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Acer Iconia W700 review

Verdict

Acer delivers a cut-price Windows 8 tablet with a fine Full HD display, but modest performance and plasticky accessories colour its appeal

Review Date: 6 Feb 2013

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £494 (£593 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

We've had to wait patiently, but Acer’s Iconia W700 is the first Windows 8 tablet to grace PC Pro's labs. The real surprise is the price: for just £593, the Iconia W700 packs in an 11.6in Full HD touchscreen, a Core i3 processor and somehow finds room in the budget for a case, a docking station and a Bluetooth keyboard.

At 934g and 10mm thick, it doesn’t rival Windows RT models for slenderness or light weight, but the Iconia W700 still looks the part. Light-coloured metal spreads across the back and surrounds the tablet’s circumference, folding over at the bottom edge where the engraved Acer logo and the Windows button have been placed. Build quality is impressively stout, too, with no flex in the metal chassis.

Acer Iconia W700

The Full HD 11.6in touchscreen comes as a surprise at this price. Despite a highly reflective layer of Gorilla Glass, the gleaming 422cd/m2 maximum brightness keeps it legible even outdoors. Colours are bold and pretty accurate, with natural skin tones and rich, saturated primary tones. The only mild disappointment is the contrast ratio: at 418:1, darker scenes aren’t as punchy and detailed as on the best models we’ve seen.

The Iconia treads a different path to its hybrid and docking tablet rivals. In the box is a separate Bluetooth desktop keyboard powered by four AAA batteries, a fake-leather folio case and a light, plasticky-feeling docking stand.

The folio case isn’t particularly stylish, but the lip around its edge offers some drop protection, and the ability to prop the tablet at one of two angles is useful. The dock is less appealing. It feels cheap and lightweight, with a plastic kickstand that slots into two positions at the rear to support the tablet in either portrait or landscape orientation. The plastic kickstand is also non-adjustable, holding the tablet at a set, rather steep angle.

Acer Iconia W700

Acer has hit this low price by opting for an older Sandy Bridge processor. The Core i3-2365M runs at 1.4GHz, and achieved a slow 0.41 in our Real World Benchmarks. The Toshiba SSD does its bit to keep things feeling spritely, but video encoding and multitasking quickly reveal the CPU’s limits, and the 64GB drive will fill up before you know it.

Even with such a low-powered CPU at the helm, the Iconia’s battery life isn’t stunning: 5hrs 53mins in our light-use battery test is acceptable, but that's with the display set to a calibrated brightness of just 75cd/m2. Push the screen brightness nearer to its rated 422cd/m2 maximum and you'll find yourself dashing back to the mains in no time at all.

Connectivity is fairly limited. There’s a single USB 3 port and a micro-HDMI port along the tablet’s left-hand edge, and a 3.5mm headset jack on the opposite side. Slot the Iconia into the dock and that improves, with three USB 3 ports at its rear. The front 0.9-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear-facing cameras are a boon, but output from both is grainy, with ugly compression artefacts smearing detail in our test shots.

Acer Iconia W700

Acer’s Iconia W700 is a reasonable attempt at a consumer Windows 8 tablet, and it’s keenly priced. It has serious weaknesses, however. On the move, the lack of a docking keyboard makes it far less usable than many rival tablets or hybrid devices, and the absence of active stylus support hinders its appeal as a dedicated tablet. Factor in the modest performance and, although the price may be right, this tablet doesn’t quite make the grade.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments

Puzzled

Am a bit puzzled - are your expectations too high? - to me, this looks very attractive. I bought an Asus S200 before Christmas because I couldn't wait any longer for a convertible tablet which did what I wanted - and because Comet were selling them at £300 :)

You raved about the S200, and to me, this doesn't look too different. Sure, £150 more (but, as your review says, at £450 the S200 is a bargain). But this has a better screen (Full HD at this price is remarkable for a Windows device). Almost identical battery life. Fairly similar performance (0.41 vs 0.48, I think). and the benefits of being a tablet. Sure, it doesn't have a clamshell option, which personally I would want, but for a tablet to come with a keyboard at this price is surely pretty good - it's the same price as a Transformer 700, but with full Windows, and a far quicker processor. Is it currently realistic to expect more than this for the money, or for this to be (even) cheaper?

By JimmyN on 6 Feb 2013

Look at the possible use cases

I think part of the problem is that this potentially fills an interesting niche - or it would do if there were a monitor connection on the dock...

There's a case for a PC that never leaves the office or house but that can also do the tablet thing. However for that to work well connection to desktop keyboard/monitor/mouse/network needs to be just about putting the machine in its dock, as soon as you have to plug in multiple cables its a fail )-: (I know I could use a USB docking station, but that pushes the price up).

By Murph on 6 Feb 2013

@ Sasha

Why are we still referring to "802.11 draft-n support" on the spec sheets? This spec was ratified way back in 2009!

Also what about battery life?

By JohnAHind on 6 Feb 2013

higher psecs

This does come in higher specs. There is a i5 128gb version. If you are vat registered, I found this on a German website a couple of months back at good prices. In UK it is £625+vat.
I have played with it and thought it was good fun. It seems a much better option then the covnertable laptops for anyone who needs a full powered cross as it works well as a lapwop/pc in the office/home/hotel and you can carry around the light weight tablet part all day easily.
I thought the dock worked well but I do not play on it long. Adverts say it is supplied with a pen so I assume it works with one.

By Zippy204 on 6 Feb 2013

spolling mistaks

I apologise for my spelling errors. I should prepare it in word first until I learn to check properly.

By Zippy204 on 6 Feb 2013

Stylus

I'm wondering when the w700'p' version will hit as that's supposed to support, hopefully wacom, a nice active digitizer etc.

If the i5 version featured an SDXC reader I'd buy but... oh well.

If you opt for the Samsung 700t then expect to have the keyboard disconnection issue along with being limited to 64Gb in the UK (U.S. gets a 128Gb version). This leaves either the old Samsung 7 slate (Screen separation issues) or finally, probably the best, the Surface Pro.

Shame that the Lenovo Helix has been pushed back.

By rhythm on 6 Feb 2013

P.s.

The Core i5 (HD 4000) version of the W700 throttles the CPU quite a lot so please take that into consideration if you go for the better spec model over the i3.

By rhythm on 6 Feb 2013

Keep taking the tablets

Yes, I know that tablets look and feel terribly convenient, and I know that being able to make them is a wonderful achievement.
BUT
Look at the laptop you could buy for £600.
Look at the desktop PC you could buy for £600.
Consider how awkward tablets are to use as soon as you need to type more than 10 characters.
Is £600 for a glorified media player with a web browser a sensible proposition ? I'm really struggling to say yes to that.
Do any of us really need computers on the go ? Almost never.
I am not a Luddite, but I do like to spend my money wisely. I choose not to have a tablet, but several friends have cheap devices (£130) which allow them to read newspapers and books on their daily commute - that seems reasonable. I have a netbook (£200) which travels in my briefcase and is used at my destination if there is no other computer available - it sees surprisingly little service. At home I have an extremely powerful PC with a really good monitor, total cost around £500. A hybrid laptop/tablet such as an Asus Transformer or a HP Envy might just about manage all of those roles, but at typically £700 and £800 they offer no price advantage over specialised devices.
So many people seem to be rushing in to buy the latest shiny device without considering whether it really satisfies a genuine demand. They seem not to understand or care that the demand may just have been created artificially, or that the manufacturers are taking the mickey with their prices. Having been driven into selling PCs at very low margins, the latter have chosen to set prices similar to those used by Apple to fleece their sheep, and we consumers are being suckered into paying way over the odds for convenience which is of questionable value.
Emperor ... new clothes ...
There, I feel better.

By howardabates1 on 7 Feb 2013

Cheapo version is good

The cheapo version of the Acer Iconia B1 is on sale at Asda for £99. Just been looking at a review of it on Androidizen.com

By LizzieC on 7 Feb 2013

@ howardabates

Fair points, going back to the discussions here 1-2 years back about "what are tablet for?". I thin most people agreed with you that we are finding use for tablets rather than creating them to fill a requirement.
I use a small lightweight one for when I am walking around at fairs/exhibitions for 8 hours and need to show customers spreadhseets/contracts/specifications/photos of products or our premises etc. I do not want to carry around a laptop for 8 hours.
I find it useful for that and any small bits of work that crop during the day. I have a laptop back at the hotel to do the major work of emails etc. (I do not play games/watch films etc.)
I think this might do the job of the laptop (with the dock back at base) and as the tablet during the day. Therefore, I feel this makes more sense than the convertibles.
I also have decent PCs in the office and home for the donkey work.

By Zippy204 on 8 Feb 2013

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