Product Review: Acer Iconia Tab W500

Product Review: Acer Iconia Tab W500

Product:Acer Iconia Tab W500

Retail Price: $549

By Dr. Henry C. Thiele

The Acer 10.1-inch tablet runs Windows 7 and includes an additional docking station and keyboard built in as a case. It is similar in size and shape to an iPad, if you add a keyboard accessory to it, but slightly heavier.

Quality and Effectiveness
No matter how unfair, any computer company looking to enter the tablet market is going to be compared to an iPad. The Acer Icona Tab W500 is no exception. This tablet however runs a full version of Windows 7, which makes it a much more appropriate teaching tool for a classroom teacher. Running Flash, and all of the familiar desktop applications, teachers and students can use this device much more like a familiar computing experience and yet have the tablet feel. For my teachers already using tablets this would be a great device to easily pick up and begin to use.

Ease of Use
Since this works just like any other Windows 7 laptop, teachers and students will hop right on and work like on any other computer. It also adds the tablet interface with all of the gestures we have learned to use with tablet technology. The touch screen is better than most, yet not quite as responsive as an iPad. The major downside of this device is the lack of a stylus, or digital pen. Windows 7 offers incredible “inking” technology and is very responsive to handwriting recognition, all of which is lost when you go from a pen to a finger.

Creative Use of Technology
The innovativn a detachable clamshell style really sets this device apart. “The detachable keyboard design is very slick and easy to use,” commented Kevin Hurley, a math teacher at Maine South High School.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment
The fact that you are working on a real computer with usb drives, integrated SD card reader, dual cameras, and HDMI video out makes the Acer Iconia Tab W500 a much more versatile tool for the classroom than other tablet options. Several of my teachers are recording presentations using tablets and Jing, which the iPad and Android tablets do not support. This type of a device would be well received by teachers as a multi-purpose presentation and work device. Mr. Hurley, who has used a tablet PC for instruction for the past three years, reported that the device is "easy to hand to students" and "intuitive for them.”

Top features:

  • For the price of other popular tablets running a mobile operating system you gain a full operating system, a keyboard, and an “eraser tip” two-button mouse. This allows for easy creation of content as well as consumption.
  • The device is relatively light, intuitive, and responsive to natural gestures.
  • The ability to run Flash gives the classroom teacher access to the full range of materials on the Web.