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Acer’s sub-$1000 tablet notebook hybrid reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 5:42 pm 19/12/2012

Netbooks might have gone away, but Acer is attempting to bring back those small laptops in a different way, joining the hybrid game that Asus practically pioneered with the Transformer and giving it a few spins of its own.

Features

One of Acer’s less expensive Windows 8 options, the Acer W510 sets itself out to be a competitor for Microsoft’s own Surface range of products, packing in Intel’s system-on-a-chip Atom processor and the proper version of Windows 8, not that Windows RT version seen on Microsoft’s own tablet.

That processor is similar to what we used to see in netbook computers, with the positively new 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 running here, alongside 2GB RAM which isn’t much, but this isn’t a high-spec system, so is hardly surprising.

Because it’s not exactly a high speed system, Acer has gone with the 32-bit version of Windows 8, and partnered it with a 64GB solid-state drive, of which you have roughly 30GB to work with.

Storage expansion is possible, but you’ll need to do it through the microSD slot on the side of display, which itself is a 10.1 inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) screen with five points of multi-touch.

Cameras are also included, with an 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash, while the front – the screen – features what appears to be a 1.3 megapixel camera.

MicroSD isn’t the only port you have access to on that side, and our model arrived with a 3G SIM slot, microHDMI, and microUSB ports.

A 3.5mm headset jack can be found up top, alongside buttons for turning auto-rotate on and off, as well as power on the corner. A volume rocker can be found on the right side, the same side as the connectivity ports.

On the very bottom sits the power connector, which itself can plug into either the mains, or into the hinge on the keyboard dock accessory it comes with.

Like the Asus Transformer designs which practically started this whole docking tablet trend, this keyboard offers you more than just a neato keyboard to type with, as you’re given a small trackpad to use Windows 8 with, USB port, and an extra battery to charge up the rest of this machine.

A small switch can be found on the hinge to detach the tablet from the dock.

Performance

Ever since Microsoft decided to reinvent the wheel with Windows 8, we’ve seen quite a few laptops sporting touchscreens, most of which sit in the 11 to 13 inch Ultrabook space.

But one type of computer has certainly disappeared in the past few years, with the humble netbook becoming lost in the middle of Windows 7′s release period.

With an emphasis on tablet design in Windows 8 and more competing devices using the 9.7 to 10.1 inch sizes, Acer has seen fit to give that area a new lease on life, bringing back the Intel Atom chips that were made famous on the netbooks and make the new netbook a better proposition.

It’s important to note that Acer isn’t calling the W510 a netbook, because, well, it’s not. Even though it has an Atom processor at its heart, the W510 is a tablet with a keyboard dock, but thanks to the processing power inside and the inclusion of Windows 8 – not Surface’s Windows RT – it’s closer to a laptop than “just a tablet.”

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Price (RRP)

$849

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

A surprisingly fast portable computer; Plenty of ports; 3G option available; Great battery life for a Windows 8 machine;

Product Cons

You can lose characters while typing; No gestures on the trackpad; While the hinge is strong, the space inside the hinge isn't tight enough to stabilise the tablet; Screen topples over easily;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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