First Look: Acer Iconia

Acer announced its brand new device, the Iconia dual touchscreen laptop, in New York City and Pocket-lint was in attendance to grab a First Look review of the new dual screen laptop.

What sets this laptop apart is the fact that it has not one, but two 14-inch touchscreens. How? Besides the top touchscreen, the Iconia has a second touchscreen in place of a traditional keyboard. Both display in HD with a 1366 x 768 resolution and are multi-touch functional so you can use all of your fingers to control the device. Coooooooool.

The company states that the dual touchscreen can be used to extend a web page or document to span two screens for better readability, or so you can do two things at once on the different screens.

Like many of the new tools out there, the Iconia is moving towards a super social state of connectivity with an emphasis on multi-touch processes, multi-touch functions, and multiple brain waves ... at the same time. It’s built upon the idea that consumers want to be watching a movie on the main screen while looking at their social networks on the lower screen. Warning: this laptop may cause the inability to get anything done.

The Iconia is a traditional laptop in the sense that you can type on the touchscreen keyboard to control what’s happening on the main top screen whether you’re typing in a web address or typing up an email. The moment you assume the typing position and you put your five fingers and palms on the lower touch screen the virtual keyboard instantly appears and allows you to type.

Typing on the virtual keyboard does take some getting used to although like your touchscreen smartphone you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Use another gesture and another set of features will pop up. For example, if you put five fingers and make a grab gesture on the bottom touchscreen, the Acer Ring media player will appear. This ring allows you to scroll through your various pictures, videos, and social networks where you can drag and drop them onto the main screen or open them from the second screen. You can also edit gestures using the Gesture Editor to set customised gestures to launch specific applications.

Acer is working on its own touch applications for use with this device and similar ones like a TouchBrowser, TouchPhoto, TouchMusic, TouchVideo as well as SocialJogger for Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook as well as My Journal and My Scrapbook.

My Journal lets you cut and paste titbits of information and plant them into one rich media journal, while My Scrapbook allows for computerised scrap-booking with easy sharing options (think along the lines of creating your own invitation).

Verdict

The Acer Iconia is one of those really cool future devices that at first glance seems awesome and makes you want to buy it - kind of like Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future. But when it comes down to it, would you trade in your traditional laptop for an all touchscreen device to get your work done on a day-to-day basis? It’s kind of like trading your car for the hoverboard - it may look cool and make certain things really easy, but what happens if it snows? Does the hoverboard have all of the features that you need to streamline your work flow?

The Acer Iconia is definitely on trend with tons of social and sharing features built directly into the interface, along with touchscreen capabilities, which makes dragging, dropping, and sharing simple. That said, a touchscreen laptop does pose a certain number of problems when it comes to normal day-to-day procedures. Aside from the coolness of Facebooking on one screen while watching a movie, if you instead decide to type something up, there is a certain learning curve required to master the virtual touchscreen keyboard. The longer the document, the more errors you may make as you begin to rest your hands on letters rather than traditional keyboard space.

A laptop is a product designed to make doing work easier, not harder, and we’re not sure if touchscreen would actually make life easier in the long run. The Iconia’s operating system, Windows 7 has also been criticised for not being super touch-friendly.

When it comes down to it, we’re not sure if full touchscreen is the path of the future as far as laptops go. Although the Acer Iconia may look cool and take Facebook and sharing to a whole new level, is it a true laptop work machine? At the moment we aren’t so sure.

Oh, and then there’s the price. In the UK it will cost £1500 and for that money you could have a regular laptop and a tablet; getting the best of both worlds.



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