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A double dose of eight: Acer’s Iconia W3 reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 3:42 pm 22/08/2013

Can the eighth iteration of Windows be properly contained inside of an 8 inch tablet? Acer is the first to try this combination, bringing the full power of Windows 8 down to a size that can be held and used in one hand.

Features

Acer sure dabbles in a lot of devices, and with the Iconia W3, it’s showing that it can be the first in a new place: small-scale Windows tablets.

More compact than the 10 and 11 inch Windows 8 tablets we normally see, Acer has built this to be an 8 inch tablet, relying on a 8.1 inch screen running 1280×800, slightly lower than the 1368×768 screen resolution devices normally sport, but also still HD capable. The screen does of course support touch, which is a necessary requirement of any tablet.

Inside the tablet, you’ll find similar hardware to a lot of other tablets, with Acer choosing Intel’s Atom processor technology to run here. As such, there’s the Z2760 clocked at 1.8GHz paired with 2GB RAM, running alongside Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Storage is set to 32GB, and this can be upgraded with a microSD slot found on the top edge of the tablet.

Tablets generally feature cameras, and Acer has included two of those, with a 2 megapixel front-facing camera and a 2 megapixel rear camera, too.

Connectivity is pretty standard, with wireless relying on 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, while wired connections can be seen in the microUSB port, microHDMI, and 3.5mm headset jack.

Even with the 8 inch touchscreen, you’ll find a few buttons here, including the power button on the left edge, volume buttons up top (next to the microSD slot), and a physical Windows button to bring you back to the Start menu screen on the front.

A power-pack is included, with a small but proprietary port connection.

Performance

The idea of a small tablet has always intrigued us, and when Apple jumped on the bandwagon after all the Android devices had been out for some time, we knew that the smaller-than-10 inch form factor had more or less been verified.

With that done, Acer is the first to try out the small size Windows 8 space, reducing Microsoft’s touch-centric operating system to a smaller device than it has ever seen.

In fact, credit to Acer goes for working with the proper version of Windows 8 and not the handicapped Windows RT. This distinction means you can run Windows apps from Vista and Windows 7 on Windows 8 and apps acquired from the Windows 8 Store, while RT-based devices – like Microsoft’s Surface tablet – can only run apps found on the Windows 8 Store.

It’s an important difference, and one that means a copy of QuickBooks or CounterStrike that you run at home on your old Windows 7 desktop can run here on Acer’s eight inch tablet.

We can’t say how well, especially since each has different requirements, but Acer’s W3 is an Atom powered tablet, and should have no problem with either of these tasks.

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Price (RRP)

$449

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Proper version of Windows 8 in a small size; Despite plastic build, feels surprisingly solid; Reasonably quick; Decent battery life;

Product Cons

Low grade screen; Display feels pixelated and hard to look at; Out of the 32GB storage, you only get 9GB once Windows is installed; No keyboard dock included in the package; Doesn't use microUSB to charge from;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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