyboard dock has USB ports on the side which is nice.
The Iconia Tab excels in your standard tablet usage (playing Angry Birds, browsing Facebook, etc.). The battery lasts a good 5-6 hours with this kind of usage. However, the advertised 1080p playback, isn’t so great. While playing Netflix, I had to throttle back the quality because at full quality the video would lag behind the audio. Standard internet videos, like YouTube, look great in 720p but 1080p is a bit iffy.
If it were possible to overclock the CPU, I feel HD video playback would be perfect. I also think that Windows 8 has too many background applications, especially with the Metro-Style Apps. I did not test HD playback on Windows 7, so I don’t know if this theory is true or not, but I did do my best to cut back CPU usage on background applications when watching Netflix. I might try using Ubuntu to see if that is any better.
I purchased a leather case from JKase which at first would not close properly, but after use stretched out. The case is nice and can be propped up in 3 positions. I also purchased a stylus from rooCASE which helps a lot and I highly suggest one.
I feel the Iconia Tab W500 is an excellent tablet, especially for those who are transitioning from a Windows laptop. Paired with Windows 8 and the keyboard dock, this tablet has all the features of netbook or laptop and still the flexibility and mobility of a tablet (+4.5 Stars). The HD video playback is lacking, but can get by with 720p (-0.5 Stars). The hard-drive space is significant for a tablet, but could be better, and difficult to upgrade (-0.2 Stars).
With a price tag of $550 new, this price is a bit much. However, you can easily snag a used of refurbished model for around $350 – $400 which makes this tablet worth it. If you are looking for a Windows based tablet, or trying to migrate to tablets after using a laptop for years, I would definitely recommend the Acer Iconia Tab W500.