The UPS man dropped the Iconia off at my place this morning and after an awkward exchange wherein he joked that he didn’t think it’d be safe to leave the laptop in my foyer even though I had to sign for it (Then why would you leave it there, Elias?! Why?!), it’s now sitting on my desk.
I’ll be putting the laptop through its paces shortly, but here are some initial impressions so far.
It’s definitely unique.
It’s one of the weirdest computing devices I’ve used in recent memory. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but using the Iconia isn’t exactly what I’d call intuitive at first. Everything’s touchable but the computer is too big to actually be used like a tablet, which brings us to…
At six pounds and well over an inch thick, there’s a definite mental disconnect between what looks and feels like a big laptop yet is supposed to be used similarly to a tablet. The more I play with this thing, the less and less I’m inclined to take it from room to room or even move it at all.
It’s shaping up to be a computer that you leave plugged in on a desk. The four-cell battery doesn’t last that long since it has to power two screens, too, so the thickness and weight of the laptop aren’t much of an issue if you’re going to leave the computer in one place all the time.
The touch interface is pretty good.
Acer’s custom “Ring” interface works pretty well. You press your four fingers and thumb down on the bottom screen to bring it up and you’re presented with a custom dual-screen web browser (Internet Explorer), music, video, photo and scrapbooking apps.
Unfortunately, the rest of Windows 7 isn’t exactly ideal for navigating with the touchscreen and regular applications can’t be spread across both screens. Every program window can be moved from one screen to the other, though.
The touch keyboard and trackpad are okay.
I thought the keyboard would be the biggest strike against this laptop but it’s actually not too bad. I can’t imagine doing a whole lot of serious typing on it—I’ll test that theory out over the next week, though. As for the trackpad, I find myself wishing it was bigger. I’m using it to navigate Windows a lot even though the main screen is a touchscreen as well.
The screens leave a bit to be desired.
The screens don’t get very bright, they’re both pretty reflective, and they’re both fingerprint magnets. And you can’t rotate them into landscape mode to use the Iconia like a book. The custom software doesn’t work in landscape mode, so every time you try to rotate the screens they rotate back automatically to accommodate the software.
It’s got potential (I think).
Two screens are better than one, right? That’s the rule. That’s how it goes. I’m still having a little trouble wrapping my head around the whole concept of a six pound laptop with two 14-inch touchscreens, but I need to dig into the custom touch interface and software a whole lot more. I haven’t even scratched the surface of the handwriting recognition, custom gestures, digital scrapbooking, or tried to do any serious work on it yet.
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