Acer Iconia W3 evaluation: what’s it like utilizing Home windows on an eight-inch pill?
It is kind of exhausting to consider, however the first sub-10-inch Home windows eight pill solely simply went on sale two weeks in the past. For now, at the least, the Acer Iconia W3 is the one eight-inch choice obtainable, although it certainly will not be the final. What’s extra, it arrives in lockstep with Home windows eight.1, which brings a number of enhancements which may make an e-reader-sized pill like this particularly straightforward to make use of (assume: the power to snap pictures from the lock display). And with a beginning worth of $380 (Microsoft Workplace included!) it might be an incredible purchase amongst Home windows tablets, interval, no matter display measurement. Let’s examine if it truly is.
Acer Iconia W3
- Fairly priced
- Microsoft Workplace included
- Lengthy battery life
- For now, the one eight-inch Home windows eight pill
- Washed-out display with poor viewing angles
Along with its moveable, straightforward-to-maintain type issue, the W3’s lengthy battery life and affordable worth make it an awesome worth amongst Home windows tablets.
Should you recall, the ten-inch Acer Iconia W510 pill was the primary completed Home windows eight gadget we examined, so it isn’t shocking the corporate is laying declare to the primary eight-inch product as nicely. And whaddya know? The W3 seems identical to its massive sibling, besides reduce right down to measurement. This, too, has a grey plastic again cowl and a band of white ringing the edges and entrance. At 1.1 kilos, it is the lightest pill we all know of that runs full Home windows eight, however that is only a victory by default — it isn’t like there are some other eight-inch Win eight tablets but or something. Much more than its precise weight (it is solely barely lighter than the W510), its actual benefit is its extra compact measurement, which makes it simpler to carry. We might argue, too, that as boxy because the pill is, its chunky form helps make for a snug match. Ditto for the rounded corners and softened edges. Not fairly, precisely, however nice to the touch.
And by the best way, even though that is kind of a thick pill, it does not truly make room for that many ports: There’s your requisite energy / lock button on the left, together with micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports. Flip it over to the suitable panorama edge and you have got each audio system, together with the facility port and an ordinary three.5mm headphone jack. All that is left are the quantity buttons up prime, plus an uncovered microSD slot (and a little bit of conspicuous Iconia branding). Wrapping up, there are cameras on the entrance bezel and in addition round again. Surprisingly, they’re truly the identical decision: two megapixels.Keyboard dock
In contrast to with the W510 when it first got here out, the W3 does not come normal with a keyboard; you need to purchase it individually for $eighty. One factor hasn’t modified, nevertheless: the Bluetooth keyboard right here continues to be probably the most awkward a part of the design. On this case, the eight-inch W3 is paired with a full-sized keyboard, one that may be extra at house on a thirteen-inch laptop computer. In accordance with an Acer rep we interviewed again at Computex, the corporate determined a bigger keyboard would make for a greater typing expertise, even when the small pill and large keypad make for an ugly duo. We will not say we disagree: the keys are properly-spaced and deep, even when the underlying panel is a bit flimsy. And in addition to, if different PC makers cannot nail the typing expertise on a ten-inch gadget, how was Acer ever going to have an opportunity of success with an eight-inch mannequin? Are you able to think about the issues we might have written on this assessment? Two phrases, people: area day.
Even so, this factor has some extremely unusual design parts. Beginning with the keyboard deck itself, there is a rounded slot the place the pill is supposed to take a seat, together with a barely protruding piece to prop it up. When it is simply sitting there, the pill stays put. However when it comes time to vary rooms, or pack up and go elsewhere, you’ve got received two decisions, certainly one of them being: “Maintain the keyboard as regular as you possibly can, with the pill nonetheless inside, and pray you do not drop it.” The opposite choice is to pop the pill right into a scooped-out space on the again of the keyboard, which was designed to cradle the system when not in use. The issue is, inserting it may be a barely finicky affair, notably because the system does not make a lot of a “click on” whenever you set it in, so it may be unclear once you’ve truly inserted it appropriately. (To its credit score, it by no means, ever fell out throughout our testing.) Moreover, having to cease to place the pill in its slot takes time. Not a lot time, however a number of seconds every go-spherical, particularly should you do not but know what you are doing. It might be far more environment friendly to snap the pill right into a keyboard dock with a correct hinge mechanism, and easily shut it whenever you’re prepared to maneuver.Show and sound
Even for a price range pill, the W3’s eight.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 display seems like a letdown. Head-on, a minimum of, colours are balanced and the pixel density is agreeable, however when you modify the display angle in any respect, whether or not it’s horizontally or vertically, the panel shortly turns into washed out. Decide a actually off-kilter angle and the display takes on a sickly yellow overcast, particularly in areas which might be presupposed to be white. That is dangerous information for individuals who do not instantly purchase the non-compulsory keyboard dock; you are going to spend so much of time with the pill resting face-up on a desk or your lap. And it is a disgrace, as a result of we’re fairly positive the business is best than this: if ASUS and Amazon could make price range Android tablets with knockout screens, certainly the identical could be completed for Home windows… proper?
As for the sound high quality, it is a number of the tinniest, weakest we have heard from a pill but. Have been you anticipating rather more from an additional-small, additional-reasonably priced gadget?Efficiency and battery life
These days, we have principally been testing Home windows PCs with full-fledged Core processors inside — you already know, Core i5, sometimes Core i7. And as increasingly more OEMs have upgraded their wares to Haswell, we have famous a large efficiency bounce, notably close to battery life. Within the case of low-powered tablets, although, we do not but have a brand new Atom chipset from Intel, which suggests all of the fashions we’re testing proceed to have equivalent specs: specifically, a 1.8GHz Z2760 CPU, Intel HD graphics and 2GB of RAM.
Not surprisingly, then, it performs kind of just like the others, notably in relation to learn and write speeds. Within the disk benchmark ATTO, the Samsung-made drive reached peak learn / write speeds of eighty four MB/s and 35 MB/s, respectively, which is close to-similar to what we have seen on each different mannequin, plus a megabyte or two. We additionally logged a 15-second startup time, which is not distinctive, precisely — the Lenovo ThinkPad Pill 2 performs simply the identical — nevertheless it’s nonetheless quicker than what we have seen from a couple of competing choices. HP’s ElitePad 900, for instance, takes a full 30 seconds as well into the Begin Display. If something, we want the accelerometer have been faster to modify between panorama and portrait orientation. Not that different tablets are nice at this both, however with bigger 10-inch fashions, you are in all probability much less more likely to ever use it vertically within the first place.
In any other case, it performs about the identical as different Atom-powered tablets. Although it scores barely greater in PCMark 7, a attainable results of the improve to Home windows eight.1, that does not translate into considerably higher actual-world efficiency. As we have all the time stated, Atom processors, as low-powered as they’re, are enough for exactly the kinds of belongings you may do on a pill (particularly slightly one like this). We had no drawback streaming music and video, or opening and switching between apps. It can choke on graphically detailed video games earlier than you even get previous the opening animation sequence, however once more, you are not shopping for a pill like this since you need to play BioShock Infinite.
Acer charges the W3 for eight hours of battery life, however actually, that is only a conservative estimate accepted by the corporate’s authorized division. Because it occurs, the pill managed a powerful 9 hours and 21 minutes in our battery check, and that was underneath pretty grueling circumstances too (video looping off native storage, WiFi on, brightness at sixty five %). Had we caught to net browsing and lowered the brightness a notch, we’re positive we might’ve squeezed out much more runtime.Software program and guarantee
As a result of we borrowed our assessment unit from Microsoft whereas attending the Construct 2013 developer convention, it got here pre-loaded with Home windows eight.1 Preview. As you may already know, it’s going to be one other month but earlier than Microsoft even ships eight.1 to PC makers, so for now the pill comes with common previous Home windows eight out of the field. In fact, you possibly can obtain the preview your self anytime you are prepared (hit the extra protection hyperlink under for the obtain web page).
When you’re enthusiastic about a full rundown on what Home windows eight.1 consists of, we encourage you to learn our in-depth palms-on, which particulars all the brand new apps, in addition to the varied UI tweaks (assume: enhanced windowing choices, the return of the Begin button, et cetera). For the needs of this evaluate, although, we’ll say this: Home windows is a delight to make use of in portrait mode, which you may need not often accomplished earlier than, however can be tempted to attempt now that there is lastly a pill sufficiently small to comfortably maintain in a vertical place. And whereas you might have all the time been one of many few to make use of Home windows eight in portrait, the most recent model of the software program brings some tweaks that make it particularly properly suited to smaller, e-reader-sized screens. For instance, the expanded selection of Stay Tiles, together with the tremendous-small ones, means you possibly can higher make use of that slender display actual property when holding the pill vertically.
Home windows is a delight to make use of in portrait mode.
Moreover, Microsoft’s added a pair of keyboard shortcuts that make on-display typing simpler. Particularly, you’ll be able to swipe the area bar to cycle via spelling ideas, after which faucet it to pick the one you need. This works like a appeal, saving you the (minor) ache of getting to take away your palms from the QWERTY space to faucet on a spelling pop-up. Additionally, you possibly can lengthy-press a key to get at alternate characters (the query mark doubles because the exclamation level, for example). Even higher, as soon as you recognize the place these secondary image choices are going to pop up on-display, you possibly can simply swipe the button in query in that particular path. Coming again to that exclamation level, for example, the exclamation all the time seems as a pop-up above the query mark, so you possibly can swipe upward on the query mark to make an exclamation level. This, too, works as promised, in order that you do not have to faucet a number of occasions simply to get to these overseas foreign money symbols.
Additionally, we love that you would be able to now take pictures from the gadget’s lock display. This can be a welcome function on 10-inch Home windows eight.1 tablets too, however it’s particularly handy right here, the place the shape issue is mild (and perhaps even discreet) sufficient to make use of as a standalone digital camera. Lastly, in a refreshing twist, Workplace 2013 does not simply come pre-put in on the W3; it is also free to activate. Simply use a code that comes within the field and luxuriate in.
Like different merchandise from Acer (and just about each different firm, actually), the W3 comes with a one-yr guarantee, together with 24/7 telephone help.Configuration choices and the competitors
As spectacular as our evaluation unit’s $430 worth is, it isn’t even the most cost effective configuration Acer has to supply. For $380, you will get it with principally the identical specs, besides with half the space for storing (32 gigs versus sixty four). Oh, and when you occur to be purchasing for this on some third-get together website, like Amazon, the configuration codes are as follows: W3-810-1416 for the 64GB mannequin, and W3-810-1600 for the 32GB one. Both approach, as we talked about, the keyboard will add $eighty to the worth, whereas an non-compulsory carrying case prices $35.
For now, for those who’re on the lookout for a smaller-screened Home windows pill, the Acer W3 is your greatest and solely choice. ASUS is rumored to be engaged on one thing comparable, and we’re inclined to consider that Wall Road Journal story on the hyperlink, although firm officers have up to now declined to remark. The issue is, if this report is to be believed, the pill(s) will not arrive till later this yr, which in all probability means vacation buying season at this level, as ASUS has principally missed the again-to-faculty window. Lastly, we additionally would not be stunned if Microsoft chimed in with a smaller Floor pill, although good luck getting Microsoft to touch upon that.
Assuming you are not lifeless-set on an eight-inch gadget, although, there are many good Home windows tablets, most of which supply spectacular battery life even on final yr’s Atom CPU. Excluding any ARM-powered Home windows RT units, our favorites are the reasonably priced ASUS VivoTab Sensible and the Lenovo ThinkPad Pill 2, which prices extra, however provides pen help, optionally available 4G LTE and the most effective dang keyboard dock we have ever used. We might advocate extra highly effective Core i5 fashions just like the Floor Professional too, however most have not been upgraded with Haswell but, and the battery life will not be almost so long as what you get right here.Wrap-up
In the intervening time, at the least, the Acer Iconia W3 is not simply the perfect small-screened Home windows eight pill; it is your solely choice. Even when there have been extra to select from, although, the W3 has a couple of issues to advocate in its personal proper. Primary is worth. With a beginning MSRP of $380, Microsoft Workplace included, we will nearly forgive most of its flaws, together with its low cost construct high quality and that oddly designed keyboard. And to be truthful, it’s going to be exhausting for any OEM to craft a great eight-inch keyboard. Simply sayin’.
Moreover, the W3 lasts almost 9 and a half hours on a cost, and that is beneath grueling circumstances, and with out assistance from a second battery. The one factor we might actually change is the display — if finances Android tablets just like the Nexus 7 can have good screens, so can low-finish Home windows tablets. As is, although, the W3 proves that Home windows eight is a superb match for smaller-screened units. Much more than that, it is an ideal worth; the most effective bang-for-your-buck Home windows eight pill you are going to discover. And sure, that features the bigger guys too.
Extra Protection: Home windows eight.1 Preview
Extra Protection: Home windows eight.1 Preview