Hands on with the dual-screen Acer Iconia

Acer's Iconia has spawned a sub-brand for the company which includes tablets and smartphones, but how is the original dual-screen device to use? We go hands-on at the Gadget Show Live to find out.

The Iconia is an interesting beast: the spiritual successor to Microsoft's cancelled Courier project, it takes a fairly standard 14-inch laptop and dispenses with the keyboard to make room for a second 14-inch multi-touch display.

There's no denying that the layout offers impressive flexibility. The bottom display can switch from a virtual on-screen keyboard to a spread-screen system that allows a website to extend across both screens - minimising scrolling. Separate applications can be opened on both screens, while Acer includes custom software with social networking integration, gesture recognition, and the somewhat Carry On-esque 'Acer Ring.'

Sadly, there's no getting away from the fact that the Iconia combines the worst from the worlds of the tablet and the laptop. Unlike a tablet, it's bulky - slightly thicker than your average 14-inch laptop thanks to the screen and the additional cooling required - and awkward to carry. Unlike a laptop, it doesn't have a physical keyboard - and using the on-screen keyboard for entering long documents is painful, despite alleged twenty-point multi-touch and palm recognition.

The glossy finish on the screens, common on modern laptops, poses a secondary problem: glare. While the main screen can be angled to minimise reflections during use, the bottom screen is always facing upwards - reflecting ceiling lights straight into your eyes. It also collects fingerprints and smudges, which show up badly when the display is showing something dark.

The Iconia, which is out now for an eye-watering £1,400 with an Intel Core i5-480 processor and 4GB of RAM, is an interesting experiment - but one which, we can't help but feel, is destined for failure.

To see take a look at the Acer Iconia in action, check out the exclusive hands-on video on our sister site, TechBuff.com.