Acer Beaming Down Four Iconia Tablets From Mid April

It seems as though we've been waiting an age for someone to release a tablet worth actually competing with the iPad. Acer reckons it's got four, and they'll be landing in Australia from the middle of April.

As we've already seen, there are both Android and Windows tablets thrown in the mix in the new Iconia range, the most interesting being the 10-inch A500 Android tablet running Honeycomb. Running vanilla Android, but customised with a few Acer apps, the A500 features a proprietary docking port, an HDMI output, both USB and Micro USB ports (the former for storage, the latter for charging and syncing) and is powered by a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. It'll be available in both Wi-Fi and 3G versions, with either 16GB or 32GB in built storage (expandable via a microSD card slot). Prices start from $579 (for the 16GB WiFi) and models will start hitting shelves in mid April.

The second Android tablet Acer unveiled was the 7-inch A100, which also boasts a Dual Core Tegra 2 processor running Android Honeycomb and the same HDMI/USB/MicroUSB connectivity options. It comes with 8GB of storage on board, and will come in both a Wi-Fi and a 3G model, with prices starting at $499.

Then we get to the Windows tablets. The W500 - which starts at $899 and launches in May - would be a trainwreck on a touchscreen, except for the fact that it comes with a keyboard docking station, essentially transforming it into a notebook. the 10.1-inch screen is partnered with a 6-hour battery life to make it a device specifically targeted towards the SMB market. After its initial launch, it will also be available in a special version specifically for Telstra customers, with a dedicated 21Mbps HSPA+ mobile chipset integrated, which might tempt some people.

Finally, we get to the dual screen Windows tablet, which is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and uses special Acer software to allow intelligent touchscreen controls. It's also a fairly big victim of the Aussie gadget tax, launching in April with a $2,499, compared to the $US1200 pricetag the US market gets.

At the Aussie launch of its Iconia range of tablets yesterday, the Acer team did their best to entertain the media in attendance with a special Star Trek themed performance. In case you ever wondered what a tablet launch with Star Trek Cosplay looked like, I streamed the video via Qik - the quality is pretty poor, but you can still enjoy the witty dialogue...

Acting aside, the tablet lineup is as good as we've seen outside of Apple's ecosystem. Anyone interested?