Acer’s Iconia W3 is set to be the first Windows 8 tablet with an 8 inch display to hit the streets. The little tablet has a list price of $380, but it’s already available for pre-order from Office Depot for as little as $350.

For that price you get a tablet with an Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and the full Windows 8 operating system, rather than the stripped-down Windows RT software running on some tablets in this price range.

The Iconia W3 also ships with Office 2013 Home & Student preloaded, which makes it seem like even more of a bargain.

Unfortunately Acer had to cut a few corners in order to keep the price low.

Acer Iconia W3

I got a chance to spend a little time with an Iconia W3 table this week, and the good news is that it’s light-weight, easy to hold in one hand, and it really can run just about any Windows app, although most won’t run as quickly as they would on a device with a faster processor.

The bad  news is that the tablet has a TN display with limited viewing angles, and feels kind of sluggish compared to other Clover Trail tablets I’ve used.

Over the past few years, Apple’s smartphones and tablets popularized the use of IPS displays with wide viewing angles in mobile devices. That means you can hold an iPhone or iPad from pretty much any angle, and the screen still looks great.

That’s not a detail that matters much on a laptop or desktop display, since odds are that you won’t be looking at the screen from too far above or from the left or right sides. But phones and tablets are devices that you may use while placed down on a table or countertop, or at any number of angles while holding the device in your hands. So viewing angles matter.

Unfortunately if you hold the Iconia W3 the wrong way, you’ll start to feel like you’re looking at a photo negative or a blank screen instead of a tablet.

w3_colors

As for the performance, while swiping through the Windows 8 Start Screen and switching apps I noticed the graphics seemed a bit jumpy. That’s not the case on other recent Windows 8 tablets with similar hardware (but larger screens) such as the Lenovo Miix 10 or Samsung ATIV Tab 3. So I’m hoping there was just a problem with the demo unit.

It’s also possible the software on the tablet needs to be tweaked a bit before launch.

All told, the Iconia W3 still looks like an interesting device for $350 for folks that want a mobile device to use not only for surfing the web, watching movies, and playing games, but also for using Microsoft Office. Just don’t expect any miracles from what’s essentially a budget device.

Acer also offers an optional Bluetooth keyboard for $80.

The Iconia W3 has an 8.1 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, a 3500mAh battery which should last for up to 8 hours of run time, a micro HDMI port, micro USB port, speakers, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a headset jack.

It measures 8.6″ x 5.3″ x 0.45″ and weighs about 1.2 pounds.

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18 replies on “Hands-on with Acer’s Iconia W3 8-inch Windows 8 tablet (video)”

  1. Will Baytrail Socs for tablets support 64 bit?. ie will they be able to run 64 bit Windows. I know the Silvermont core can support 64 bit, but Intel have disabled this feature in the past for Tablet/phone Socs

    1. We won’t know for sure until they release them and someone tries…

      What we do know is Intel doesn’t plan to install more than 4GB of RAM for tablets… This may have to do with Bay Trail-T still using the same RAM and eMMC storage as ARM devices do and the fact Intel doesn’t have to worry about ARM pushing 64bit until the second half of 2014 at the earliest.

      However, the memory bus is still indicated as 64bit and unless they disable the function in the FW then it should be possible to run 64bit OS and fully utilize the up to 4GB of RAM.

      Intel just won’t be pushing it and suggest most Bay Trail-T’s will be running either Android and/or Windows 8.1/Pro 32bit… but it’s probably up to OEMs and what support they want to provide.

      While Bay Trail-M and D definitely support 64bit and they may find their way into tablets as well… for the Semi-Pro Tablet range, Bay Trail-M will definitely find its way into Hybrids in any case and will support up to 8GB of RAM…

      But only the Bay Trail-T is likely to get into the 7″ to 8″ size tablets… While we’ll have to wait for Merrifield to come out next year for phones and phablets…

  2. “8.6 x 5.3 x .45”

    That struck me as odd, given it is about the same width as an IPAD mini, but for an 8.1 inch tablet as opposed to 7.9 for the mini. But its aspect ratio of 16:10 allows for a narrower tablet.

    1. 8″ to 10″ sizes of any aspect ratio are uninteresting to me as they don’t seem particularly well suited to any usage scenario I might have. 11.6″ are more interesting.

      1. This runs real Windows, not RT. Comparisons to any iDevice are inappropriate. Even at 10″ though you’ll get frustrated fast with the limitations of finger/capacitive touch as soon as you leave Metroville to do real work. Without a second digitizer supporting a higher-res stylus you’ll run back to your notebook PC quickly or think of this as a clunky notebook that can sort of be used as a tablet.

        This is probably the entire reason for Metro (“modern”) UI in the first place: Windows as we knew it doesn’t really work in a tablet form factor.

        1. Right, but it never was designed to work in “Tablet” or “Fisher Price” mode. This mode is for drunk people with no hand eye coordination. lol. j/k. But seriously the mouse and keyboard is where it’s at for finite control of a GUI. IMHO.

          Android and iOS dpi seriously is like a Fisher Price mode. What if I want smaller controls on my screen? What if I don’t want my buttons taking up 30% of the screen real estate just because it’s catering to fat fingers…?
          Just sayin.

          1. The 8.1 update starts to set up the Modern UI for doing real work… Improved mouse and keyboard controls…

            Ability to now snap up to four apps, or multiple views of one like the different tabs of a browser, at the same time and that counts per screen if you use multiple monitors…

            Support for smaller screens and greater range of tile sizes also means you can adjust the UI to fit your preferences more and not be locked to the default for the screen size/resolution…

            OEMs just need to start designing in some better control options like how UMPC’s had optical mouse built into the bezel, etc. and not rely on the inaccurate capacitive touch screen…

            Active digitizer pens are useful for compensating for small screens and inaccurate touch screens but they’re costly and make it harder to make these devices more affordable but something like a optical mouse should be easy and cheap to include…

            While 8.1 also starts improving how desktop is handled on tablets… Along with other new options like motion control instead of just touch, among other changes coming out…

            So, we’ll see how it develops but it’s starting to get interesting…

  3. Nice first cut on sub-10″ Windows tablets. I hope later ones will have a mouse in the bezel for easier desktop use. Heck, I even find that a mouse makes some things easier on Android devices as well.

    If 7″-8″ devices do come out with a mouse in the bezel, I hope they’re Intel Bay Trail tablets so I can eventually run a Linux distro on it. I’ll also be able to run Windows in a virtual machine since Bay Trail has hardware virtualization acceleration. The up to 4 cores and 8 GB of RAM will help with this also.

    1. Also, I hope all these Atom tablets of all sizes will charge through micro-USB at at least 7.5 W per the USB Battery Charging spec. Hopefully, higher when using higher watt chargers (ie. beyond the spec or through the USB Power Delivery spec.). Of course, it should detect how much current the charging source can provide and adjust the draw accordingly (ie. current negotiation when connected to a PC and current sensing when connected to dedicated charges).

    2. Well, the up to 8GB of RAM will mainly only be offered for the non-tablet range Bay Trail…

      Bay Trail-T will likely not offer more than 4GB but will operate at ≤ 3W TDP…

      Bay Trail-M (The one that will be sold under Celeron Branding) will offer up to 8GB, partly because it will offer support for DDR3L-1066 RAM modules that you can upgrade instead of integrated LP-DDR3-1066 RAM.

      Also, Bay Trail-M will add support for SATA 2 drives and so won’t be limited to eMMC storage, but TDP will go up to ≤ 4W to a max of 6.5W…

      While Bay Trail-D will be for the desktop/server market, probably be branded as a Pentium, and will scale up to eight cores, but will scale TDP up to ≤ 12W…

    3. I agree on the mouse and micro-USB charging.

      I definitely would like the virtualization support of Bay Trail. The extra cores will bree great for that too.

  4. You end up with a lot of disposable hardware quickly though. Acer has produced x86 tablets for a few years now, obsoleting them each year. None work with prior models’ keyboards so you buy that again too. Or you can go with other makes, same problem. Or go with a straight tablet then add USB or BlueTooth keyboards and mice. And don’t forget chargers/power supplies that can’t interchange. Junk still adds up, becomes obsolete. Landfills get fuller, pockets get emptier.

    1. Do the past Acer x86 tablets become obsolete differently than any other x86 device?

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