|Acer Iconia 6120 Dual-Screen Laptop|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 27 April 2011|
Page 9 of 10
Acer Notebook Final Thoughts
Acer started showing Iconia prototypes last year (at this point I should note that Acer's using "Iconia" to represent a range of products, including a smart phone and a traditional tablet computer), and I was excited to see the 6120: it seemed almost like a prop from a science-fiction movie with its minimalist aesthetic and swoopy Acer-scripted demos.
The actual retail product is both more and less than I expected: more, in that the $1,200 price is reasonable for a cutting-edge product of this type, and its size and weight are both unexpectedly large; and less, in that Acer has failed, in my opinion, to provide a compelling reason to buy this laptop over less expensive alternatives that most people would find more useful. For example, Hewlett-Packard's beautiful Envy 14 notebook in its base configuration has the same Intel Core i5 480M processor and 4G of RAM, but adds a discrete Mobility Radeon 5650 GPU with a gigabyte of dedicated RAM and a slot-loading DVD burner, all in a package that weighs a pound less and is $200 cheaper.
Still, truly innovative products rarely make much sense when they're introduced. The first Macbook Air was almost impossibly thin and light, but it was also very slow and hideously expensive. Two generations later, it's a much less expensive and more usable machine. Microsoft Windows itself provides another example: arguably, it didn't become really useful until Windows 3.1 (some would argue for Windows 2000). The current Iconia 6120 is large and heavy for a 14" laptop computer, and the backlights for its dual screens suck enough power that in the two weeks I've had it, I've yet to hit 3 hours of use on a full charge.
Acer's eclectic collection of included touch software ranges from the silly and useless to the genuinely intriguing, although even the best of the applications don't really make a convincing case for the computer. There are, however, glimmers of possibilities here, and it's easy to envision a future version of this machine- perhaps with thinner, lighter OLED displays, a decent GPU, and more advanced software- that's a real alternative to your father's laptop. Acer themselves doesn't seem sure where this machine fits: on their web site, it's listed under "Tablet Computers", but the included manual refers to it as a "Touchbook", a term they seem to have invented themselves.
The main problem the Iconia 6120 struggles against is that Windows simply isn't designed for touch-screen operation, as more than a decade of failed Windows tablet computers has proven. Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Palm's (now Hewlett-Packard) WebOS are designed for touch input, and don't require operating system patches or specially-written programs to take advantage of touch operation. But tablets can't replace laptops for many users, and the Iconia 6120 attempts to bridge the divide between the two types of systems. Its success in doing so is decidely mixed, but it's a decent first step.
But I hope Acer sticks with it, and I'll be waiting to see future products in the Iconia line.