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Acer Iconia W4 review

Verdict

Acer gets it right on the second attempt: the Iconia W4 is an inexpensive, reasonably nippy Windows 8 compact tablet

Review Date: 14 Feb 2014

Reviewed By: Bobby MacPherson

Price when reviewed: £210 (£252 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

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.

Acer Iconia W4

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.

Performance

Acer Iconia W4

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.

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User comments

Please could we have ...

Some screenshots of what Office looks like on these compact tablets? It's hard to imagine - in portrait there's hardly enough width for the ribbon whilst in landscape the height of the document area must be minimal.

But the pricing is incredible - Microsoft must be virtually giving away the OS and Office licenses!

By JohnAHind on 14 Feb 2014

64Gb Version ~£300

Acer do list a 64Gb version - which is listed on some sites just under £300. This is less than a 16Gb iPad mini and you get full fat windows compatibility - what's not to like?

By milliganp on 14 Feb 2014

W4?

Is this the Chiswick edition? :^)

By mrmmm on 14 Feb 2014

Is "potent" the word of the day at Dennis?

By DArtiss on 14 Feb 2014

@JohnAHind

Almost all laptops are still 1366x768, so I don't see why 1280x800 should be a problem for Windows Apps. An 8" screen is another issue.

By milliganp on 14 Feb 2014

Checked out at PC World

Popped into PC world today and compared 8" and 10" Windows tablets.
They didn't have office running but used WordPad. Perfectly usable in portrait or landscape on 8" tablet.
HP 10" (1920x1080) tablet convenient to use 2 handed. Now do I spend £249 or £329?

By milliganp on 21 Feb 2014

it's slightly bigger than the ipad mini, but the screen looks small...i've both this and the ipad, and for a small-screen, 4:3 aspect ratio is better

By smartx on 29 Mar 2014

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