Acer Iconia W4 8 inch Windows tablet with Bay Trail makes an appearance (video)

The Acer Iconia W4 is a tablet with an 8 inch display, Windows 8.1 software, and an Intel Atom Z3740 Bay Trail processor. Acer hasn’t officially introduced the new tablet yet, but it’s pretty clear that this is the successor to the Acer Iconia W3, the company’s first 8 inch Windows tablet.

The new model has a faster processor, a better display, and it should get better battery life.

We first learned about the Iconia W4 earlier this week, and now Dutch website BouweenPC has posted a few more details, along with a hands-on video.

Acer Iconia W4

The tablet reportedly has 2GB of RAM, 32GB of solid state storage, a 5MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, microSD card reader and micro HDMI port. It also features WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

The two biggest improvements involve the processor and the display. The new Bay Trail chip should offer up to twice the performance over the Clover Trail processor in the Iconia W3, while also offering longer battery life.

While the tablet still has a 1280 x 800 pixel display, it’s been upgraded from a TN panel to an IPS display. That means you’ll get significantly better viewing angles — the Iconia W3 was hard to use if you weren’t holding it at precisely the right angle.

Acer’s new tablet comes with Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student, which isn’t surprising, since Microsoft is offering it as a free addition for pretty much any Windows tablet with a 10 inch or smaller display. But it does help justify the admittedly low price tag of this sort of tablet.

The Iconia W4 is expected to sell for about 330 Euros, and I suspect that means it’ll cost $400 or less when it hits the US. There’s no official word on a price or launch date, but since this tablet comes with Windows 8.1 pre-loaded, it seems safe to assume it won’t launch until after Windows 8.1 becomes available in mid-October.

  • Sam Curcio

    Windows tablets under 10″ are useless to me. Sure, a user can get away with a 7 or 8 inch device just for reviewing emails, watching videos, and surfing the web. However, those sizes don’t cut it for productivity.

  • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

    I have an Acer Iconia W3-810, which I received for attending the //BUILD/ conference, and have been underwhelmed by it and its keyboard, which doesn’t include a touchpad. I agree with Sam Curcio that Windows tablets under 10 inches are useless for productivity.

  • Sim Gennie

    display smaller than 10″ is not for productivity. That is the exact reason what Microsoft bundle Office on tablets with that size. Microsoft know now they wont get a cent from selling Office to be installed on such tablets. So they pre install Office (OEM license – non machine transferable) on them. It creates the “illusion” of value for money for the tablet.

    • CyberGusa

      Not really an illusion, people have been using smaller than 10″ devices for work for many years… it’s just not something the majority would tend to do but this was the basis for the UMPC (5 to 7 inch) and early netbook (7 to 8.9 inch) markets before 10.1 to 11.6 inch became the compromise between mobile (phones to tablets) and portable (notebook/laptops) devices.

      Sure, such usage is less than ideal but being mobile always involves compromises and trade offs in order to be mobile.

      But lets not forget these devices also tend to be very flexible… simply dock with a larger screen and keyboard and mouse and you can use it then a lot more comfortably to do work!

      Most mobile devices, even phones, support video out and bluetooth and even wifi connect-able keyboard and mouses are pretty common now too. You can even get a, say 12.1″, portable USB powered screen and have a mobile kit you can set up anywhere to transform that sub 10″ tablet into something you can get some real work done in a pinch.

      So, I wouldn’t underestimate the potential of what these new generation of devices can offer… After all, even MS is now offering a lot more peripherals and options for the Surface series and the more common these devices become then the more 3rd party vendors will start providing such solutions…

      Mind also the new technologies being pushed, like Miracast can allow any supported screen to be turned into a monitor for the device and you then won’t need any extra wires or connectors… and there’s plenty of other similar improvements coming out as well…

  • Zackery Ward

    Pair a tablet under 10” inches with a portable bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you have the potential to be very productive.

    • Walter_Maxman

      Exactly. A built in stand, or a case with one, to use from time to time and you’re in pretty good shape. Then, in the office or at home, plug it into a larger monitor and you can handle all but the most labor intensive tasks. What’s not to love?

    • Huju

      You described a netbook that’s broken into pieces. I’d rather have single piece netbook. Yes, that also means the small keyboard and a trackpoint. I’d even take a thumb keyboard and an optical trackpad for even smaller devices. Note, I’m a UMPC fan so I’m biased.

  • Joseph

    Tablets are near useless for productivity no matter the size unless you’re an artist or some other specific niche scenario.

    • Kevin Shaw

      Ya, tablets are for consumption. You can do work on them if they’re running a desktop OS in a pinch but using them specifically for work purposes isn’t a good idea and waste of money.

      • CyberGusa

        While generally true it does depend on the type of work though… Using them as digital clip boards for like warehouse inventory, shipping, or various uses for field technicians, or for hospitals to examine MRI’s, etc., or students to take notes, etc.

        While tablets can be used with docks to turn them into hybrids or similar solutions that can then be adapted to work for other work scenarios that tablets normally wouldn’t be good to apply to.

    • dizi

      Yup, I’m hoping to get a 7″ – 8″ Windows 8 tablet mostly for consumption/playing which includes some desktop apps. Anyone getting any tablet specifically for work purposes are kidding themselves.

      I’m glad MS Office is free. I do sometimes read Office documents (non-work) and the free alternatives often have some sort of issue reading them.

    • eyeDroid

      I have to admit doing my work on a tablet is definitely awkward, tedious and slow due to the touch/stylus input issue no matter how touch optimized the OS is . A small screen is also a problem. The same can be said for non-work tasks as well.

      Having said that, I put up with these issues (most of the time) so I CAN do work for
      when I only had enough room to carry a small device. Of course, my work efficiency is definitely lowered compared to a notebook or desktop but at least it’s not zero when I would have had no capable device with me. Sometimes it is too awkward and my device reverts to a “for play” device
      where I pull up a video or surf the web and wait till I get to a notebook or desktop.

      I actually had (accidental wife damage) a Viliv N5 that has a keyboard and optical mouse. That definitely eases the input problem. I really wish there will be a philosophical successor
      to the Viliv N5 and OQO sliders. That form factor is a great work horse for certain situations.

  • inknzvl

    They should stop making a 32gb windows tablets to avoid the bad reviews that end pushing people away from W. I was just about to buy the discounted iconia w3 with office home & student but after reading that you end up with less than 5gb of free memory I rather wait to see how the new processors bay trail works. If that w3 was a 64gb I wouldn’t wait anymore. Now I might end up looking at the new iPad mini also.

    • CyberGusa

      Mind that none of the Apple iOS products support expanded storage options like microSD cards, etc. at least not without an external adapter and external card reader combo…

      So, despite the limited on board storage you can still have more options with the Windows devices and using mobile devices always has some sort of limitations involved anyway…

      Besides, there isn’t much choice at the moment without going to much higher priced models, as it’ll still be months before 64GB becomes the new normal standard for mobile devices and Bay Trail T is specifically designed to compete with ARM SoCs in mobile devices for the low cost markets.

      Meaning, it has to use the same type of LP-DDR3 RAM and eMMC drive storage as the ARM SoC tablets do!

      This helps in allowing them to reach similar low costs and similar battery life, as those parts are specifically used because they’re low cost, can fit into very small spaces, and support mobile power optimization for maximum battery life!

      The eMMC storage for example is basically composed of a single NAND chip, unlike SSDs that have multiple chips that work together for maximum performance. Thus why eMMC tend to be much slower than the latest SSDs but SSDs tend to cost a lot more, consume more power, and take up more space.

      So those are the present trade offs…

      Mind, many mobile devices are still starting off with even less storage… Like the iPad still starts off at 16GB, even though they now offer up to 128GB for the highest price version but mind that highest priced version is even higher priced than where say the Surface Pro pricing starts!

      This is partly because despite the lower costs of eMMC the mobile market still uses storage as a way to help increase profit margins and regulate device pricing.

      The Nexus 7 for example charges an additional $50 for doubling of capacity from the base version but it cost less than $10 for that increased capacity and that’s a low increase by the industry standard as Apple charges an additional $100 for every doubling of capacity.

      It’s hard enough to sell these devices at the prices they’re at now but without disrupting the system they have now for setting prices they would have to increase the pricing significantly to provide more than 32GB and still have a device they could sell for less than $400…

      Companies like Asus for example sell the models with 32GB at up to $499 for the premium models.

      However, the average being offered is increasing over time and over the next year we should see the average increase enough that they could start offering 64GB for these Windows devices as the new standard.

      For now, at least, the 32GB is the minimum requirement for Windows tablets and no one will sell them with less… Mind that the minimum for installing Windows 8 32bit is just 16GB…

      While they are trying to compensate a bit with cloud storage… the New Surface models for example will get 2 years free of 200GB Skydrive storage and a year of Skype landline and wifi calling… Along with the free MS Office Home & Student 2013 for all tablets that are 10.8″ or smaller… that last one applies to all W8/RT tablets, and each company offer similar deals for cloud storage for at least the first year.

      Also mind the microSD, with a few maybe support full SD slots, allows for more flexible on board storage, and these Windows tablets are more likely to come with a full USB port (both the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro have USB 3.0 ports for example) and there’s plenty of ways to get wireless storage or even easily set up your own VPN with Windows 8.1…

      Really, people have been dealing with bare minimum storage on primary drives for years. The first Eee PC netbooks for example had SSD capacities of 2 to 4GB… Even when they introduced Windows XP to them it only went up to 8 or 12GB until finally they switched from SSDs to HDDs.

      So just think of these devices as the modern equivalent of netbooks… they’re not very powerful but they can be useful and fun to use. While you’ll have to get creative to use them to their fullest but it’s do-able!

      Btw, there are things you can remove from a standard installation to get more than 5GB free… it’s just set up to support a large range of users but you can optimize for just yourself and make get an additional 7GB free for a little over 12GB free total… maybe a bit more depending on how much you optimize…

      Really, people have managed to get even Windows 7 to install into as small as 4GB drives… So aside from deciding whether to keep Office or not you should be able to get down pretty close to that size if you really get creative and don’t really need much but the basics to work… Or you could just run a small custom installation of GNU/Linux as Bay Trail will support that too…

      In the end it’s your choice, I only point out that a flexible device means a lot more potential choices can be made and it’s not as limiting as it may first appear…

      • inknzvl

        Good detailed/technical information about devices memory. But when you feel a company it’s lying to you, you lost faith on that company. And that is what is happening with windows 8, windows phone, windows rt OSs. Bad reviews about how little memory is free for the end user turns people away from those products (if they cannot go for the higher capacity or if they don’t know all other options they have like those you describe

      • CyberGusa

        The bad reviews were mainly exaggerations and invalid comparisons to devices running on much smaller mobile OS…

        Really, Windows hasn’t been a small installation for well over a decade and like my early netbook examples, dealing with limited space is nothing new.

        People just seem to have gotten spoiled with more basic mobile devices that never had to run a desktop OS and seem to have forgotten that mobile devices always deals with all sorts of limitations and compromises.

        MS Office alone takes up far more space than even a dozen mobile apps for example. So any expectations that there would be a lot of free space was never realistic to begin with…

        The same on any expectations on costs and actual value of the device… there are many limitations that a mobile OS device imposes as well. They don’t support even a fraction of the devices that a desktop OS supports for example.

        If you had to connect a printer directly to a Android or iOS device then you simply couldn’t do it as they don’t provide such support… It’s why they push for cloud printing to get around it. Much like a RIP station, cloud printing means just sending the file to another computer that then prints it to the printer.

        You could also never connect a Blu Ray player and play a movie on a mobile OS device… among many other limitations.

        So there’s a trade off and entirely different set of things to expect from a system that offers a desktop OS versus a strictly mobile OS.

        MS main problem is they’re not good at marketing and left a lot of things unclear that should have been made crystal clear from the beginning. The differences between RT and W8 being high on the list of things they should have made crystal clear but didn’t…

        So there are valid criticism but most of it was never intentional and had to do with confusing what they were offering with very different products…

      • Anton Gl

        I don’t think so.
        As example, Windows XP, 13-years old OS, which works with a lot of peripherial fine, and with side-loaded drivers from manufacturers – with almost of equipment.
        As another example, not so old, Linux kernel-based distros, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS – 5 GB contain OS, graphic-intensive DE (desktop environment), LibreOffice and so on.

      • CyberGusa

        What is it you don’t think so?

        XP is still a couple of GB larger than any mobile OS installation! With all its inefficiencies many considered 32GB to be the minimum for XP too!

        While it lacks things like having Office pre-installed and full recovery partition that account for more than a few GB of where the capacity for these Windows 8 devices are going!

        Even Ubuntu is still much larger than either Android or iOS installations, but doesn’t have to deal with as large a data base of drivers, etc. that tends to make Windows a much heavier installation.

        So this is just how it is…

  • peejay

    Loads of nonsense in the comments about a device this small being “useless” for productivity. An absolute, comprehensive statement like “useless” means that for EVERY person, for EVERY usage scenario, it has no use WHATSOEVER. Utter nonsense. You speak for yourself. And I’ll speak for myself – I’ve used a 5″ UMPC for productivity for years. Sometimes even having two Word windows side by side! I realise that’s not typical, but don’t say something as useless when you mean that it’s of no use to YOU.

    • Sam Curcio

      That is exactly what I said–useless to me.
      If you can type away whole drafts of documents on a 5″ machine, then more power to you. I cannot find myself squinting at small text, or putting my nose up to a little screen to view images, as a way to take in the content. And, I don’t feel like pinching to zoom or carrying a magnifying glass around all the time, either.

  • Tiago

    But now I want more than 200 DPI :(
    BTW does anyone know if it is possible to install some random linux distribution on this things, like on a PC?

    • CyberGusa

      Did you ask this somewhere else? I recall answering this before…

      Anyway, it’s not absolute yet but the general answer is yes… Since much like the early ATOM based netbooks there will be official support for running Linux on these Bay Trail devices.

      It helps that Intel is going back to their own GPU, which means it gets Intel’s Linux driver support… much of it will be directly adopted from what they had already developed for the Ivy Bridge HD4000 as it’s using the same basic architecture, just scaled down and optimized for mobile use.

      While Linux itself is adapting direct support as well, Kernel 3.11 for example has already introduced support for Bay Trail Audio for example… So a lot will just work as long as you got an up to date distro.

      They’re still working on some issues, like the Linux boot loader that works with UEFI isn’t quite 100% but they’re working those bugs out, along with support for things like Always Connected Standby that will be required to benefit the most from Bay Trail’s ability to provide improved battery life.

  • Nick

    Productivity on smaller screen is very difficult in most cases, but these tablets can be connected to an external display via HDMI. I currently do this with my laptop, which has 15″ screen I do not use, because it is useless for what I do. My use case involves lightweight software, which will run ok on such tablet, so carrying around 2.5 kilos less is only a benefit for my back.

    • Alan

      Does your tablet/notebook convert into a non-work device when not connected to a monitor?

      • Nick

        Absolutely, I don’t need separate devices for work and recreation.

  • Cipher

    The demo has perfectly shown how shitty the user experience is.
    Damn hard to hit the close-minimize-maximize buttons. Most apps are not scroll-able. I mean user must use scrollbar on a 8-inch thing!

    • CyberGusa

      With the desktop and the inaccurate capacitive touch screen, sure… but you can easily just use a external keyboard and mouse with it if you need to use the desktop for any significant length of time.

      Otherwise, just stick to the ModernUI side as that will work just fine with just the touch screen…

  • beomagi

    I feel like I’m watching someone in starbucks using their laptop… desktop animations – check… what more do you need? Wish videos like that would show more.

    I’m with the camp that likes small devices. Coming from a 5 inch Fujitsu 820 and 9 inch 1630p, Anything above 11 inches feels positively gargantuan. It’s not exactly SIZE that makes it unusable, so much as it is resolution. My 9 inch is just as usable as the craptacular 14 inch from work. My eyes are use to smaller text so it’s fine for me. What I do like for fine work -here and on my nexus 7 is a pen.

    I would LOVE an 8-10 incher or so with higher than the usual 768 or 800 line resolution, plug in keyboard, usable in tablet mode too for longer battery life.

    Hmm, Acer w520 hoping?

  • boby

    may someone tell me, will it be able to play the older windows games,as trackmania online, on this tablet? txh.

    • CyberGusa

      Yes, the GMA is based on a scaled down version of the Ivy Bridge HD4000. So should be able to play anything that a typical ULV with Intel HD GMA can handle…

      It has already been demonstrated with games like Torchlight 2 (at 1080P) and Team Fortress 2 (unknown resolution) and showed them playing with no problems.

      While Trackmania has been working on ATOM based systems since netbooks were still popular…

      Performance is still low compared to even a entry level discrete graphic card but it’s over 3x better than the previous ATOM, which is itself about 3x better than what the early netbook ATOMs could provide… So, aside from maybe driver issues that should be fixed pretty quickly (it is a new architecture after all) it should perform well enough for some light gaming.

      I’d liken it to the Nvidia ION equipped netbooks but with much better CPU performance too…

  • Albert

    Is there a place selling or taking preorders for the acer w4? No sign of it in the usual suspects (amazon.com, tigerdirect.com, etc), nor on the acer website.