Acer Group switches on to tablet market

As the global PC market continues to slow, companies such as the Acer Group are looking to new products to reinvigorate sales.

As the global PC market continues to slow, companies such as the Acer Group are looking to new products to reinvigorate sales.

Tablets are clearly where the interest is, with the success of Apple's iPad on most technology executives' minds.

Acer's Iconia Touchbook represents a different approach as it features two 14-inch displays combined in a notebook design. Where you normally find the keyboard, there is a display screen.

Put your palms on that display as if you were to going to type and a keyboard appears.

Iconia is a "concept tablet" for Acer and not a mass-market item, at least not yet.

More typical are Acer's Iconia Tab A500 and W500. Similar in design, they are both based on a 10-inch display but run different operating systems and are aimed at different customers.

The W500 runs Windows 7 and is intended for business users who want a tablet running Windows applications such as Microsoft Office.

It remains to be seen how well-suited Windows 7 software is to the tablet format, as it was designed for desktop and notebook computers, and not for small devices with only touch-screen input.

The Android-powered A500 is going head to head with similar 10-inch tablets from Motorola, LG, Samsung and others.

Honeycomb, or Android 3.0, is the first version of Google's operating system developed for the larger tablet display and promises a better user experience.

Battery life is a major concern with any tablet, as is the availability of applications.

So far, there are few apps on the Android side that take full advantage of the bigger screen. In this respect, iPad has a clear advantage.

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