The Acer Iconia Tab W500…Hmmm Upgrades…

So for all you slightly more tech savvy dudes…and dudesses…of course, I thought i’d do another blog about upgrading the Acer Iconia Tab W500P. Now there isn’t much you can upgrade, however trust me when i say it makes all the difference. Small number of upgrades and big improvements. I had been wanting to put 64-bit Windows 7 as soon as i saw it online and read all the specs a million times…ok that’s silly, not that much…2 million times. But i thought i’d wait for a new hard drive before doing this and then see a whopping mega improvement whereby it transforms and drives me to work and then flies me to the moon and makes cheese on toast. Yikes! Shouldn’t have said that, now i have to open up a bag of grated cheese to eat while i type this…Ok there ready. Seriously, the improvements aren’t enough to make you kiss a monkey on the butt…except for you monkey reader; but they are BIG improvements. For starters the original 32GB hard drive installed i believe runs at 30 Mbps write speed and 160 Mbps read speed. This upgrades to 500 Mbps write speed and 540 Mbps read speed, apparently the fastest mSata SSD on the market. Trust me once installed, you feel it (the power of the tablet that is). Bare in mind all drivers from Acer’s website work in 64-bit EXCEPT for Wifi drivers and the gyroscope tablet rotate drivers. For Wifi it is perfectly fine because Windows Updater finds it for you and when updated, Wifi is back. However know that currently the screen rotation function is currently not supported in 64-bit. It should be soon…right? Acer?

Upgrading Time

RunCore Pro V T50

RunCore Pro V T50

So first thing was to pre-order the latest “RunCore Pro V T50 6GB mSata III 120GB SSD” After a month from “AsiaTechTrade“, due to the delay of the drive, not the company, my drive came home, with an additional 4GB key shaped USB as a gift for the pre-order delay -Got to say i was pleased of their generosity. After licking the USB several times to see if it was really water resistant, i decided to open up the tablet with only a detail lacking video to go by. The one thing this video mentions but doesn’t show clearly is that the tablet has no screws holding the back cover, but very weak and brittle CLIPS holding it together, and about 20 of them too. So i began by doing the following steps.

NOTE: I am not responsible for any damage caused. It is difficult to do even with confidence. BE VERY CAREFUL. If you still wish to do it, then pretend you are operating on a balloon… a touch screen balloon that runs windows 7.

  1. I removed any additional components e.g. SD Card, and opened the SD card cover.
  2. I used a piece of flat plastic. Mines was a baby sized chip fork like spoon. It’s important to be plastic to caused none or minimal cosmetic damage.
  3. The first one is always a nightmare and in this case it was. I pried the plastic into the SD slot area and in between the cover and front case.
  4. Once the first clip was out i worked my way up to the volume buttons and to the corner. The best i noticed was to pry the plastic in and wobble it up and down firmly but gently, and eventually the clip gave way without breaking. Before i managed to find this easier technique i managed to crack one tiny part of one clip. That’s how easy it happens, but it was a small one so a little glue and it was unnoticeable. And careful not to pry the plastic in too deep. You don’t want to touch anything inside.
  5. With the new technique of wobbling the plastic, it took from 20 minutes on the SD slot area to about 10cm up and then the rest of the tablet with the wobbling technique took 10 minutes…awesome!
  6. And pop, it just popped off.

The inside was amazing, nice and puzzle like. The SSD had a silver foil over it which i peeled off and unscrewed the one single screw holding the drive. I unscrewed it and easily pulled it out and replaced it with the new one, making sure that i put the foil back over it the exact same way. From here i noticed the RAM and i was like “Nooooooooo!” The 2GB RAM is soldered onto the board. Which means for me, if i want to upgrade, which if you want you can, i’ll have to send it to Acer. And you know what that means…Money Money Money! Anyway once the new drive was in i just placed the cover over appropriately and with gentle taps popped the clips back in, which was easy as cheese (which is easier than pie or cake…..or peanuts).

Turned it on and ERROR! Not too worry, the drive has no operating system on it. I connected to an external drive and inserted my Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. You may need to check the BIOS settings to read from the Disc Drive or activate F12 for boot options during booting screen. It booted from disc and took about 20-30 minutes to install Windows. Voila! An Acer Iconia Tab W500P with Windows 7 64-bit. And that’s when you notice that the tablet has sped up dramatically. To me it feels like more than double. And when the Windows Experience Rating was checked, originally it was 2.7 due to the processor but now it was 2.8. It actually made the processor think it is faster. Here’s the rest of the Rating, prepare to be amazed, especially the graphics.

Acer Iconia Tab W500P Windows Experience Rating

Acer Iconia Tab W500P Windows Experience Rating

Gaming graphics on 5.5…that’s wow, and this is only a tablet. Not only do the 120GB mSata SSD and 64-bit OS work together with the Dual Core processor to work faster, but the SSD is so good (running at under 2W) but this also means increased battery life which isn’t like 10 hours more, but you can feel it. One expensive upgrade and everything upgrades with it. Programs like Photoshop, Microsoft Office 2010 and games in general, run way better, open faster and for games settings can even be slightly increased. Even the touch response seems to feel quicker; and with 60 GBs used on the 120 GB SSD, cold boot from Power Off on my tablet now takes about 15-25 seconds, and powering down 5-10 seconds. I could ask for anything more.

Windows 8 on Acer Iconia Tab W500

Picture from Engadget

Now all that’s left is Windows 8. With tested boot times of 5-15 seconds on normal laptops and touch screen friendly interface with both the Metro forefront of the OS and the standard Windows part, Windows 8 is supposed to be designed with touch-in-mind. There are several videos on youtube, including some of Windows 8 Developer Betas installed on this very tablet. I for one cannot wait, and after the Microsoft Windows Vista incident (yep i refer to it as an incident), i somehow feel proud of Microsoft with Windows 7 and now Windows 8. And i’m more a mac person (bet you didn’t know that). As for Apple, i am stil waiting on the rumoured yet Patented, Mac OS Tablet. Thanks for reading.


Acer Iconia Tab W500P: A Tablet for more than just Touching

Acer Iconia Tab W500P

My Acer Iconia Tab W500P

Yep, that’s my Acer Iconia Tab W500P; a 10.1″ touch screen tablet device that runs Windows 7. I bought this device a few weeks ago and have since been using it for various everyday things and even some more processing intensive uses. I had read a lot about this before i purchased it, knowing well what i was buying. A lot of reviews have given this touch screen tablet device little credit and more criticism, but with the extent that i have used it, i can say that for anyone thinking of buying it or any other tablet device, have a read of this before you do.

I picked this device up from eBay (hears Oh My God…and…Arrrggghhh! *falls into toilet*); hey please don’t read my blogs on a toilet; it’s a blog not a bog. Just kiddin’ you can if you want. But yes, from eBay. Just know that cheapest on eBay doesn’t always mean most trusted. I got mines for about £450 with the keyboard dock. And yes it was BRAND NEW IN BOX & SEALED…and posted in a VOLT. The device itself looks pretty standard with no fancy art or design sophisitcation but i got to say that the glittery shiny colour on the plastic does look nice…awwww nice.

Now a lot of people say, “Is Windows 7 really for touch screen?” And the truth in my opinion is that yes and no. No because many Windows functions and buttons are too small for our giant King Kong fingers (No i am not implying you are apes…darn, sorry… i forgot that monkey’s reading my blog too). But i would also say yes because Windows is constantly updating it to make it more touch screen capable and with a bit of time, you too can adjust the settings for things to be a little bigger for touch. Plus, Windows 8 is coming very soon and it is supposed to be perfect for this device; i’ll talk more on this below. In terms of the specs, the processor is AMD (darn i was hoping for Intel, so i could put hackintosh on it and dual boot with it Mac OS X so i can have a Mac OS X Lion Tablet… but nope. Although i have read that there may be a possible AMD patch coming soon.) It’s a 1GHz Dual Core processor which means for computer system it has a reasonable amount of power, but for a tablet -or even a netbook- it is actually adequately speedy. 2GB of RAM is fine for a tablet but it could have done with 4GB. All your general applications start up within a few seconds and run just as you would expect on a laptop. A cold boot from Power Off to Windows Log In screen took about 30-45 seconds. Others can say what they want but that’s how quick it was for me…WITH software loaded on it (and i’m talking MS Office 2010, Photoshop, Audacity and many others). One down side for me was that it was running a 32-bit version of Windows, but before i got angry and smashed it on my head (i’m not really violent…well except for that Apple the other day, but that’s because it said “Bite Me!”), i realized that it can run a 64-bit Windows 7…AWESOME! And so i did (i’ll go into this in more depth below).

The next down side which i believe to be a real down side and not a biased one (like other sides say), is that it only comes with a 32GB hard drive. Now, it’s awesome that it’s a Solid Slate hard drive but 32GB…really? If only i could open it up and install my own mSata Solid State drive in it…that would be awesome! And so i did (i’ll go into this in more depth below).

The last major component that amazed me was the ATI Radeon HD 6250 Graphics Card. Now what a nice chip to go into a tablet device…very pleased. So i pleased that i decided to research on it’s capabilities, and i was amazed. On YouTube you can see it running games like Neverwinter Nights, Portal 2, Flatout 2, Burnout Paradise, Left 4 Dead, Bioshock, Half Life 2 and even Call of Duty: Modern Warfare… all fully playable with a great framerate. And here i was thinking i could only run Diablo, Black & White and Age of Empire II, but i also tested Age of Empires III and Warcraft III, which played flawlessly. As for touch friendly games like Plants vs Zombies, Zuma, Bejeweled, Angry Birds and even Age of Empires and Neverwinter Nights, it’s perfect.

Acer Iconia Tab W500 with Keyboard Dock

Acer Iconia Tab W500 with Keyboard Dock

Amongst all this it has various other little cool bits (eww) e.g. 1280 x 800 pixels resolution, built-in mic, Bluetooth 3.0, Wifi, HDMI port, Dolby Virtual Surround Sound, 2 cameras (front and back), 2 USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot if you wish to expand beyond 32GB, screen rotation when tablet turned to the side, and all the multi-touch pinching, panning and stroking you wish to do; just don’t grope it, that’s disgusting. It’s battery life is that of the average laptop averaging around 4-5 hours. 1080p videos run perfectly in Windows Media Player and the pre-installed multimedia player (sorry VLC). The keyboard dock is rather fiddly (Another downside), as it requires some connecting, pulling up, pulling down, disconnecting to have it look like and usable like a laptop, or closing it like one; but you get used to it.

OH when Acer first released this there was a major bug with it whereby the touch screen would flicker from desktop mode and back. So many people have asked on forums about how to fix it. Simply update your BIOS and it’s fixed. Download from Acer website –> plug in power adapter into tablet –> run the file and done fixed. I hate when companies released stuff without properly debugging, but hey sometimes even they get forced to released.

All in all it’s an awesome tablet capable of running games, internet browsing, photoshopping, writing and watching. I love it, it’s just what i need for a budget computer with both touchy tech and reasonable power. For those a little more tech savvy, this post is looooong so i will write another about upgrading it (hard drive and 64-bitting), Windows 8, and including some tips on opening it if you dare…..If you have any questions, please comment and i’ll reply. Thanks for reading.