TAIPEI, TAIWAN– Seeking to combine the desktop and mobile experience, Acer has introduced the world’s first 8-inch tablet running Windows 8. Complete with Microsoft Office and an optional full-sized keyboard, Acer touts its Iconia W3 slate as an optimal device for work on the go.
We went hands on with the Iconia W3-810 at this year’s Computex to see how the Windows 8 experience translates to a device this size. The W3’s 8.1-inch 1280 x 800 display was sharp and responded quickly to our touches, though we noticed that it only captured 5-fingers of input at once when tried drawing with both hands in Windows Paint . The full version of Windows 8 fit nicely on the slate’s smaller screen and icons such as the Charms menu buttons looked particularly sharp at their smaller sizes.
The screen itself was not particularly colorful as images looked a little bit dull on the demo model. The plasticky chassis and hardware Windows button gave the tablet a the feel of a solid, but value-oriented device. Acer promises that its Iconia W3 will last for up to eight hours on a single charge, which is key for users looking to work on the go.
Perhaps the most important, but understated feature of the Iconia W3 is its included version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013. On the device we used, we saw icons for Word, PowerPoint, Excel and One Note, all must-have productivity apps that otherwise cost well over $100. We found that Microsoft Word looked just as it does on a PC desktop, complete with the menus and toolbars we’re familiar with, but it did take longer to load than we would have liked.
The keyboard dock provides full size keys, but not a ton of tactile feedback. Since it connects via Bluetooth and it wasn’t paired with the sample W3 tablet on display, we were not able to get a true sense of its capabilities. When flipping over the keyboard, we found that there’s an indent on its underside made specifically to hold the tablet, making it easy to carry both items on the go.
The Iconia W3 is powered by Intel’s Atom Z270 processor and comes with 2-megapixel front and rear-facing speakers. Starting at $379, the 8-inch Windows 8 slate will be available for presale beginning June 4 via retailers such as Amazon, Office Depot, Microsoft Retailers, MicrosoftStore.com, OfficeMax, Staples and Walmart. We could easily see the Acer Iconia W3 as a contender in the smaller-sized tablet space. With a full PC operating system and Microsoft Office preloaded for free, Acer ‘s slate could give Apple’s iPad Mini and Google’s Nexus 7 some stiff competition.