Acer's Iconia dual touch-screen laptop makes another appearance

Walking the line between tablet and laptop, the Acer Iconia has two 14-inch screens, both of which are multitouch-enabled.

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LAS VEGAS--Not exactly new to CES, Acer's inventive Iconia laptop is making another appearance here. Back in November 2010, the dual touch-screen system was shown off in New York , along with a few Acer tablets, but little has been heard of it since.

Walking the line between tablet and laptop, the Iconia has two 14-inch screens, both of which are multitouch-enabled. The bottom screen can display content, a traditional QWERTY keyboard, or a variety of other control surfaces.

When we first saw it (and snagged a demo unit for a hands-on video tour ), we said, "Iconia is, at its heart, a Core i5 laptop with familiar specs: up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel graphics, a hard drive up to 750GB, and Windows 7 Home Premium. Ports are also typical for a high-end laptop: two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, HDMI, and VGA."

In hands-on use, it seemed fast and responsive, and the onscreen typing function was usable, though awkward at first. It's similar to the Toshiba Libretto W100 , which also had a dual touch-screen design, but crammed into two 7-inch screens. On the larger 14-inch screens, it feels much more natural, but as with iPad typing, there's sure to be a learning curve. We haven't spent enough hands-on time with the Iconia to tell if it'll be more than a gimmick, or if it will ever be as easy to use as a traditional keyboard.

That said, we've gotten so good at iPad typing that we're open-minded about the idea of an onscreen laptop keyboard. Cleverly, it's designed so that touching the bottom display with all 10 fingers automatically launches a virtual keyboard, while one open-fingered hand launches Acer's proprietary wheel-like control panel for applications.

The Acer Iconia still doesn't have an exact release date or retail price, but we'll post an update when that information is available.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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