Acer intros dual-touchscreen notebook

Whether inspiration comes from a handheld console like the DS or a competitor's design (like the Toshiba Libretto W100), it really doesn't count until the product is a major sales hit.

At least that must be Acer's reasoning behind its brand new Iconia notebook - or tablet, or 'touchbook' - presented today at Acer's worldwide three-ring media circus in New York.

The Acer Iconia is a dual-touchscreen 14-inch device on which Acer has replaced the keyboard with a second (touch)screen. It sits up just like a regular laptop so not much chance of holding it up as you would a real book, in case you're wondering.

However, unlike other tablets in general you won't see a mild-mannered ARM chip running Android in the background. The Iconia is a full-blown Wintel PC powered by a Core i5 processor and has all the features of a regular notebook (HDD, graphics, expansion slots and so forth). In fact, Acer is so happy it's a Wintel device that even Mooly Eden - Intel's VP of the PC Client group - was on hand to applaud the newcomer.

The dual 1366x768 screens are protected by Gorilla Glass, whcih Acer claims will make them scratch- and smudge-resistant, without losing any touch functionality. Of course if you're missing a keyboard to type on just jam all fingers on one of the multi-touch screens and do a 'grab' motion that will spurt forth an Acer Ring, a rolodeck of features from which a virtual keyboard can be selected.

Both multitouch screens can support up to five finger interactions, which gives you plenty of options as you can 'train' your Iconia to recognise your gestures and execute shortcut tasks through the Gesture Editor.

Software-wise the Iconia is baring a heavy load of different social, multimedia and non-productivity related apps. From what we've seen, none of them is groundbreaking enough to really makes the dual-touchscreen device shine. Somehow we get the feeling that if you are using a Core i5 with dual touchscreen in the loo just to twitter, then you're just doing it wrong.

The device will also have a 3G option, but the connectivity features are already pretty massive: the whole 802.11 family up to N, Bluetooth 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet pretty much cover it.

You might be wondering what the battery life on such a device is, and with two screens you know it just can't be very good. Acer has listed a three-hour battery life on a four-cell battery. It's just like we've been thrown back into the early 2000s. Oh, did we mention this weighs 'just' 6.18lbs?

We'll give Acer this: the Iconia does make for a good show-off device when in front of the cameras. We'd just like Microsoft to wrap up that Courier project of theirs before this touchscreen/tablet fever gets out of hand.