Monday, September 23, 2013

Acer Iconia W3-810 Windows Tablet Review

With the proliferation of gadgets, it's actually hard to identify one from the other unless you're a hardcore techie and tablets are one of them. There are tons of China made products that imitate how branded gadget looks. Cliché as it may sound; looks can be deceiving because it doesn't necessarily mean that they will perform as good even if they look similar. Acer Iconia Tab W3 might look like a generic tablet but is not. At first glance, it may also seem like a Samsung Galaxy Tab. What some don't know is that they are looking at first and smallest windows 8 tablet in the world (as of writing time). As I wrote this review in a coffee shop, I couldn't help but notice the glances thrown at the Acer Iconia W3-810.

Size, weight and feel
Although Acer did try their best to upgrade the feel of it, in the end, it's still plastic and the overall look has a budget-y feel to it. The good news is that the Acer Iconia W3 isn’t bulky nor heavy because of it. It’s smaller than the regular iPad and a bit bigger versus the iPad mini at 8.6 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches vs 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches with iPad mini being a bit smaller. Weight-wise, at 490 grams, it’s just a bit heavier than the mini with 308 grams. I’m just comparing it to the iPad mini in terms of weight and size as it is one of the more popular tablet nowadays.

Being a tablet user for years now, I didn’t feel that I need to adjust to the W3. It felt natural using it and there were no awkward buttons that’s hard to reach. The only thing I don’t like about is that it slides. I can’t get a comfortable viewing position when I’m not holding it. Either you buy the specified external keyboard for it or get a generic tablet stand to solve this issue. You might say that the iPad needs a stand as well to get a comfortable viewing position. The thing is, Windows tablets like this one are more comfortable to use with a physical keyboard and mouse. This is why traction is important even for the back of the case or the edges only so that  you can put it up against something to get a comfortable viewing position without sliding down.

Battery life
Having tested it for a couple of weeks, I never had battery problems. As per official data, it has an 8 hour battery life but according to another review, they squeezed out almost 9 ½ hours out of it. From my test I did try to use it normally similar to how I use my Windows laptop and got around 9 to 10 hours with it. That's some pretty amazing battery power right there. My test involved actual real world usage-- Typing this blog, surfing the internet with multiple windows open via Google Chrome, connected via WiFi, brightness at 30% and connected a wireless mouse and an Apple wireless keyboard to it.

I will warn you not to expect too much from it. Although I’m really happy to use this as my back up computer when going out even though I have to bring 2 other devices other than the Acer W3 itself, you can opt to just use this on its own via the on-screen keyboard and touch screen. But as I said, I prefer to use Windows even if it’s mobile with a mouse and keyboard. There are some limitations to it. One, the RAM is not enough. Opening more than 8 tabs using Google Chrome made it crash repeatedly until I have to restart it. 8 tabs are normal for me when using a computer. It might actually depend on what site you visit but I didn’t visit sites that I don’t usually go to. I usually go to blogger, eBay, Amazon, company mail, yahoo mail, Google mail, Facebook and Twitter plus occasional Google searches. Other than that, we also encountered some issues about having insufficient RAM on heavy programs such as Photoshop.

Another thing I noticed is that using the Windows 8 tiles needs getting used to. I’m a bit biased for iOS and Android OS because I’m used to those when using mobile devices. I find it hard to understand if what I clicked is already processing or if I am waiting for dead air when nothing is happening. When installing apps, it sometimes says, ‘unable to install’ and sometimes, I don’t even know if it’s my system or the internet that is wonky then later on, I’ll just see that the app I tried to install earlier is already installed which is weird. As I said, it might need a little getting used to.

HDMI port / microUSBport / Power button
3.5mm headphone jack / Charging port / Speakers
Display and Sound
Honestly speaking, the graphics are just ok. With 1,280 x 800 screen resolution, I feel that the pixel density is just fair in terms of quality and detail. You can’t have it all as having a higher resolution and more dense pixel  density screen will eat up more power. In terms of viewing angles, you’ll have a problem when you veer towards the left or the right as it looks a bit dimmer like you put a light tint on it and colors are more faded. For the speakers, although it’s a good thing it doesn’t sound "mono”, nothing to rave about it. To give you an idea, Apple iPad sounds better.

Photo Quality and Video Quality
Outdoors, it does take good enough photos but in low light, I’d rather not use it. Images come out quite pixelated so don’t expect too much on the front and rear 2mp camera. Check out the samples images and video from the Acer Iconia W3 I took below:
Outdoor shot
Semi-shaded area 
Shaded area
Indoor shot (Yellow light)
Near the window 
Indoor shot (White light)
Indoor, white light
Close up shot

Some things to take note of:
*To fully restore it to factory settings, you need an external CD/DVD drive. The restore disc is provided inside the package.
*Ports:  3.5mm headset jack, microUSB port, microHDMI output, and a microSD card slot
*To use USB peripherals, use the supplied microUSB adapter (photo just below this section).
*The Acer Iconia W3 comes with pre-installed Windows 8 (32-bit)
*Runs x86 version of Windows 8 -32bit (Can't run softwares optimized for 64-bit systems)
*Pre-installed with MS Office
*Responsiveness needs a little getting used to. It lags at times.
*I had a hard time clicking those small buttons which sometimes, you aren't sure if it’s just the system slowing down or you still haven’t clicked it.
*Limited availability of apps (Windows 8 issue) so if you're getting this for gaming, don't.
*On-screen keyboard not hard to use.

 microUSB to USB adapter
Acer Iconia W3-810 Specifications:
1.5 GHz Dual Core
RAM Included: 2GB
Storage Drive Size: 32GB or 64GB
Storage Drive Type: Flash Memory
Display Size: 8.1” capacitive touch
Display Resolution: 1280 x 800 WXGA resolution
Graphics Chip: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator
Graphics Memory: 747MB
Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
OS: Windows 8 (32bit)
Rear Camera Resolution: 2 MP
Front Camera Resolution: 2 MP
Ports: Mini-HDMI; microUSB
USB Ports: 1
Expendable memory: Yes, microSD
Max expandable memory size: 64GB
Size: 5.3 x 8.6 x .44 inches
Weight: 1.1 pounds

My full wireless setup - Acer Iconia W3 / Wireless mouse / Apple Bluetooth keyboard
The Acer Iconia W3 is the first 8inch Windows 8 tablet out in the market. It's a really interesting device if you need to have a device that runs Windows to get some work done. You don't buy this gadget for the apps, camera and the display. Other than its stellar battery life, you get the Acer Iconia W3 for the fact that it can run Windows 8 32bit and can install apps that are compatible with it including iTunes, Google Chrome and other Windows essentials PLUS, you can install drivers for your printer, scanner and other devices you wish to use with this. Taking into consideration its excellent battery life, portability and usability, it's a good buy (depending on your needs) at just Php 14,500 ($335) with a Smart plan that can either include a Pocket Wifi or a Power Plug It.

Just in keep in mind the Pros and Cons, weigh them carefully and you'll know if this device is a good buy or a goodbye for you.

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dimzDROID said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)