The tablet that made the biggest splash wasn't actually a tablet at all; it was a dual-display PC called the Iconia. Acer is calling it a dual-PC tablet and it's a lot like the dual-screen laptop concepts we've seen in the past. If you're thinking Microsoft's Courier, so were we. Acer has managed to nip in and produce and announce a similar product before Microsoft could even get around to talking about its plans for the canned device.
The Iconia packs two 14-inch (1366x768) LED-backlit TFT Gorilla Glass LCDs, an Intel Core i5 CPU, up to 4GB of DDR3, integrated Intel HD graphics, up to 750GB HDD storge, VGA and HDMI out, 802.11b/g/n, WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0+HD integrated 3G WWAN, gigabit Ethernet and Windows 7. At 6.18 pounds, this puppy is a little on the heavy side, but when it looks this good, we kind of don't care so much. Battery life is very disappointing, a mere 2.5 to 3 hours we're told, but that's to be expected when you've got those big, bright displays and only a 4-cell battery to run the whole show.
It's an impressive enough device all on its own, but the Iconia's biggest boon is the unique multitouch experience that it offers. Though the bottom display acts as a full screen keyboard, this can be chopped and changed to suit whatever task you're doing at the time. Placing five fingers on the bottom display will bring up what's called the Acer Ring. From there you can control media applications, such as music and video, or launch the virtual keyboard. You can also use the Gesture Editor to set customized gestures to perform certain tasks (like launch apps, show desktop, or lock computer), and close the keyboard completely for a more immersive browsing experience.
It's all very touchy feely and, as the world's first 10-finger multitouch laptop, it's sure to garner a lot of attention. Still, there's no tactile feedback from the keyboard and the few minutes we spent on the computer didn't leave us with a great impression. A full-size touchscreen keyboard is only an attractive option if you think a touchscreen keyboard is an option at all. It was difficult to type on and the trackpad tended to click in places you didn't want it to. Fans of hardware keyboards will not be happy on this machine.
The Iconia wasn't the only tablet Acer had on show today, though. The company also showed off three Android tablets in 4.8-inch, 7-inch and 10.1-inch flavors. The smallest of the three packs a 1024 x 480-resolution screen (21:9 aspect ratio), support for Flash 10.1, Bluetooth 3.0, a 1GHz Snapdragon, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and a 2MP front-facing camera for video calling. Availability for this device is set for April 2011.
Next up are the 10.1- and 7-inch tablets. We know they'll both be running Honeycomb, which is expected early next year and is optimized for tablets. Unfortunately, Acer has no plans to launch the devices without Honeycomb and update them later, so the release date is still very much up in the air. Still, we do know that the larger of the two features that same ten-point multitouch that we've already seen on the Iconia. It also boasts integrated WiFi and 3G along with 1080p video via HDMI out and two cameras. Unfortunately, Acer was a lot less generous with details for the 10.1-inch than the 7-inch. The company was more than happy to divulge the fact that the 7-inch packs a dual-core processor, a 7-inch 1280 x 800-resolution (16:10) full touch display, a HD camera, support for Flash 10.1, and integrated WiFi and 3G. We assume the 10.1-inch is just as blessed when it comes down to stuff like CPU, but it would be nice to know just what else it's got going on aside from a bigger display. Similar to the phone, availability for both of these is set for April 2011.