Touchscreen, Times Two
With its clamshell design and dual touchscreens--one of which doubles as a navigation controller--the Acer Iconia makes a clear design statement: Touch is in. When closed, the Iconia looks like any other notebook. But when opened, the Iconia resembles no other laptop or slate.
Touchscreens, Top and Bottom
Another view of the dual-touchscreen display. The secret behind the Iconia is its unique Acer-designed touch and gesture software. Let’s take a tour of the features.
Unfortunately, the secondary display on the demo unit (granted, an early production model) exhibited a lot of glare. And the air gap between the LCD and the touchscreen layer was very clear, which only added to the effect.
Put your palms on the surface of the “hands-on” display, and up comes a virtual keyboard. To be honest, I found typing on it easier than doing so on the Apple iPad, but I missed having haptic feedback or pop-up letters to alert me to which buttons I'd pressed as my fingers flew. Still, the idea of a software keyboard is intriguing--suddenly, custom keyboards for gaming, or for video or image editing, become viable.
At the heart of the Iconia’s navigation is the Ring interface. You can activate the Ring by putting five fingers on the bottom display, which Acer alternately refers to as the hand or navigation screen. Up pops up a wheel that you can scroll through to access apps optimized for finger navigation.
The Ring is designed to make accessing your digital media intuitive. Simply spin the wheel around to the video section, for example, and…
…you enter a folder interface for browsing your video files.
Viewing your photo library is much the same as browsing videos. Scroll around to the photo app, and you’ll get a folder-based view of your photos, all accessible via a tap of the finger.
Creating Your Own Memories
The Scrapbook lets you create content by clipping bits and pieces of media from various sources…
Scrapbook: The Result
…and putting things together all at once, including drawing doodles, or writing text on the screen with your fingers. (Elsewhere among the apps is a handwriting-recognition component, too.)
Spin on over to the Social Jogger, and you can see all your social media updates side by side.
Social Jogger: You Have Updates
Demonstrated here (from left to right) are updates from Facebook, popular videos from YouTube, and Flickr (unfortunately, this demo model’s account didn’t have images populating, but that is the intent).
A Daily Journal
Scroll around to this personal-journal option…
…and you’ll see snippets of personalized content updated on a daily basis.
The Ring helps you snip material, and provides options for accessing the keyboard and other functions, too. It’s also designed to recognize gesture navigation…
Create Your Own Gestures
…, including the two Acer-supplied gestures shown here, plus user-defined gestures. It’s easy to create a gesture navigation: Simply go to the Gesture Editor and select add new gesture.
Gesture Editor: A Blank Slate
To create a gesture, all you do is make the motion in the blank box, and then associate it with the action you want that gesture to perform. It works as advertised. In some ways this is fitting, for no other reason than it’s appropriate to think of the Acer Iconia as a blank slate whose usage patterns and potential have yet to be fully realized. Acer has made huge strides toward revolutionizing how we compute and create using our fingers.