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First Impressions: Acer Iconia W3 8″ Windows 8 Tablet

AcerIconiaW3Acer has recently released an 8.1″ Windows 8 tablet called the Acer Iconia W3.  Due to a few different reasons this model has received mixed reviews.  Keeping in mind that this is the world’s first Windows 8 tablet in the 8″ form factor, and the retail price is currently $299 for the 32 GB and $379 for the 64 GB model, I wanted to review this device for myself.  Acer was nice enough to send me a new unit (64 GB version) to evaluate.

In the iOS and Android realms the 7″ and 8″ tablets seem to be outselling their larger counterparts.  The smaller form factor of the mini tablet seems to be more natural to hold than the larger 10″ models.  I am excited to see whether the same is true with this Windows 8 tablet.  I will be reviewing this Acer Iconia W3 on both a personal and professional level.  I want to see how useful it is as a consumer device, and also whether it can be used to do real work in the enterprise world.

Specifications of Acer Iconia W3 Tablet:
  • OS: Windows 8, 32-bit
  • Processor: Intel® Atom™ dual-core processor Z2760 (1.5GHz/1.8GHz w/ Intel® Burst)
  • Memory: 2GB LPDDR2 memory
  • Storage: 64GB internal storage
  • Display: 8.1″ CrystalBrite™ LED-backlit multi-touch display (1280 x 800), 5-point multi-touch control, dual independent display support
  • Graphic: Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator w/ 64MB of dedicated system memory
  • Audio: High definition audio
  • Webcam: 2MP front- and rear-facing webcams
  • Network: WiFi – Acer Nplify 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth®: Yes
  • Ports: Micro-HDMI® port with HDCP support, Micro USB 2.0 port
  • Card reader: MicroSD memory slot up to 32GB (SDHC 2.0 compatible)
  • Battery: 2-Cell Li-Polymer (3500 mAh); up to 8 hours of battery life
  • Software included: Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2013 Edition
  • Warranty: Limited Warranty agreement applies.

First Impressions:

After unboxing the device, I realized that the tablet is smaller and lighter than I imagined.  It reminds me a lot of the original Amazon Kindle Fire.  The device is as comfortable to hold as most other tablets its size.  At only 1.1 lbs, this device is one of the lightest PCs available today, making it seem comfortable to hold.  Lets see if this holds true after using it for the next few weeks.

The Acer Iconia W3 comes with an Acer Crystal Eye HD webcam, but places it in the middle of the bezel along the top (short side).  This is fine if you are using your camera in portrait mode, but in landscape mode it is positioned exactly where you would put your left hand.  I will test the quality at a later time.

The outside edge of the case houses several useful buttons and ports.  The power button is located on the short top edge (in portrait mode).  Powering the device on and off is lightning fast due to the efficiency of the Intel Atom Z2760 CPU.

There is one micro USB port for attaching wired peripheral devices, not for charging.  I’m guessing the decision to use micro USB instead of a full-sized USB port was to save space.  Unfortunately the product doesn’t seem to ship with an adapter cable, so make sure to purchase one with this device otherwise you will not be able to use a USB keyboard or mouse.

I’m testing the 64 GB version of the Iconia W3 which comes with about 31 GB of free space.  Additional storage can be achieved using the MicroSD expansion card slot.

On the same side as the MicroSD expansion card slot, is a pair of physical volume buttons.  If you’ve ever used a tablet without volume buttons, then you know just how important they are.

There is also a handy micro HDMI port to connect to a TV or monitor which supports HDMI.

As I mentioned, the USB port is not used for charging.  Instead there is a dedicated power port for the 12V (1.5A) power adapter.  The power adapter is reasonably small so it should not take up much room in a bag.  The power adapter also supports various outlet tips for those who may be traveling abroad (only the tip for US power outlets was included).

The LCD touch display is a 1280 x 800 resolution.  The display brightness is even brighter than some desktop LCD Monitors.  There is one negative, though.  There appears to be a speckled effect on one of the layers of glass.  This is one of the reasons others have given this device poor reviews.  The speckled effect is especially noticeable on white backgrounds, such as working in Microsoft Word.

There are built-in radios for both Bluetooth and Wireless b/g/n.  While there is no physical ethernet port, you should have no trouble accessing just about any wireless network.  Using the Bluetooth controls built in to Windows 8, I was able to easily pair a Bluetooth keyboard with the Acer Iconia W3 tablet.

In this first round of tests, my impressions are middle of the road.  This certainly is not a top of the line device, but at this fantastic price point, it is a very afordable device.  For someone who will only use the new Windows RT interface, this could be a nice, inexpensive, option for a portable consumer computer.  When demoing this to family, a couple of people even considered replacing their existing desktop PC with this device.  This device clearly has consumers in mind, but it is also a very portable Windows 8 PC.

As I mentioned Acer was nice enough to send me this loaner unit which I will sadly have to send back.  I will be following up this post with my final thoughts after using this device daily for my three week review.

About the author

Robert Borges

About Robert...

I have been in the IT industry since 1993 focusing mainly in networking. Though I got an early start as an amateur computer enthusiast, and wrote my first database app at age 12, I started my professional career working in the MIS department of one of the largest liquor distributors in the northeast. I started out there as a systems operator on the company’s two mainframe systems. From there I moved into PC support, and help design and implement the company’s first client-server network… This was back in the days of Win NT 3.51. I also worked on my first migration to NT 4.0 back then.

From there I went on to work with Novell 3.x and 4.x along with Windows domains and active directory environments. Working my way up from technician, to specialist, to administrator, and eventually all the way up to Sr. Engineer. I spent many years working for consulting firms, 9 of which I owned and operated my own firm.
Over the years, I have worked with (at an expert level) various versions of: Windows client and server operating systems (including Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016); various virtualization technologies (Hyper-V, VMware, etc.); MS-SQL server 6.5- 2014 R2; Exchange 4-2016, and much more.

I am now vCIO at Spade Technology, Inc. focusing on Information Technology strategy including: cloud computing, IT Infrastructure & Architecture, IT Security, and Cloud Computing platforms & technologies (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).

Outside of my day job, I serve as president of the board of Boston User Groups, Inc., as well as IT-Pro User Group. In 2017/2018 Microsoft awarded me the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award, with a focus of Microsoft Azure cloud, for my efforts in the IT community.

I am in a constant state of learning about new products, and new versions of products. Many of which we end up implementing in lab environments and sometimes for our clients. I have a very broad range of expertise and experience. It is my goal to share some of this experience on this blog to help enrich the IT community.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.robertborges.us/2013/09/mobile-computing/first-impressions-acer-iconia-w3-8-windows-8-tablet/

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