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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Consider: the Acer Iconia. Is it a laptop with an identity crisis? Or is it a tablet with a chip on its shoulder? Just what is this hybrid dual-screen thingamajig? Take a look at our hands-on photos to find out.

The Iconia shares its name with Acer's tablet line-up, including the Iconia Tab A500. It's not as portable as a tablet, weighing as much as a laptop. Even if the two screens were split into separate devices, they'd still be huge, at 14 inches across. Yes, we've made up our minds, even if Acer can't: this is a laptop.

The Iconia runs Windows 7, with the multitouch Acer ring interface that lets you launch apps and features with a swipe or tap of your fingertips. Inside there's an Intel Core i5 processor.

The Iconia packs not one but two Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit 14-inch 1,366x768-resolution screens. One is in the normal place, and the other replaces the keyboard. That's powered by Windows 7, which is set up to be used with a touchscreen.

The touchscreen keyboard means the Iconia can display different ways for you to interact with the computer. It can show different international keyboards in different languages, or dispense with a keyboard altogether.

When we started using the touchscreen, we initially found ourselves tapping on the screen and getting confused when it didn't do what we wanted. That's because we were only looking at the screen we were using. Over time, we'd have to get used to doing something on one screen and the result happening on the other screen.

That's okay for a laptop, because physical keyboards never change, so with practice you can look at the screen and ignore the keyboard, or at least get used to flicking your eyes between them. This is a new form factor, though, so it will inevitably take some getting used to.

What do you think of the Iconia? Will it achieve iconic status?

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The multi-touch onscreen keyboard, including a trackpad.
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An alternative interface can also be displayed, like these media controls.
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Handwriting input turns your squiggles into text.
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As you can see, the second touchscreen is very reflective.
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