Windows 8 tablets are still finding their footing in the pantheon of consumer devices, with various form factors and device-types being tested along the way. The Acer Iconia W510 tablet-laptop hybrid is a throwback to the days of the netbook in both design and purpose.
It's small enough to be considered ultraportable, while full-fledged features like access to desktop apps for Windows and a USB port makes it computer adapted for people working on the go.
Running Windows 8 – and not its little brother Windows RT – the Iconia is able to run full Windows 7 apps, as well as newer Windows 8-specific apps designed for the Metro interface (or whatever it's called now).
The tablet part of the Iconia weighs around 600 grams and is similar in size to the iPad. Its 10.1-inch display has a resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels, with bright colours and very little aliasing of font.
There are several versions of the Iconia available, including a 3G one. The Iconia I tested is wifi only with 64 GB of space, but this is a misleading stat as only around 30 GB is available out of the box. The user can reclaim another 15 GB or so by creating a recovery disk on a USB stick, but this is a big ask from the average user. There's a microSD card slot, so you're not limited to the internal memory card.
The defining feature of the Iconia is a detachable keyboard (sold separately), familiar to anyone who's used an Asus Transformer before. The keyboard has well-spaced keys perfect for long bursts of typing.
The dock has its own battery which effectively doubles the battery life of the combined device. With moderate use (mostly typing, light app use, watching YouTube videos and browsing the web) the tablet lasts around seven hours. Attach the keyboard and this is easily pushed to just over 13 hours. The incredible battery life is what impressed me the most about the Iconia, it gives me enough of a tether to feel comfortable taking it out without constantly keeping an eye out for open power outlets.
Acer had to make concessions somewhere to achieve the battery life and it's taken that cut out of the processing power. The 1.5 GHz Atom processor and 2 GB of RAM works well with word processing and web browsing, but throw an image editor into the mix and everything becomes unbearably slow.
Verdict: I would buy the Acer Iconia W510 as a secondary work computer. Portability is the most important factor in a laptop for me. I can get through tasks that need more power on my home computer, the laptop is for word processing and browsing the web while out and about.
The Iconia's fantastic battery life, keyboard, and access to Windows desktop apps and Microsoft enterprise software – makes it incredibly handy for me . Even more so because I work in a Microsoft Office environment. However, the Iconia definitely isn't the right option for people needing grunty laptops for processor-intensive apps.
The cheapest price I could find using Price Spy is around $950 for the tablet and another $300 for the keyboard package, but I wouldn't buy the tablet on its own.
Disclosure: Acer is an Idealog supporter. This was not taken into consideration during the review.
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