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Las Vegas: One of the hottest gadgets revealed so far at CES is also one of the more unconventional – a laptop that switches laptop keyboard for a second LCD screen.

Judging by the crowds milling around the Acer Iconia its a novel idea with appeal, althought as someone who has spent the last six months tapping away on an iPad screen I can immediately see the impracticalities.

The Iconia is a hybrid laptop-tablet, a format that I doubt is going to relegate the traditional keyboard-based laptop to history but is breaking the mold in a computer market attempting to make up lost ground taken by Apple with the iPad. The Iconia is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, up to 4GBs of RAM, and Windows 7 as the operating system. It’s form factor is fairly ho-hum, until you load up a web page and see that your  field of view extends vertically across two 14 inch screens.

Even better, you can be working on a document on one screen while watching a video on the other – it handles true multi-tasking. The screens are multi-touch so can handle window resizing, gesturing and multiple fingers on the screen at the one time.

I was barely able to get a finger let alone  a hand on the Iconia today, so I don’t  know what its like to type on. Frankly though, I fail to see the appeal – other than to people working in highly visual industries such as graphic design or photography or for people who do very little keyboard work but want plenty of screen real estate in a compact, portable format. The person demoing the Iconia said battery life performance was “middle of the road” which I’d say is optimistic given it requires two screens to be permanently lit up… no pricing  yet, but I hear its likely to be competitively priced to compete in the tablet market.

The Acer Iconia

The Acer Iconia

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