Friday, April 1, 2011

Acer Iconia–neat concept, almost

Acer has recently announced US pricing ($1199) for their Iconia dual 14" touchscreen monster, and the reviews are coming out. I had a chance to play with it CES, and it's a very intriguing concept. I can just imagine it sideways on a music stand with each screen displaying a page of music. It's exactly what I was hoping for, almost.
  1. No active digitizer. This will make mark up more difficult. I tested my capacitive stylus on it at CES, and it was not very responsive. I've run into several capacitive screens that respond acceptably to the stylus, but this was not one of them. Imagine how awesome it would be to have the accuracy of an active pen for marking up music. Or how great it would be for students to have a text book and a webpage open side by side on the top screen, and OneNote on the bottom.
  1. Battery life is terrible. I understand that it's trying to drive mainstream components and two 14" displays, but under 3 hours is less than a full rehearsal. But these are the current gen i-5s. An upgrade to Sandy Bridge should improve battery life.
  1. Weight. 6lbs is a lot. The Kno managed to do dual 14" screens in much less than that, although with smartphone guts rather than mainstream laptop specs. And it's not like Kno have actually managed to ship their product, despite it being on sale for some time now, you need an invitation to get one and they are "prioritizing students who commit to sharing their experiences."
Despite these shortcomings, I will admit to being strongly tempted to pick one up. I love the idea of the flexibility of the bottom panel being a keyboard if you need it, or anything else when you don't. I can type on the iPad reasonably well, and while it's no substitute for a physical keyboard, I think the software keyboard would be okay for most things. You can always pair a BT keyboard for longer things. Imagine it propped up sideways and paired with a keyboard and mouse - it's like dual monitors.

There's so much potential in this form factor, but it needs an active digitizer and Sandy Bridge processors for better battery life.

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