Acer Iconia Tab A500 Now Available for Preorder

A WiFi-only version of the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is now available for preorder at Tablets are key to Acer's plan for regaining profits lost to the Apple iPad.

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 tablet can now be preordered at An exclusive offering of the big-box retailer, customers will be able to place orders in the store beginning April 14, and the tablet will finally begin selling Easter morning, April 24.

The Iconia Tab features a 10.1-inch multitouch screen, a Nvidia Tegra 250 1GHz dual-core processor with an integrated GeForce GPU, 16GB of flash storage, a microSD card slot for 32GB of additional storage support and Google's tablet-geared Android 3.0 operating system, nicknamed "Honeycomb." There's a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and a 2-megapixel camera with HD video-recording capabilities on the front, plus a promised 10 hours of Internet surfing.

Housed in aluminum, Acer's answer to the Apple iPad (more than the iPad 2, really) includes WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth connectivity, foregoing 3G access and the need for a wireless carrier contract-for now. It measures 10.24 by 6.97 by 0.52 inches and weighs 1.69 pounds, making it heftier than the iPad 2's 1.33 pounds and 9.5-by-7.31-by-0.34-inch frame. Its price tag, however, is lighter, at $450. The 16GB WiFi-only iPad 2, Apple's starting model, is priced at $499. (Hop up to 64GB and add 3G support from AT&T or Verizon, and Apple's pricing rises to $829.)

Comparisons to the iPad are natural, as the Apple tablet commands 90-plus percent of the tablet market. But Apple also belongs in any conversation about Acer's entr??«e into the tablet market, as the company is counting on tablets to revive earnings that were slashed by the iPad and the market it created. Acer rode high on the netbook craze of the last few years, overtaking Dell in 2010 for the No. 2 position among global PC manufacturers. However, Acer's PC business has slowed, as consumers and enterprise users have turned their attention from the thin-and-light, travel-ideal netbooks to the even thinner and lighter tablets.

With sales continuing to fall, Acer on March 25 lowered its guidance for the first quarter of 2011. Originally expecting positive growth of 3 percent, it instead has warned of a negative annual growth rate of 10 percent, according to, a Taiwan economic news source.

"We may not be able to get back to the golden days, as notebook plus netbook may be only able to maintain single-digit growth compared to 20 to 30 percent in the past," Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said during a conference call with investors April 7, according to Bloomberg. "We had too much emphasis on the volume in the past. Any growth in revenue this quarter will come from tablets as computer sales will remain unchanged from the first quarter."Wang reportedly added that Acer has an "aggressive plan" for gaining share in the tablet market over the next two years, which likely includes more feature-rich versions of the Iconia Tab.AT&T has announced that it will also launch a version of the Acer tablet during the second quarter-an Iconia Tab A501, with 4G capabilities."This tablet is packed with features that will enable HD gaming and exceptional video playback," David Haight, vice president of business development for AT&T's Emerging Devices unit, said in a March 23 statement, introducing the tablet at the CTIA Wireless trade show. "It offers a first-class on-the-go entertainment experience."Acer's Wang, in addition to the challenge of getting the company's sales back in the black, is currently tasked with finding a new president and CEO for the company, after Gianfranco Lanci resigned March 31. Lanci, according to an Acer statement, held different views than a majority of the company's board members and put a different degree of importance on "scale, growth, customer value creation, brand position enhancement, and on resource allocation and methods of implementation."Wang added, in the statement, "The personal computer remains the core of our business. We have built up a strong foundation and will continue to expand within, especially in the commercial PC segment. In addition, we are stepping into the new mobile device market, where we will invest cautiously and aim to become one of the leading players."