Acer Iconia W4 review
Acer gets it right on the second attempt: the Iconia W4 is an inexpensive, reasonably nippy Windows 8 compact tablet
The Acer Iconia W4 is the company’s second stab at a compact Windows 8.1 tablet, and it hopes to make amends for last year’s disappointing Iconia W3. On paper, it does everything right: the Iconia W4 packs in a nippier Atom Bay Trail processor, bundles a free copy of Microsoft Office, upgrades the display with a gleaming IPS panel and slashes the price to only £252 inc VAT. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014
Design and display
It’s the IPS display that immediately grabbed our attention; it’s a significant improvement on Iconia W3’s grainy, washed-out TN panel. The 800 x 1,280 screen resolution remains the same, but the wider viewing angles and vivacious colour reproduction are obvious from the get go. If there’s a negative, it’s a minor one: the Acer’s vibrant image quality comes at the expense of accuracy, and it narrowly failed to dredge up every hue and tone from the sRGB colour gamut. Otherwise, though, it’s a solid display. We measured the Iconia W4’s LED backlight peaking at a brightness of 312cd/m², and it delivered a fine contrast ratio of 1,030:1.
Display aside, the Iconia W4 is physically similar to its predecessor. Thankfully, however, Acer has abandoned the cheap-looking matte-white finish of the original model. The Iconia W4 is far classier looking, thanks to a brushed-metal effect which covers the rear and softens into a matte grey around the edges and front. It is still a chunky 11mm thick, but the rounded edges feel comfy in the hand and, at 415g, it’s 85g lighter than the Iconia W3. Build quality is good, too, and apart from a little bit of give in the back panel, this is a solid, substantial-feeling compact tablet.
Unlike Asus’ stylus-equipped VivoTab Note 8, the Iconia W4 has to rely on fingertips alone. Still, the touchscreen is more than responsive enough for flicking through webpages and navigating through Windows. Some desktop applications can be fiddly to use, but it’s here that the modest screen-resolution and Windows 8.1 scaling settings work together to provide sensibly sized icons and menu items. We were also pleased to see that Acer has located the physical Windows button on the lower bezel – Asus’ VivoTab Note 8 moved the Windows button to the tablet’s edge, and we found it far too easy to press by mistake.
Under the hood, however, there have been some significant changes. Acer has replaced the Iconia W3’s Intel Atom Z2760 with a 1.33GHz Atom Z3740 supported by 2GB of DDR3 RAM. The result is a significantly improved performance across the board and, when compared to Android and iOS tablets, Intel’s Bay Trail-generation Atom delivers a serious kick in the SunSpider browser benchmark. Indeed, while the Iconia W3 soared past much of the competition with a SunSpider result of 670ms, the Iconia W4 sped to a score of 430ms – almost 36% faster. By way of comparison, the Apple iPad mini with Retina display finished the test in 418ms.
|Price ex VAT||£210|
|Price inc VAT||£252|
|Warranty||1yr Parts & Labour|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||5|
|Dimensions||135 x 11 x 219mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||800|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,280|
|CPU frequency, MHz||1MHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
|Upstream USB ports||1|
|Mobile operating system||Windows 8.1 32-bit|