Acer Iconia W510 review
We’ve been less than enamoured with the recent flurry of Windows RT tablets, but, for less than £500, the Iconia W510 looks to have it all. This 10.1in tablet transforms into a laptop, and, thanks to its Intel Atom processor, has one particularly welcome trick up its sleeve – it runs full Windows 8.
At first glance, you’d have trouble telling it apart from its Windows RT rivals. Acer has squeezed Intel’s Atom into a tablet weighing 566g and measuring a whisker under 9mm thick. And, unlike the Windows RT models, Acer includes a matching docking keyboard as standard. Due to its internal battery, this adds another 686g to the weight. With the Iconia W510 snapped shut in clamshell mode, it measures 23mm thick – about the same as a netbook. Throw the tablet, the docking keyboard and the wall-wart PSU in a bag and the whole package comes in at 1.39kg.
It’s no style icon, though. The white and silver chassis both looks and feels plasticky and has the underwhelming air of a mid-range Android tablet. Granted, it’s well-made, but there is a little flex if you treat it roughly, and the matte plastic body quickly picks up scuffs and scratches. The docking keyboard is also underwhelming: it’s plasticky and creaks audibly if you flex it from side to side.
Functionally, though, it works reasonably well. The tablet slots into the keyboard dock with a muffled thunk, and, although it wobbles back and forth slightly in its moorings, the dock held the tablet securely throughout our testing. In laptop mode, the pairing feels top-heavy: this isn’t a problem on a desk, but on a lap it’s prone to toppling backwards.
Neatly, the hinge folds through 290 degrees, allowing the keyboard base to act as a stand: with the keyboard facing down, it’s possible to use the Acer’s touchscreen while sitting at a desk or using a fold-out table on a train. There’s no problem with accidental key presses, either: fold the keyboard past the 180 degree mark and it is automatically disabled.
Whether in tablet or laptop mode, we’ve few complaints about the Iconia W510. The touchscreen responds reliably to edge-swipes and gestures, and, while the keyboard’s shrunken Right Shift key took a little getting used to, the crisp bounce to the keys and Scrabble-tile layout make it comfortable for long periods of typing. The buttonless touchpad, however, is well below par. It’s either too sensitive or not sensitive enough, and no amount of fiddling with the settings allowed us to get it just so. It’s also far too easy to brush accidentally while typing. Thankfully, there’s a keyboard shortcut to disable it completely.
Thanks to the presence of Intel’s latest Atom technology, Cloverview, the Acer runs a 32-bit installation of full Windows 8. There’s a dual-core 1.8Ghz Atom Z2760 processor accompanied by 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of solid-state storage. Internet Explorer 10 is fluid and responsive, and pages respond instantly to every pinch and flick. Even web-based HD video now plays smoothly, something that was beyond the means of the previous generation of Atom devices; compared with Windows RT devices, it’s blazingly quick, whipping through the SunSpider browser benchmark in 716ms.