- Dimensions: 8.6 x 53 x 0.45 inches
- Weight: l.l lbs
- OS: Microsoft Windows 8
- CPU: l.8GHz Intel Atom
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 32GB
- Screen: 8.1 inches, 1280×800
- Great size
- Full Windows 8
- Excellent battery life
- Grainy screen
- A little on the heavy side
- If you’re looking for a very useful tablet without shelling out a lot, give this guy a spin.
Next to my smartphone, my tablet is the single most important piece of technology in my gadget arsenal. It doesn’t really do anything my smartphone can’t, but the large screen, larger battery and its own LTE connection make it so much more convenient. Coupled with a keyboard, it makes for an unstoppable content production machine. My only real complaint is that my particular tablet runs a mobile OS. Sometimes, you just need the whole desktop experience and all the power that ecosystem brings in order to accomplish tasks. The Acer lconia W3 is the answer to this problem. The 8.1-inch slate runs the full Windows 8 experience.
The W3 is, in a word, handy. The overall footprint of the W3 is about the size of a large paperback, though it’s a little heavier, tipping the scales about over a pound. It’s not small enough to fit in a pants pocket, so if you want to carry it around, you might want to have a bag handy. While it’s light enough for me to carry around in my hand all day, the extra weight for the hardware required for Windows 8 might make it a little inconvenient for some.
The back is a textured, matte plastic that looks convincingly like stainless steel. The sides of this particular unit had a white trim, and the screen is surrounded by a healthy bezel. Controls are sparse, as is expected from a current-gen tablet. You have a power button on one edge, the volume buttons on the other, and the Windows button on the front. There is also a microSD slot, a microUSB slot, into which goes the included OTG cable, beside which is a mini-HDMI port. The earphone jack and speaker grilles round off the bottom edge, along with the power plug.
Navigation is mainly achieved via touch, which is exactly what Windows 8 is designed for. Moving through menus, the start menu and folders is smooth and zippy. The W3 runs a 1.8GHz Atom processor paired with 2GB of RAM. It won’t break any land speed records, but it handles the Windows 8 Ul just fine. At no point did it struggle with the operating system, so I wasn’t left wanting for more RAM or a little more processing power. It’s not really meant to muscle through apps and programs, but it does the job just fine.
Multitasking was likewise simple for the W3. Multiple browser windows, a word document and some music proved no challenge for the device. Basically any task you would do on a regular day, away from your main desktop, should be okay on the device. Your text input will be limited to tapping on the screen’s virtual keyboard, so a separate wired (via the OTG cable) or Bluetooth keyboard would be a great addition to really make the Iconia W3 shine.
The screen is plenty bright for all your needs. Direct sunlight poses a little problem and causes some glare, but it is more than usable. It is, however, a little wanting in the sharpness department. The screen is grainy and has a rather narrow viewing angle. Skew your eyes a little off center, and the colors start to get a little odd. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, and there are far worse screens out there, but if you are very picky about image quality, this might be something to consider.
The inclusion of the Atom processor helps with the device’s battery life. The low power draw by the efficient chip let the device run a whole day at work, that’s just over eight hours, with no problem. This was with a constant connection to the Internet, brightness at about half, and even connecting to a Bluetooth keyboard every so often for a quick document or two. Even if you did need to carry around the power brick, it’s a reasonably small device that plugs straight into the wall outlet. If eight hours plus of battery life isn’t enough for you, the adapter is small enough to toss in a bag or backpack and forget. The roughly 30GB internal storage might be a little lacking, but more storage can be had via a microSD card, if you need it.
Being the first eight-incher built for Windows 8, the W3 has a unique position in the market. The OS works well on the device, making for a very handy, versatile tool, though it’s not without its shortcomings. The screen, while it has a high enough resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, is a little grainy for my taste, and the narrow viewing angles might be a problem for sharing the screen or getting a comfortable position that is anything far removed from looking at it head-on. Still, it’s a handy device that offers you great battery life, a powerful OS and a convenient size, particularly given a price point below PHP 20,000. If you need a tablet to keep you company all day, no matter where you find yourself, the Acer Iconia W3 isn’t a bad bet.
First published in Gadgets Magazine, October 2013
Words by Ren Alcantara