|Acer Iconia 6120 Dual-Screen Laptop|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 27 April 2011|
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Acer Touch-Enabled Applications
Acer provides a suite of touch-enabled programs with the Acer Iconia 6120. I mentioned these briefly in the previous section: they're the programs you can launch directly from the Acer Ring utility. By default, these applications open and run on the lower screen, and tapping the question-mark "Help" button opens Internet Explorer on the upper screen, displaying (local content) help for the running application.
The first application is the Touch Browser, a touch-enabled web browser.
This screen shot shows TouchBrowser extended across both screens, although tapping a button at the bottom will flip it between the top screen only or both screens (oddly, you can't configure it to run just on the bottom screen). TouchBrowser seems reasonably capable, and having the address bar and controls at the bottom of the screen makes "touch browsing" easier, since you don't have to extend your arm to reach the top of the top screen. When in dual-screen mode you'll need to use Windows' on-screen keyboard widget to enter text, although you can build up and pick from a list of favorite sites. You can use the Web Clip button (third to the right of the address bar) to grab live clippings for Touch Scrapbook or My Journal.
The performance of TouchBrowser seemed similar to Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4. You can quickly extend either of these browsers across both screens with the Window Manager, but the Windows task bar will remain, obscuring part of the browser display.
This is a simple application designed to display your Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr accounts all on a single page, with automatic updating of their contents at defined intervals. This app works well when left open on the top or bottom screen while you so something else on the remaining screen.
TouchPhoto, TouchVideo, and TouchMusic
This applications all make good use of the Iconia's dual screens. I'll cover TouchPhoto; TouchVideo and TouchMusic are substantially similar. TouchPhoto will open on both screens by default:
You can scroll through your photo library on the bottom screen; touching any image displays it on the upper screen. You can page through your images on either screen by swiping left or right, and zoom in or out of an image by pinching. If you're using the virtual keyboard, TouchPhoto runs on the upper screen, and the large photo display overlays the thumbnails. You can play slide shows of your images and allows you to rotate them in 90-degree increments. TouchMusic and TouchVideo offer similar interfaces to manage and play/display your music and video files.
While TouchVideo, TouchPhoto, and TouchMusic all make good use of the Iconia 6120's dual displays, they all maintain their own libraries. If you've thousands of photos in Picassa, for example, you'll have to import them into TouchPhoto to see them there. It could be argued that since you'd be starting with a new computer, you might want to use the included Touch applications instead of their more-established alternative like Picassa and iTunes, and that's a valid argument. But functionally all these programs have to offer is their dual-screen user interfaces; otherwise, they're much less capable than their competition.
This program is pretty much what it sounds like. You can create and manage a "scrapbook" comprising an arbitrary number of pages. Each fixed-size page accommodates finger-drawn scribbles, screen captures, and photos from your TouchPhoto library, which you can resize, rotate, and arrange as though you were dealing with physical wallet-sized photos. The screen shot below shows Scrapbook running on the bottom screen with the help feature on the top screen.
According to Acer, this is a "...handy place to keep clippings of web sites and other information you may want to refer to later." This might sound a lot like Scrapbook, but it's really quite different.
This screen shot shows two Web clippings in My Journal's "Technology" tab. The difference between this and Scrapbook is that the Web clippings are live, and will update their content when you open the My Journal application. Since the clippings are live, links within them work. For example, tapping the "Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking Guide" link in the BmR Featured Content clipping above would open your default web browser on the upper screen with this link.
My Journal is clever, but very limited. While you can rename the tabs, you can't delete tabs or add new ones. The content of each tab is limited to the single screen under it; tabs can't be scrolled or paged. There doesn't seem to be any limit to the number of web clippings you can have under a single tab, but once they start to overlay each other, managing them becomes clumsy, especially since you must tap the "Edit" control (indicated by a little pencil on a notepad) to move a web clipping.
In the next section, I'll discuss my final thoughts and conclusion of the Acer Iconia 6120.