Billed as "the world's first 8-inch Windows tablet," the Acer Iconia W3 is proof that getting there first isn't always the most important achievement.
The W3 puts size and portability ahead of most everything else -- but not always to its advantage. For instance, its display resolution (1,280 by 800) is smaller than the recommended resolution for the OS (1,280 by 960). Consequently, some apps open windows that disappear off the bottom of the display. I was able to work around such issues by switching to portrait mode while running these apps, but it was jarring, to say the least.
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In fact, there's a lot to indicate that the W3 was designed to be used mainly in portrait mode. The speakers are on the right-hand short edge, along with the Windows logo button, and the front-facing camera is on the short edge opposite that. Acer didn't skimp on external connectivity, at least; Micro HDMI, Micro USB, and MicroSD connectors are all included.
The keyboard designed to go with the W3 is, to put it diplomatically, terrible. First of all, the W3 doesn't really dock with the keyboard -- it just sits in a groove along the top, where it can be easily dislodged with one good jostle. Forget about using the keyboard on the go, a problem I also had with the Acer Iconia W700.
Actually, the W3 can be neatly packaged up for travel by fitting it in a depression on the back of the keyboard, but Acer didn't put as much thought into actually using the keyboard while you're on the move. Typing on the keyboard is unpleasant: It flexes noticeably, the keys are prone to rattling, and the throw is short, with little tactile feedback.
At least I can't complain about the battery life. My Netflix rundown test pumped a good 8 hours, 30 minutes out of the W3, thanks to the dual-core Atom Z2760 on board. But don't plan on running more than a few apps at a time, as the system sports a mere 2GB of RAM and a barely usable 32GB of internal storage. (My unit shipped with a 64GB drive, but only had 32GB of usable space.)
It's nothing short of remarkable that a full-blown Windows 8 machine has been packed into a system as small and light as the Iconia W3. But the problems and shortcomings that are also part of this package make the W3 a curiosity at best. Try again, Acer.
This article, "Review: Acer Iconia W3-810 is too little, too lame," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in computer hardware and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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