Acer Iconia W3 review

4 Jul 2013

An ugly first attempt at a compact Windows tablet, although strong performance raises hopes of better things to come

Price when reviewed 
330
Buy it now for 
3

Microsoft distributed thousands of Iconia W3s to developers at its recent Build conference to showcase Windows 8.1’s compact tablet credentials. If the Iconia W3 is the best it can do, it really is time to reach for the white flag.

The Iconia is a lumpen slab of cheap-feeling plastic and glass. At 500g, it’s significantly heavier than all of the compact tablets in this month’s Lab, bar the ruggedised Panasonic Toughpad JT-B1. It’s larger than all of them, too, thanks to a needlessly thick bezel and an extra plastic lip at the bottom, used to house the Windows button.

All that could have been forgiven – perhaps – if the screen was scintillating, but it’s far from it. The 800 x 1,280 display has that old-school, mottled touchscreen effect that makes it look as if it’s been sprayed with a fine mist. Colours are washed out, largely because the screen doesn’t span the entire SRGB gamut, although the maximum brightness of 329cd/m2 is acceptable.

Despite its exterior shortcomings, there’s little wrong on the inside. The 1.5GHz Atom Z2760 processor and 2GB of RAM keep Windows 8.1 perfectly responsive; there’s no discernible slowdown in demanding Windows Store games or video playback. A SunSpider benchmark score of 670ms is at least twice as fast as any other compact tablet we've seen.

Its 64GB of storage is a sensible minimum for a Windows tablet (the OS swallows more than 20GB of that), but there’s a microSD card slot on the side to bolster storage. There’s also a micro-HDMI port and a micro-USB port on the top of the tablet, although the W3 has to be charged via a separate 12-volt connector. Its tinny speakers make music sound like it’s leaking from the headphones of a teenager sitting next to you on a bus.

Acer Iconia W3

Battery life is respectable, clocking up almost ten hours in our looping video test. Given that the optional keyboard dock effectively turns the W3 into a mini laptop, that’s not to be discounted, although the dock achieves the unimaginable feat of being uglier and bulkier than the tablet itself.

At best, the Iconia W3 proves Windows 8.1 can run smoothly and for a respectable duration on a compact tablet. We can only hope there’s more attractive hardware to come, though, because the W3 doesn’t have anything like the quality to justify its premium £330 price tag.

Detail

Price ex VAT £275
Price inc VAT £330
Warranty 1 yr return to base
Overall rating 3
Performance 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 2

Physical

Dimensions 219 x 135 x 11mm (WDH)
Weight 500g

Display

Screen size 8.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 800
Resolution screen vertical 1,280

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1.8GHz
Integrated memory 64.0GB
RAM capacity 2.00GB

Other

WiFi standard 802.11bgn
Bluetooth support yes

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£328
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