We've been hearing a lot of noise about inexpensive, ARM-powered slates lately, but there are other uses for touch screens. Acer has aptly demonstrated that with its Iconia-6120 dual-screen "touchbook," which the company says is now available for pre-order in the United States and Canada. The $1,199 system features a Core i5 processor, Windows 7 64-bit... and a pair of 14" touch screens coated with Gorilla Glass. It's an unusual contraption for sure:
Acer's introductory announcement mentions Intel HD Graphics, but it's unclear whether the system's Core i5 processor is Sandy Bridge-based. Other specs include 4GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 1.3-megapixel webcam. The Iconia weighs in at 6.18 lbs, which sounds rather heavy even compared to a typical 14" notebook. I'm guessing Acer wasn't planning on rivaling the portability of the iPad—or of touch-screen netbooks like Dell's Inspiron duo.
On the software side of things, Acer pre-loads the Iconia with its Ring Control Interface software, which apparently runs on top of Windows. Here's the description from the press release:
The unique Acer Ring Control Interface makes navigating by touch simple and intuitive. By placing five fingers in a circular pattern on the bottom display, the Acer Ring appears, providing instant access to favorite applications and features. From this point, consumers can use their fingertip or launch the virtual keyboard to change the tablet's settings, surf the web, capture screen images, post photos and status updates to a social network, watch a movie and more, all in the manner most comfortable and natural to them.
As you can see in the gallery below, the Acer software suite includes an on-screen keyboard and virtual touchpad that take up the bottom half the system. The lack of tactile feedback might make typing less comfortable than with the real thing, but considering the 14" display size, the keys are probably decently sized.
Look for the $1,199 Iconia-6120 in North American stores next month.