Acer Iconia W700
During the rise of the iPad and Android tablet devices,
there were a trickle of Windows-based slabs, but since the
October release of the more touch-friendly Windows 8 operating
system, it's turned into a flood.
Aside from Microsoft's own tablets, Surface RT and Surface
Pro - the first PCs the company has ever made on its own -
it's interesting to see how companies like Dell, Lenovo and
HP interpret Windows 8 in deciding what makes a tablet, what
makes a laptop and what kinds of devices can straddle those
Acer, for instance, introduced two Windows 8 tablets. The
lower-end model is the W510, which sells for about the price
of an iPad (about $US550-$US750). According to reviews, it's
not very powerful.
On the other hand, the model I test-drove, the Acer Iconia
W700, is a beast. It runs on a powerful Intel Core i5
processor, has a gorgeous high-resolution screen and includes
enough accessories to make it a laptop in everything but its
The $US1000 tablet comes with a small Bluetooth wireless
keyboard (which doesn't clip on to the tablet the way
keyboards for the Surface tablet do), a bulky faux leather
protective case, an ugly but effective beige docking cradle/
stand and even an adapter to connect the device to an
external monitor or projector.
The bright, gigantic (for a tablet) 11.6-inch screen is very
responsive, and the tablet runs not only touch-friendly apps
designed for Windows 8 but pretty much any older Windows
software you'd care to throw at it, even graphics-intensive
games. It has HD cameras on the front and back as well as
physical volume buttons and a USB 3.0 port.
If it were just a laptop, it would be a bit on the pricey
side, but not a bad purchase at all.
As a tablet, however ... it's problematic. It's thick and
weighs more than two pounds, which doesn't seem like much
until you compare it with Apple or Android-based tablets that
weigh a fraction of that.
If you drop it on your foot, expect a bone to break.
The dock and case only add more bulk and weight. You'll feel
like you're carrying around a phone book.
And there's no nice way to carry everything together. The
case, keyboard and stand don't fit together at all; a laptop
bag would be necessary, or an owner would need to choose what
to leave behind while taking the tablet out of the house.
The W700 feels like buying a sports car to drive around town
and then hitching a trailer to it because you frequently have
to haul around lumber. Sure, you could do that, but pretty
soon you'll realize that it's perhaps not the most elegant
way to get things done.
Which brings us to the question: Who is this for?
If it's going to stay on your desk, why not just get a
comparable (and likely cheaper) laptop? If you need a tablet
because you travel a lot, there are sleeker, lighter options.
And for the price of this device, you could buy a mid-range
Windows 8 laptop and an iPad or iPad Mini and still be
carrying fewer items than what goes with the W700.
On the other hand, it has excellent battery life (more than
six hours, which isn't great for a tablet but excellent for a
laptop) and is fast, capable and responsive.
It's a good first Windows 8 effort from Acer and I hope a
sign of even better things to come.
- By Omar L. Gallaga, Austin American-Staesman