"The greatest of all Netbooks, the least of all tablets."2.5 starson by JonathanNJ
Pros: Screen, viewing angles, multitouch responsiveness, Windows 7, two USB ports on the tablet itself, Bluetooth, decent video,
Cons: Battery life, processor gets bogged down easily, for Web browsing still work well with pinch-to-zoom
Summary: Forget about the "keydock" contraption. Consider the W500 as a Windows tablet, able to pair with any USB or Bluetooth keyboard, or just resort to the wonky on-screen keyboard. And what have you got?
The greatest of all Netbooks, the least of all tablets.
There needs to be context. There have always been Windows tablets--questionable Archos tabs, overpriced UMPCs, and convertible tablets with swiveling screens. Aside from a few hot-rod $1,000 models, the Netbook-based Windows tabs like the Dell Inspiron Duo and Lenovo s10-3t have suffered from glacial sluggishness and cheap LCD screens whose poor viewing angles make actual tablet use a pain. Hold it wrong and the image turns blue!
But that's where the Tab W500 delivers. As a multitouch-based Windows 7 Netbook-tablet, it just works. Touch response is quick if not buttery smooth, finger-swipe scrolling works in Firefox and IE but not Chrome, and pinch-to-zoom...works on pictures but lags for websites. Now this screen--it's beautiful! Off-axis viewing angles are nearly perfect. The image is almost as stable as my smartphone, or an iPad.
That screen quality is a huge deal, and it means that if you're thinking about a Windows Netbook at all, the Iconia W500 is the ONLY way to get an excellent screen!.
But, as a tablet? The processor bogs down easily--one Flash video at a time, max--and battery life is insufficient for e-reader duty--4 hours of surfing, 2-3 hours of Flash video. It's also too blasted heavy to hold comfortably--two pounds for the tablet only. Compared to the iPad and slew of Android Tablets in its price range, the Iconia W500 cannot compete.
So the point of this computer is really just Windows 7--full document and spreadsheet editing, PDF editing if you buy software, regular desktop programs, full Web support, both Flash and Silverlight. It elevates that Netbook experience with its touch input and great viewing angles.
The problem is, after spending two weeks with my new W500 tablet and writing half this review on its wonky ON-SCREEN keyboard, I'm still jealous for an iPad or any Android tab that runs Flash. Even with their limitations, mainstream tablets are very functional--focused, you might say--and they all have excellent battery life. This little touchbook is such a different machine, a traditonal computer that dressed up in a tablet costume, a jack-of-all-trades that excels at nothing, except for that screen. The Android tablets and iPad have a gravity to them, because they're designed to do fewer things but do them very well.
The bottom line? The W500 is for those looking for a Netbook, not a tablet. As a Windows machine, it's a decent Netbook with a bonus touch screen. As a tablet, it's too heavy and the battery life is nearly inexcusible.