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Acer Iconia W3 review

Acer Iconia W3

Acer has launched the Iconia W3, an 8in tablet running the full version of Windows 8 - it's the Atom-powered slate that rejects Windows RT in favour of the real thing

Acer has officially launched the first 8in Windows 8 tablet, the Iconia W8, at its Computex press conference here in Taipei. We were lucky enough to get an early look at the device, so we could bring you our hands-on impressions as soon as Acer gave us the nod.

First things first – at the time of writing (as who knows what else could get announced at Computex this week) the Iconia W3 is the first device to cram the full version of Windows 8 into an 8in tablet. Acer has beaten Microsoft itself to the punch, if rumours of a 7in Surface tablet are to be believed, so right now it’s the only way to get Windows 8 into such a small device. You’ll even get a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013, which Acer is throwing in for free with every tablet.

Acer Iconia W3
Yep – that’s full Windows 8 running on a tablet barely larger than a Nexus 7


The screen is actually 8.1in diagonally, with a 1,280×800 display resolution. It looked distinctly average during our brief time with the unit, but considering its budget roots this should hardly come as a surprise – any more pixels and the components inside it simply wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Although it’s made from a combination of different plastics designed to match Acer’s existing Iconia tablet range, the Iconia W3 avoids feeling cheap – the rear is finished with a brushed metal effect, the front bezel is black and the surrounding frame is matt white.

Acer Iconia W3
It’s comfortable enough to hold in one hand – not too heavy, with enough bezel to grip

There’s a camera on the back of the tablet, which should be able to take reasonable snaps, along with a front-facing webcam for Skype video chat. The volume controls are at the sides and the power button at the top, putting them in easy reach whether you plan on using the W3 portrait or landscape mode. A pair of stereo speakers on the bottom of the tablet bookend the 3.5mm audio jack and proprietary power connector, and you’ll also find a micro HDMI output for connecting the tablet to a TV or external display.

Acer Iconia W3
USB and HDMI ports are useful inclusions on any device, but especially on an 8in one

The Iconia W3 we were shown was powered by a Clovertrail Intel Atom Z2760 processor running at 1.8GHz, paired with 2GB of RAM. It certainly isn’t going to break benchmark records, and you won’t want to try loading more than a couple of applications at once, but the device still felt reasonably snappy when flicking through the Windows 8 start screen and loading Internet Explorer. You shouldn’t have to worry about running out of battery on the move either, as Acer says it will last eight hours on a full charge.

The 32GB or 64GB of internal storage (depending on the model) doesn’t sound like a lot, particularly as Windows takes up a sizeable portion out of the box, but there’s a MicroSD card slot that will support an additional 64GB.

Acer Iconia W3
Like any good tablet, the Iconia W3 auto-rotates depending on how you hold it


Naturally, the full version of Windows 8 isn’t particularly suited to a touch screen – once you get past the flashy Start Screen, the icons are tiny and entering text can be laborious. That’s why Acer will be selling an optional keyboard, to let you keep working when on the move.

Acer Iconia W3 dock

The keyboard ‘dock’ is a Bluetooth device with a rubber grip that holds the tablet fairly tightly in either portrait or landscape mode – the latter provides far more vertical resolution for reading and typing in documents. As its Bluetooth you don’t have to dock the tablet to use the keyboard, for example if you’ve got it plugged into a larger display.

It’s as wide as a 13in laptop keyboard, so the keys are well spaced, and feedback and travel was reasonable too, akin to that on slender laptop keyboards.

Acer Iconia W3 dock

The clever part is that the tablet can be clipped, screen face down, into a slot on the back of the keyboard. This keeps the display safe and makes the pair into a single, easy to handle unit. It’s a great design and it adds a lot to the W3.

Acer Iconia W3 dock
Acer Iconia W3 dock
Acer Iconia W3 dock
Dock the tablet to the bottom of the keyboard for easy and safe transport


The Iconia W3 is an intriguing proposition – having the full version of Windows in a device that (almost) slips in a pocket could radically change how business commuters go about their morning routines, or it could end up being held back by the meagre Atom processor. We’ll have to wait until we get one into our labs for review to find out, but right now it’s a real budget alternative to Microsoft’s expensive Surface RT. Acer expects it to go on sale in the UK around August, so we’ll have to wait to see if the demand is there for a pocket-sized Windows machine.

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