Acer Iconia W700 review
We've had to wait patiently, but Acer’s Iconia W700 is the first Windows 8 tablet to grace PC Pro's labs. The real surprise is the price: for just £593, the Iconia W700 packs in an 11.6in Full HD touchscreen, a Core i3 processor and somehow finds room in the budget for a case, a docking station and a Bluetooth keyboard.
At 934g and 10mm thick, it doesn’t rival Windows RT models for slenderness or light weight, but the Iconia W700 still looks the part. Light-coloured metal spreads across the back and surrounds the tablet’s circumference, folding over at the bottom edge where the engraved Acer logo and the Windows button have been placed. Build quality is impressively stout, too, with no flex in the metal chassis.
The Full HD 11.6in touchscreen comes as a surprise at this price. Despite a highly reflective layer of Gorilla Glass, the gleaming 422cd/m2 maximum brightness keeps it legible even outdoors. Colours are bold and pretty accurate, with natural skin tones and rich, saturated primary tones. The only mild disappointment is the contrast ratio: at 418:1, darker scenes aren’t as punchy and detailed as on the best models we’ve seen.
The Iconia treads a different path to its hybrid and docking tablet rivals. In the box is a separate Bluetooth desktop keyboard powered by four AAA batteries, a fake-leather folio case and a light, plasticky-feeling docking stand.
The folio case isn’t particularly stylish, but the lip around its edge offers some drop protection, and the ability to prop the tablet at one of two angles is useful. The dock is less appealing. It feels cheap and lightweight, with a plastic kickstand that slots into two positions at the rear to support the tablet in either portrait or landscape orientation. The plastic kickstand is also non-adjustable, holding the tablet at a set, rather steep angle.
Acer has hit this low price by opting for an older Sandy Bridge processor. The Core i3-2365M runs at 1.4GHz, and achieved a slow 0.41 in our Real World Benchmarks. The Toshiba SSD does its bit to keep things feeling spritely, but video encoding and multitasking quickly reveal the CPU’s limits, and the 64GB drive will fill up before you know it.
Even with such a low-powered CPU at the helm, the Iconia’s battery life isn’t stunning: 5hrs 53mins in our light-use battery test is acceptable, but that's with the display set to a calibrated brightness of just 75cd/m2. Push the screen brightness nearer to its rated 422cd/m2 maximum and you'll find yourself dashing back to the mains in no time at all.
Connectivity is fairly limited. There’s a single USB 3 port and a micro-HDMI port along the tablet’s left-hand edge, and a 3.5mm headset jack on the opposite side. Slot the Iconia into the dock and that improves, with three USB 3 ports at its rear. The front 0.9-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear-facing cameras are a boon, but output from both is grainy, with ugly compression artefacts smearing detail in our test shots.
Acer’s Iconia W700 is a reasonable attempt at a consumer Windows 8 tablet, and it’s keenly priced. It has serious weaknesses, however. On the move, the lack of a docking keyboard makes it far less usable than many rival tablets or hybrid devices, and the absence of active stylus support hinders its appeal as a dedicated tablet. Factor in the modest performance and, although the price may be right, this tablet doesn’t quite make the grade.