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Despite sham show, Acer's dual touch-screen laptop a crowd pleaser

Mark Milian
Acer's Iconia laptop, which replaces the keyboard with a touch-screen, won CES's Last Gadget Standing contest.
Acer's Iconia laptop, which replaces the keyboard with a touch-screen, won CES's Last Gadget Standing contest.
  • Acer's Iconia laptop, with a touch-screen instead of a keyboard, was well received
  • A working prototype of the Iconia was not ready to be shown
  • Despite that, the audience cheered for Acer, making the contest winner Iconia

Editor's Note: Follow @cnntech, @jdsutter and @markmilian for Twitter updates this week from the Consumer Electronics Show. Join real-time discussion with CNN iReport at @cnnireportPRJCT.

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) -- A laptop with two touch-screens in lieu of a keyboard, tablets running an unfinished version of Google's Android, 3-D TV sets that don't require glasses.

These are some of the most buzzed-about gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show, but many of them aren't fully developed yet or primed for firsthand testing.

And electronics makers are going to great lengths with smoke and mirrors to hopefully distract audiences from noticing the unknowns -- like how a product actually works when not under carefully controlled conditions.

CNN spotted this trend early with tablets we weren't allowed to touch. On Motorola's popular Xoom units, only videos of the new Android system are shown, not usable software.

Research in Motion finally let people get their hands on its BlackBerry PlayBook, but some online blogged their disappointments when they discovered that things like standalone calendar and e-mail clients are seemingly missing from these versions.

Getting sneak peeks at unpolished work is part of the fun of CES. But enthusiasm should be tempered because many of the concept products shown in years past have never materialized.

Perhaps gadget enthusiasts prefer captivating concepts rather than actual products that may not end up being executed perfectly.

The winner of the Last Gadget Standing contest on Saturday was the product that seemed to be the furthest from reality.

Acer's Iconia, a touch-screen laptop with two displays where one replaces a keyboard, won the top honors. Winners are determined through a largely unscientific measurement of crowd enthusiasm.

The Iconia would let users type on a touch-screen keyboard similar to the iPad, or draw, flick and zoom with their fingers. Acer didn't announce details regarding pricing or availability. The device was demonstrated onstage using concept videos.

Acer presented a corn-ball act, with pretty girls dressed in "Star Trek" garb and two men posing as the characters Spock and Captain Kirk. (Because all nerds love "Star Trek," right?).

After a first video ran showing the Iconia, the two actors said they would demonstrate the device onstage. As they moved their hands around the laptop set on the podium, the video behind them showed the Spock actor's fingers manipulating Iconia software.

That was until a cameraman for the event began shooting from behind the actors to reveal that they were waving their hands in front of a regular, old laptop with a keyboard.

"You've got to show our video, guys!" the fellow dressed as Kirk shouted to the event organizers. "Iconia is way ahead of its time, Spock."

An actual version of the computer was on display and open for testing at Microsoft's CES booth. Typing on it is difficult and somewhat uncomfortable. Visually, the software looks like a version of Windows with touch-screen features, like a button to activate the keyboard, duct taped on top.

Despite that, Acer still won the Last Gadget Standing competition.

The audience was unimpressed with Fujifilm's FinePix 3-D camera or Samsung's Nexus S Google phone, both of which are already available on the market.

Samsung brought out a guy dressed as a gingerbread man (a costume that looked more like a spastic beaver) to promote the smartphone, which is the only one that comes with the Gingerbread version of Android.

Then Samsung spokesman Kim Titus made a series of nauseating puns. "No biting questions," he said.

Maybe Samsung should have invested in some Stormtrooper costumes instead.


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