Oct 29, 2011

Acer Iconia Tab W501P Review

Specs:
Model Acer Iconia Tab W501P C62GO3iss
P/N: LE.L0603.038
Model: EAB00
OS: Windows 7® Professional 32-bit
Processor: AMD Dual-Core C-60
LCD: 10.1" Multi-touch HD LED LCD
Memory: 2GB Memory
Storage: 32GB SSD
Card Reader: 2-in-1 card reader
WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n & BT 3.0 + HS
WWAN: 3G WAN
Webcam: 1.3 Megapixel
Battery: 3-cell Li-ion battery
Software: Microsoft Office 2010 preloaded (purchase a license key to activate)
Microsoft Office Starter 2010


Introduction:
I was tremendously curious about the performance of both AMD C-60 processor and it's ATI GPU. I was expecting that it would be possible to play Full-HD flash movies at 30 fps. I'm at Czech Republic, and I ran to the first Acer Iconia TAB W501P that was available at http://alza.cz/. The main differences to W500 is that the W501P has 3G modem and is equipped with AMD C-60 instead of AMD C-50. According to http://www.amd.com/us/products/notebook/apu/ultrathin/Pages/ultrathin.aspx#3, the C-60 can run up to 1333 MHz and it's GPU can run up to 400 MHz, while C-50 maximums are 1000MHz for the CPU and 276 MHz for the GPU.


First impression
As the box reached me, I realized that it is "too" heavy. The box itself is heavy, as the tablet and it's keyboard are very well packed but "light weight" is not a feature for the W501P.

The first boot
Even being a Linux guy, I do not hate Windows. I think that Microsoft does good software, with bad business model, but good software. Windows 7 is not bad software. But the ton of crap that came pre-installed with the tablet is not good. It took 40 minutes installing toolbars and other useless software.  After installing all the crap, Windows 7 were so slow that I felt I that I shouldn't have bought the tablet.

But I noticed that the screen and it's touch sensor are great. It has resolution of 1280x800 with great colors and bright. The touch precision is also great. It just works without needing calibrate anything. Image quality and touchscreen precision are qualities of this tablet. Fullscreen play of Full-HD youtube videos did not went as I was expecting. The frame rate is perfect for resolutions up to 480p. Above 480p it is not perfect any more.


Linux!
It works on Fedora 16 Beta. 3G modem, wired and wireless devices, single touch screen, two web cams, sleep state, and speed step. Rotation sensor, bluetooth and muti-touch did not work out of the box. I'll check what can be done.

After tuning the Kernel to use noop scheduler for the SSD the overall performance is not bad. It is light year ahead of 2008 Aspire One with single core Atom. I would not use the tablet for compiling Kernels, but it fits for reading, writing and surfing. Comparing the Iconia tab W501P with Toshiba R830 Core i7 notebook is not fair. But the fast graphics of the tablet really helps on giving the "sensation" of high speed. The user interface is almost as fast as on Core i7 but tasks like starting Libreoffice are much, much slower.

I was surprised that Fedora 16 comes with on-screen keyboard that shows up only when typing is needed. Almost like it is on Android. The software keyboard itself is very immature and many times it does not appear when it is necessary. I'll try with Ubuntu.

I'm happy with Linux on Iconia Tab W501P.


The docking
It could be thinner and lighter but it is ok. The keys are delicious to press and are not noisy. The stick mouse is fun but sometimes it is easier to touch the screen. Having Ethernet connection is very good. The docking fits the tablet, looking like a closed notebook. It is practical for transporting.


The battery
I had no time for testing it, but I do not believe that it would reach 4 hours of non intensive use. I'm curious about sleep state power consumption.


Next comments
I'll write again when I have more experience with it. I used the tablet for one day only. I'm really not sure about how can a tablet help me. I'll figure it out, or not, soon. :-)

Toshiba R830-10P and Acer Iconia Tab W501P

On the docking station - Front


On the docking station - Back

Off the docking station - Front

Docking and tablet closed as notebook
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