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Acer W500-BZ467 review: Acer W500-BZ467

Acer W500-BZ467

Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
6 min read

Editors' note: Although CNET didn't review the Acer Iconia Tab W500 BZ467, we did review the Acer Iconia Tab W500 BZ841, which is the same tablet except for one little detail. The BZ841 comes with Windows 7 Professional, while the BZ467 includes Windows 7 Premium.


Acer W500-BZ467

The Good

The <b>Acer Iconia Tab W500</b> has a clever design that allows you to detach its Netbook-like screen for use as a standalone tablet.

The Bad

The keyboard dock is a pain to connect or disconnect; you can't simply fold it shut like a laptop; and there's no touch pad, only a trackpoint stick.

The Bottom Line

The Acer Iconia Tab W500 works in several potentially good ideas, undone by half-baked physical design that makes it needlessly frustrating to use.

Windows tablets have been around for years, in the form of slates and convertible laptops with touch-screen lids that rotate and fold down over the keyboard. To date, many of these have been disappointing, largely because they failed on either the software or hardware fronts, or both. The Windows OS is simply not designed for fingertip (or even stylus) input, and the CPUs used to power most Windows tablets have been so underpowered as to make these devices mostly useless.

Stepping into the ring following the launch of Apple's second-generation iPad is the Acer Iconia Tab W500 . Similar to Lenovo's (still MIA U1) Hybrid and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the 10.1-inch W500 consists of a touch-screen slate and a separate keyboard dock. When combined, the two halves form something close to a traditional laptop. The W500 is $549 with Windows 7 Home Premium, or $619 with Windows 7 Professional. Both versions have 2GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. (Acer also makes a keyboard-less Android version, called the Iconia A500.)

In the case of the Acer W500, we saw a lot of potentially good ideas, but the overall effect was undone by half-baked physical design. After struggling with docking, undocking, and folding down the W500, it's clear that if any designer at Apple presented this product in its current form to Steve Jobs, they'd quickly find themselves reassigned as the night janitor at an Apple store in Siberia.

Price as reviewed $549
Processor 1.0GHz AMD C-50
Memory 2GB, 667MHz DDR3
Hard drive 32GB SSD
Chipset AMD ID1510
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 6250
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions (WD) 10.8 x 7.4 inches
Height 0.62 inches (in tablet mode)
Screen size (diagonal) 10.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 3.5/3.9 pounds
Category Netbook

When the screen and keyboard of the W500 are connected to each other, it looks much like any other 10-inch Netbook, with a drab gray-and-black design and chunky body. It's so laptop-like, it feels like one should be able to simply fold it shut, like any other clamshell design. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

To close the system, you must pull the screen straight up, detaching it from the keyboard, and then close a flap on the keyboard dock that covers the docking connection. From there, the screen is placed on top of the keyboard, face down, where a small magnet in one corner holds it in place (sort of). Finally, a physical latch on the front lip of the dock has to get pushed into place. After all that, you have something that looks pretty much like a closed laptop, although if it's not handled exactly right, the two halves will come apart.

To take the closed system and convert it back to a faux laptop the steps must be reversed, which is, if that's even possible, a more awkward exercise. It also means the system is literally impossible to either open or close one-handed.

Taking a lesson from the recent 14-inch dual-screen Iconia laptop (which is really a very fun machine to play with), Acer includes a few custom tablet-oriented apps. As on the larger Iconia, tapping down with five fingertips on the screen brings up a jogwheel-like menu, which grants access to finger-friendly apps such as a social media browser and augmented Web browser. The TouchBrowser, as it's called, is easier to use than a standard Web browser, but these custom apps all took several long seconds to launch, which slowed us down considerably.

The separate keyboard dock has shallow but acceptable island-style keys, but in tablet mode, using the built-in Windows onscreen keyboard, remains a challenge.

The keyboard dock includes only a trackpoint for onscreen navigation. We'd much prefer a touch pad, even a tiny one, especially as the left and right mouse buttons for the trackpoint are so narrow and mounted right on the front lip of the keyboard dock. Note that the W500 keyboard dock only works when connected to the tablet though its proprietary plug, so you can't use it wirelessly as one might with a Bluetooth iPad keyboard.

Acer Iconia W500 Average for category [Netbook]
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone jack Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

The W500 skips the standard VGA video-out port, and instead substitutes an HDMI port, which seems like a positive, but may depend on your specific video needs. It also includes Bluetooth, missing from many 10-inch Netbooks, but note that the two USB ports are located in the keyboard base, not in the detachable screen, so you won't be able to use them in tablet mode.

The W500 performs about as well, if not better, than other small-screen Windows tablets we've tested over the years. Even with the low-power processor, we were able to stream Netflix video and scroll through Web pages with a minimum of stuttering. Powered by AMD's 1GHz dual-core C-50 processor, the touch screen was responsive, and dragging a finger down the screen actually resulted in something close to satisfactory scrolling--a task many Windows tablets seem to especially have trouble with.

Matched up against other Netbooks and ultraportable laptops, the W500 was comparable in our benchmark tests with systems using Intel's standard dual-core Atom N550 CPU, but well behind AMD's step-up E-350, which is found in several 11-inch laptops (and we'd be very eager to check out a future tablet with that Fusion E-350 processor).

Annual energy consumption cost

Juice box
Acer Iconia W500 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.77
Sleep (10 percent) 0.87
Idle (25 percent) 4.43
Load (5 percent) 14.8
Raw kWh 20.99
Annual energy cost $2.38

The battery life on the Acer W500 is a mixed bag. At 4 hours and 6 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, it's solid for a Netbook and much better than most previous Windows tablets. But, in the wake of recent non-Windows tablets that can run for twice that or more (admittedly using different hardware and operating system software), consumers may have different expectations for tablet battery life today.

Acer includes a standard one-year warranty with the W500, and the company's support Web site is good at providing a list of appropriate driver software and FAQ pages for your particular model of laptop. The telephone support number can be hard to find; try 800-816-2237 between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. PT, but you'll probably need your system's serial or SSID number.

Jalbum photo conversion test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations
Acer Iconia Tab W500
Windows 7 Home Premium; 1GHz AMD C-50 Dual-Core; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 384MB (Dedicated) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 6250; 32GB SanDisk SSD

ViewSonic ViewPad 10
Windows 7 Home Premium/Android 1.6; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 3150; 16GB SanDisk SSD

Dell Latitude 2120
Windows 7 Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 Dual-Core; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Seagate 5400rpm

Toshiba Libretto W105-L251
Windows 7 Home Premium; 1.2GHz Intel Pentium U5400; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 728MB (Shared) Intel GMA HD; 62GB Toshiba SSD

Archos 9 PC Tablet
Windows 7 Starter; 1.1GHz Intel Atom Z515; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 250MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 500; 60GB Toshiba 4200rpm


Acer W500-BZ467

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 7Performance 6Battery 7Support 7
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