Fear and Loathing in Windows 8 with the Acer ICONIA 6120 Dual-Screen Touchbook

Posted by OmegaMan at October 1, 2011

Category: Windows 8

Tags: ,

Windows 8 experience on top panel with Windows 7 visual experience on the lower touch panel.

As of 11/11/2012 Acer does not support the Iconia 6120 for windows 8 either by its Windows upgrade assistant or via any downloads for the notebook in its support section. All drivers are a year old and only for Windows 7. Windows 8 can be installed and it works, but the lower screen, nor the specialized keyboard button (on the side of the laptop) does not bring up the keyboard. Making the tablet ineffective as a Windows 8 platform.

I recently began my Windows 8 journey by installing the developer preview on an Acer Iconia 6120 or more commonly know as the dual touch screen laptop or touchbook as they have named it. My goal is to learn the metro style programming and experience the wave of the future in application development on tablet and smaller items. I am primarily a C# Silverlight developer so it is fundamental that I understand exactly what the pro’s and con’s of creating applications to the next version of windows will entail. The following are some of my initial thoughts on what I have run into as I have begun this journey which can be read by developers and non developers alike.

Souping up the TouchBook

I had purchased the Acer off of Ebay from a company which claimed they used differing laptops for demos for roughly a week, no more than ten hours of usage promised, and would sell them in a non new condition.. Long story short is that I didn’t have to pay MSRP on this gem so technically its used, but that is fine for my purposes.

There are many reasons purchasing this Touchbook which I will speak to, but the primary was for its cool factor of dual touch screens.  But I must admit that while waiting for shipment (which was delayed for a week unbeknownst to me from the seller (grrr)) my loathing began to take hold. I wondered if the dual screens would be functional within Windows 8 and thus would end up being a nice door stop for a future unknown open door draft choice in my house?Rating 4.2, Intel Core I5 M480 @2.67ghz, 4 GB of ram on 64bit OS with 10 touch points.

I also knew that Acer ships it with a Windows 7, so the possibility of bricking both screens felt remote and that the tablet is up to Microsoft’s specs for the minimum for Windows 8 screen resolution wise was 1024×768 and the screens on the Iconia are both 1366×768.

On the downside one of coolest features found on the Iconia would probably not be there on Windows 8. That feature is where a user places his or her palms (see virtual keyboard) on the lower screen, hence bringing up Acer’s full sized virtual keyboard and yes it did not come over for Windows 8. As of this writing I am still unaware of how to get the target software to bring up Acer’s virtual keyboard which does come up in the bios actually. THe windows virtual keyboard does make its appearance as designed for Windows 8 albeit smaller form factor than the Inconia’s. Sad smile

The machine I choose had to be one where I could actively develop upon it and had to have more horse power than most of the tablets out there and the Acer fit that bill for dual usage. The fact that it came with an Intel Core I5 chip with four gig of ram meant that I could develop metro apps on Visual Studio 2011 preview, which requires 64bit at this time, and have a peppy machine to boot.

Alright you ask, what did you do to soup it up?

Once I got the laptop, I took off the backing panel of the Acer and removed it’s 640 gig Western Digital (5400 rpm) hard drive and gave it some real power with a Kingston SSDNow V+100 solid state drive. Its capacity is only 96 gig which is fine for a development machine to hold the OS and tools. I actually have one it in my primary work machine, a Dell XPS 17 Core I7 laptop, which I use on a daily basis, so it was a no brainer to use the Kingston again for the Acer. The above windows experience of 4.2 with the SSD is no barn burner it really does the job.

 

My Touching Windows 8 Experience

Now it is obvious that Microsoft has an Alpha version on their hands here but frankly the experience has been anything as such. I have yet to blue screen or have any major problems. It is apparent that Windows 8 builds off of Windows 7 for all drivers I have installed have installed without problems. The following are the problems or situations I have encountered using the Dual screen

Extended Windows Not Behaving as Expected
  1. Since the Acer is a Frankenstein dual screen tablet and a single screen the OS wants to treat the lower screen as just an extension of the top screen and it just doesn’t flow right.
    1. Only one screen is the full Windows 8 experience while the other screen is always the Windows 7 experience. When both screens are the seven experience, when dragging a window by touch to the lower window, the non touch area stops the window and the menu bar (the part which needs to be touched to have it moved) is stuck in the upper window and there is no way to flick it down to the lower window and a mouse must be used instead.
    2. Touching the lower screen also sends touch notifications to the upper screen. I believe this is a bug and hopefully will be fixed in upcoming versions.
  2. When working with a third screen attached from the HDMI port there is no way to have all three screens active in any configuration. So I have had to leave off the bottom screen when I work with an external monitor. The situation is shown below in the screen shots when trying to get all of them to work. The left picture shows the Iconia running with both screens while the right screen show s the monitor configuration I have to deal with while having the lower Iconia screen inactive. (Note even though the lower screen is inactive when using the other monitor the touch is still active on the screen and its actions are sent to the upper screen. Big bug.)
    Top and bottom of the laptop are enabled while the external monitor is disabled. The lower touch screen is disabled for the windows to work.
General Observations
  1. Most of the default Metro apps do not work on either of the Iconia’s screens! One touches them, the title splash screen comes up and eventually a blank screen of the default background color of the apps tile is shown. This situation, not related to the Iconia, has been reported to Microsoft (see When I click on an application tile, nothing happens. How can I launch the Metro applications?) and the answer was that the apps were running in less than 1024×768 resolution. For the Iconia this is not the case and should exceed that threshold by being 1366×768. In summary:
    1. Most apps fail on the Iconia’s screens and do not properly load.
    2. Most apps run on the third connected screen when the Windows 8 experience is brought to It.
    3. No error message is shown to the user.
    4. Developed apps (at least the few I have done), using the developer preview of Visual Studio 2011 work on the touch experience.
  2. Windows 8 doesn’t play well with non touch monitors. Sometimes the Windows 8 experience jumps on to the monitor and the program is expecting touch (?) actions and one has to force the windows 7 experience back to the monitor.
  3. IE 10 sometimes incorrectly reports a URL of another tab than the page being viewed when multiple tabs are being used.
  4. No Aero experience with Windows Key-Tab under W7 experience and if done under the W8 experience it is a single view change.
  5. Microsoft Virtual Keyboard needs to adapt to larger screens to give the full keyboard effect. The slimmed keyboard is frustrating to use when typing in passwords with numbers or symbols and one has to click over to show a different layout. If the screen real estate is available why not use it, or at least allow the user to configure it.

Summary

The touch experience of Windows Eight is still a long way off from being a reality. Frankly there needs to be a way to lock the experience of Windows 8 or Windows 7 to certain screens depending on the screens needs. It is a nice to have in certain situations say a true tablet experience, but the laptop or touch screens will want the older Windows 7 experience for the most part. I suspect that need to be accommodated by Microsoft as the versions evolve over time. So far I can use the Acer Iconia 6120 for my development purposes, but a true stand alone Windows 8 platform it is a long way off from being a useful stand alone experience.

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33 Comments

  1. No one says

    Lucky! I would love a acer iconia with windows 8.

    Reply
  2. Cienega says

    I need software for a Virtual Keyboard in Windows 7
    Please
    you can help me?

    Reply
  3. Gary Ruplinger says

    That dual touchscreen computer looks sweet!

    Reply
  4. Julio G says

    hello, i want to upgrade my hd also on my iconia 6120 if i do can you explain the steps please. I don’t wanna lose the cool touch software. reinstall win7…and…?

    Reply
    • OmegaMan says

      There is no upgrade path. If you are interested, replace the hard drive and install W8 on that one as a test run.

      Reply
  5. Jake says

    Hi OmegaMan,

    RE the virtual keyboard and ring software, somebody managed to extract the applications this way: http://forum.notebookreview.com/acer/635235-acer-iconia-pau30-acer-ring-software.html

    Although he says that the ring was not fully functional I’m sure with some tweaking it would be fine – getting the app back is a start.

    I think it is ridiculous that these aren’t in the driver download pages, have you tried calling and moaning at Acer?

    It might be a bit late for you if you’ve already blatted the drive, but hopefully you kept the 640GB intact and just swapped in the SSD?

    Looking at getting one of these soon (on fleabay), was wondering how it’d work with W8. Who knows, with the big oncoming ‘touch revolution’ maybe price of them will go up on the aftermarket.

    – Jake

    Reply
  6. JAVIER says

    Have you tried the win 8 consumer version? And why in YouTube there is one guy that use both touch screnns?

    Reply
  7. sean says

    I am currently almost finished extracting the touch app installs from the pq service partition and there should be no problem porting them to windows 8. I have already installed some of the touch apps from the acer iconia w500 and they work fine other than the few apps that are hardware specific to w500 such as the device manager, it comes up but obviously has the ports displayed as to were the w500 would have them physically located. I will keep everyone posted on my results if anyone is interested. I am not sure why acer offers the touch applications for download with the acer iconia w500 and not for the 6120. I contacted their support and asked them why this is and they simply stated that they just haven’t got around to making them available for download, not sure I buy that but I should have them shortly anyways.

    Reply
  8. DanielDepunkt says

    Hello, I am from Germany, so excuse me for my english.
    In the internet, on youtube, I saw a Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MhaOqIhaOE&feature=related). It seems, that some Problems you talked about run by this time.
    It is really interesting, couse i had a Acer Iconia dual Screen tablet, too.
    I read that we have to explain Windows 8 that both Screens are touchscreens. But i dont know how.. Maybe you have an explanation ?

    Reply
  9. phil says

    hi to fix the bug go into tablet pc screen (you need an external keyboard and mouse) and then config each screen as a touch screen (prompts you to touch the screen and hit enter on the keyboard) then the bug that one touch touches the other screen is fixed 🙂

    Reply
    • OmegaMan says

      Thanks Phil, I will try that!

      Reply
  10. Mao says

    @ Sean: Hey, just wondering if you were able to get the apps extractwd and the laptop working. I would like to replace my HD and wondering if you coulda share. Thx!

    Reply
  11. phil says

    hey guys anyone have any suggestions for a stand for this laptop? So viewing the bottom and top screen will be easier on the eyes and the neck strain?

    Reply
  12. Salva says

    Hello, I have a dual screen Iconia not set well with the two screens.
    Could you tell me the steps to configure the two screens?

    Reply
  13. Chase says

    I have this computer and have successfully managed to get W8 CP working on it. I also was able to get the keyboard working. You have to go to acer.com and get the driver recovery tool. There you can download and install the drivers that aren’t in Windows 8, including the keyboard. This works well for me. I am having issues with the wiring and it thinking I am typing when I really am not. This makes it freeze and overheat after 20 minutes.

    Reply
  14. Steve says

    I’m also looking for the Acer applications. Specifically the eRecovery Manager. Or just the virtual keyboard.

    Reply
  15. LPHovercraft says

    I’m looking into adding an mSATA SSD to the empty slot underneath the 6120. Any idea how to activate/utilize that? When looking at the BIOS settings I see that the Iconia thinks there’s an IDE0 (the main 2.5″ drive) and an IDE1 – with no designation. I put an SSD in that slot and didn’t see it get recognized, and can’t seem to find a BIOS level setting. Is there some physical switch (or a bridge) on the device that tells the OS/BIOS that the mSATA slot is occupied? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  16. Ryan says

    Just letting all you guys know who has issues with 6120 not running right on Windows 8, it runs pretty smooth for me so far. But I thinks its too early to say it’s perfect. I managed to create a dvd off of windows 7 side with all application and drivers, partitioned main hd with 70gb and installed windows 8 on it. Did not have any trouble with installation what so ever.

    First windows 8 installation went bad when Acer apps keep saying it requires framework 3.5.1 to be enabled but could not get it to downgrade from 4.0 to 3.5.1. So I did some googling and found that windows 8 has framework 3.5.1, I just had to enable it using cmd.

    Reinstalled windows 8 and installed all application from the dvd that I made with framework 3.5.1 enabled, change orientation of the screens and now almost everything works and it works flawless. Only thing that’s now working at the moment is Acer ring’s apps. Acer ring works Acer bottom screen virtual keyboards works but when I enable acer ring, all the apps on scroll side does not launch. Device manager, hand gesture quick launch (whatever you call it), and etc all works on the right of the acer ring. Will work on those apps tonight to get it to launch.

    Lastly, ghost touch issue. I had this issue before I have installed windows 8 on it. with windows 8, it disappeared. I’ve had this tablet on for over 4 hours while I was working on its apps and never occurred (knock on wood). So maybe the software issue? unlike what everyone said that it is a hardware issue…

    If someone can figure out how to get those acer ring’s scroll apps to work please post it here. thanks

    Reply
  17. ry says

    ryan how did you get they keyboard to work i can get it to pop upbut it will not register touches

    Reply
  18. MitigationElf says

    I know the purpose of this post is to discuss Windows 8 in the Iconia 6120. I have run Windows 8 on my 6120 and it looks like some of the issues above have been fixed though the dual screen issue and Acer ring issues are still present.

    However, I have been having a major issue with controling my cursor and touch – both of which just stop working after aboout 30 minutes of use regardless of os that I use. I have worked with acer and they don’t really seem to want to help. If anyone is willing to help me trouble shoot, Please contact me. thank you!

    Reply
  19. Robert says

    Were you able to get the acer keyboard and mouse pad to work?
    If so how?

    Thanks
    Robert

    Reply
  20. Jacob says

    I am really interested in buying this laptop, but would you consider reviewing the Windows 8 experience again now that the full versions are out? I have W8Pro on my Touchsmart 300 and the iHeartRadio, HuluPlus, and Netflix apps do not work. I would love to know if they work with the Iconia though. Please get back to me.
    – Jacob

    Reply
  21. Michael says

    Your (11/11/2012) information pertaining to the compatibility (the final build) of Windows 8 and Compatibility with the lower touch screen of the Acer Iconia 6120, is inaccurate.

    It works fine. Acer’s windows 7 drivers and original applications and the virtual keyboard also work fine. (And the keyboard is easily activated by simply resting both hand on the lower screen.)

    You simply need to complete one final setup after configuring your displays properly and in the proper orientations. You must then open Control Panel, Go to “tablet PC Settings”, and choose “Setup”.

    During setup, after touching the top screen, hit “enter”, and also repeat the setup offered on the lower screen, by also touching the bottom screen, and hitting “enter” again; letting Widnows know you are utilizing two touch screens. It’s that Easy! 🙂

    Reply
  22. Marcelo says

    Hello everyone,
    I shall start from the beggining and the the worse part-the ghost touches ARE REALLY a hardware issue and my friend Iman got to fix it, if you want to contact him for the fix please let me know. Mine is as smooth as silk now. WINDOWS8-I´m running it right now and everything works perfect. I upgraded from the original windows7 of the Iconia after taking out the Bluetooth SOFTWARE not Driver, so you will still have bluetooth. Just take out the software and the Intel Badge and the upgrade will work. Once in Windows 8 you need to update the Intel graphics driver and then set the screens in extended desktop, and place the secondary screen under the primary in the Intel graphics software; then rotate the lower screen to 180º.
    To enable touch in both screens go to control panel, tablet pc settings, Configure and with a USB keyboard plugged, follow the on-screen instructions. The acer keyboard will work by going to Computer/C:/ here you enable the hidden files and folders then go on to OEM folder/DISWINKB and enable the two registry editors inside and also open that command script. Then you enter the folder under the DISWINKB called HOTFIX and do the same thing with the Setprefetchvalue command script. Restart the computer and if not fixed, reinstall the entire touch engine from OEM/Preload/Autorun/AutorunX/Autorun.exe where you select Content for apps and drivers; after that, do the steps of registry editing once again. Acer ring will only partialy work-the gestures don´t work nore the webclip and all the items inside the ring. The apps outside it WILL totaly work. The keyboard phisical key still doesn´t work when long press which causes lower screen to rotate to 0º but it fixes when short pressed by opening the task manager. So the KB button still works with the annoing effect of opening the task manager with the kb. But if you didn´t upgrade you BIOS it will work normally.
    So, if anyone else gets anything new, let us know.
    Cheers.

    Reply
  23. phissith says

    knock on wood okay! Suggest by someone on a forum, update driver with Touch driver from Acer tablet w500p works great so far. Give it a try!!

    Reply
  24. Pinko says

    i have just finished install windows 8 on iconia, full feature, thanks for all.

    Reply
  25. Stephen Graham says

    Getting the screen, ring and everything else to work properly in windows 8:

    get a copy of the applications cd, and install the following:
    Cypress Touch
    Intel AHCI
    Intel Turboboost/turboboost monitor
    NEC USB3
    Intel IAMT
    Acer Device Control
    Touchengine
    Social Jogger/Social Networking.

    During the process it should offer to install .net framework 3.5. if this does not happen use the add Windows Features tool to enable .net 3.5

    reboot, then in device manager, display adapters : update the display driver automatically, or you can use the one from the driver cd, which is a bit older…

    then, with an external keyboard fitted: in control panel, tablet pc settings, choose setup and make sure both screens have been selected as touch enabled.

    from here, the keyboard and ring apps should now work.

    Hope this helps someone……

    Reply
  26. David says

    Thanks to the comments on this forum I am now running Windows 8 Pro on my Acer Iconia 6120 with only two problems….

    Firstly, the keyboard lay out is showing me the US keyboard, but the keys are set to UK… So the ” is shown between ; and ENTER but actually is where @ is shown on Shift-2…. I can’t seem to find where the settings are to adjust this…

    Secondly, the touchpad is irrating,.. It will click normally if I use the button bits at the bottom, but where I used to be able to just tap within the rectangle to click, it will now select the item first, then I have to tap a second time….

    If anyone can help with these two bits I would be very grateful!!

    Apart from those two small points, the laptop is working fine… This was typed using the Acer Virtual Keyboard… Even Acer Ring works..!!

    Reply
  27. Mark says

    Going to attempt Windows 8 installation this weekend will be clean install with a new 120gb SSD hard drive and Windows 8 retail version 64bit and following instructions on this forum.

    I have also had ghost touch issue (running on battery) though find it only occurs when screen has lots greasy fingerprints once cleaned and restart seems to be ok, i know there are differing opinions on whether this is hardware or software issue so maybe someone could actually post some info if it is hardware what mods they have made to machine?

    Reply
  28. Mark says

    Windows 8 runs great on this machine 🙂

    Now just need to sort out ghost touch problem which seems to involve strip down and fitting of a thicker spacer between the touchscreen and lcd panel seems to be a static electrcity issue due to poor earthing design from info i have searched and searched the net on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LVdQo3e9ASo#!

    Reply
  29. Kike says

    Hi, I want to share with you a solution for the ghost touch and the “how to” for Windows 8 over Iconia 6120.

    Look at: http://iconiadual.blogspot.com.es/

    Actually, I’m looking for somebody who can help me with the embebed tri-axis sensor wich there is in the Iconia mainboard. I need a low-level C programmer because I have not this skill. Contact me for more details.

    Reply
  30. Pinballben says

    Has anyone been able to replace the wifi card with an Intel 2230 N or a Intel 6035 N? I would like to get the wireless display feature, but they don’t seem to work. I install the drivers, but in the device manager says Error code 10 “this device cannot start”. They work in my other laptop. Thanks Ben

    Reply

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