Acer Iconia W700 review

6 Feb 2013

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

Price when reviewed: 
593(£593 inc VAT)
4

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £494
Price inc VAT £593
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 5
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 296 x 196 x 10mm (WDH)
Weight 934g
Travelling weight 1.3kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i3-2365M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM77
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchscreen
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 53min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.41
Responsiveness score 0.58
Media score 0.37
Multitasking score 0.27

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8
Recovery method Recovery partition