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Acer Iconia W510 Tablet: A Tale Of Intel Vs. ARM And Acer Vs. Apple

Things Get Ugly; Almost Dreamliner-Ugly

Sadly, Acer spent so much time with Intel to optimize the touchscreen's responsiveness, and somehow it completely forgot about the keyboard dock. While it adds an extra battery, taking run time up to a theoretical 18 hours, and the keyboard itself is usable, the trackpad is not. This isn't even an issue of size or tactile feel. Rather, the trackpad misses movements and jumps around erratically.

Back in November, we were told that Acer was aware of the problem and working on a fix. We waited. And waited. And waited. At first, we heard it was a hardware issue. Then, that it was software. A quick search of Acer's community message boards turned up several others with the same complaint. We held off on our story, hoping the next driver package would fix the trackpad. The following BIOS did improve functionality, but the input surface was still unusable most of the time.

Then, the keyboard completely died. It still generated a tone when I attached it to the tablet, but its battery no longer charged and it was no longer detected in Windows. So, I decided to ship my sample in to Acer.

It was a little tricky getting through to the company's online support system. After filling out the requisite forms, I received an RMA number. Unlike Lenovo, which ships out a box with a prepaid label for service, or an Apple tablet that can be walked in to an Apple store, Acer left it up to me to ship off my broken device. Because shipping was on my tab and only the keyboard was broken, I shipped it on its own. Then, I waited.

Then I got a call from an Acer rep, who wanted me to ship the tablet and keyboard together, arguing that the service department needed to check compatibility between by keyboard and tablet. Also, there was no serial number for the keyboard, and they had to associate the dock with a tablet. Bear in mind that the keyboard would no longer charge; it was obviously broken. Talking to support on the phone was fruitless. They were nice; they just weren't able to do anything.

It's not the buyer's fault that Acer doesn't have a unique serial number for its keyboard. It only appears that Acer doesn't have the flexibility to help its customers as Apple. If you have a Mac Pro with a defective mouse or keyboard, the company replaces it as long as the system is under warranty. In this case, the keyboard is specific to Acer's W510, a brand-new product, meaning that all W510 keyboards are under warranty. Shoot, Logitech once replaced a broken G7 mouse, even though I had no receipt and the serial number was completely worn through. Why? The G7's warranty was longer than the product had been available, so customer service understood that every G7 was still protected by Logitech's warranty at the time.

Not Acer, though. They wouldn't even evaluate the dock until I shipped the tablet, even though the keyboard could easily be confirmed broken by plugging a charger into it (the dock can charge independently). Since I never send notebooks for repair with their hard drives, I spent time scrubbing my data. Since I didn't want the tablet damaged in shipping, I carefully packed it back up into the retail box and supplemental cardboard sleeve. I left the charger out, but included the manuals, documentation, and cleaning cloth because they provided additional structural support in the bento-box style packaging. The package went to Acer's repair facility via FedEx two-day. More out of pocket costs. My tablet arrived at Acer on February 14. I received it back February 28.

When the unit arrived, it came wrapped in plastic in a brown box. My retail packaging was gone. This wasn't an Acer press sample either, mind you. It was purchased at Central Computer in the Bay Area, and the box even had a Central Computer sticker on it. It was sent as part of an Intel review kit, but it was a retail product nonetheless. Sigh.