Acer lconia W510 - Tablet Review

A great Windows slate that offers more than your average tablet

Acer lconia W510 - Tablet Review
The plethora of Windows laptop hybrids on the market is astonishing, and can make choosing a new machine a daunting prospect. The Acer Iconia W510 is a great 10.2-inch Windows 8 Pro tablet that slots neatly into the curent market.

Windows RT devices are affordable and make frugal use of battery power, whereas Intel Core devices running Windows 8 are more powerful, but command much higher prices. The Acer Iconia W510 sets itself apart by running an Intel Atom processor, which is designed to offer the power of a laptop, with the battery of a tablet.

Of course, being a Windows 8 Pro device, this isn't just another slab of circuitry. The Acer Iconia W510 comes with a small detachable keyboard, which clips to the bottom so it can be used as a laptop. The connection is reassuringly strong, which makes the Iconia feel as tough as any laptop out there.

Feather weight

The design follows the Acer Iconia W700 (which we reviewed last issue), and it's clad in the same solid-feeling aluminium case, which just oozes style. The build quality is superb - from the solid hinge to the smart finish - but if you're looking for a thin and light tablet that can slip into your bag, it might be wise to look at the Samsung Ativ Tab instead. The Iconia W510 weighs 580g without its keyboard, which isn't bad going, but attaching the keyboard takes it up to 900g, which is a little closer to laptop territory.

So, what do you get in that pretty package? Well, rather than the limited mobile chip you’ll find in your average tablet, you get a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom processor. It's a dual-core offering so you can multi-task, but herein lies the problem. The Atom chip is nowhere near as powerful as the Intel Core varieties you'll find on Windows Ultrabooks, and web page rendering and gaming will suffer as a result.

The screen is another major selling point of the Acer Iconia W510, and like the W700, it's a Full HD offering. Packing a resolution of 1,920 x 1080, the Acer is perfect for watching a movie or TV show.
The screen is another major selling point of the Acer Iconia W510, and like the W700, it's a Full HD offering. Packing a resolution of 1,920 x 1080, the Acer is perfect for watching a movie or TV show.

Acer lconia W510 keyboard - Tablet Review

The attractive keyboard dock is designed for anyone who wants to compose documents on the move, but there are some severe limitations. It's remarkably cramped, and because all the components are packed into the screen part of this hybrid device, it's left feeling unbalanced and top-heavy. The trackpad is a step up from many other hybrids, but there's no multi-touch support. It's also hard to master, with the mouse pointer often skipping about the screen. While it does the job adequately, the Iconia fails to replace the usability of a laptop.

A cramped experience

Windows 8's new Start screen interface is designed for high-resolution touchscreens like this, but it's a design that doesn't suit the desktop so well. The high-res display means things appear smaller, and navigating through menus and folders can be difficult. However, thanks to the Start screen, the only time you'll need to venture into the desktop view is when you want to access files on something like an external device.

The real benefit of using a low power processor is the battery life, and the issues with the Iconia's performance are offset by some fantastic longevity. Acer quotes the Iconia W510 as having 18 hours of battery life. This lofty claim is unlikely to be achieved by anyone working in real-world conditions, but you can certainly enjoy a whole day of light web surfing and have enough juice left to watch a film on your way home. We test tablets rigorously - running a HD movie until the battery fails - and we achieved a score of 310 minutes without the keyboard. To put that score in context, the Sony VAIO Duo 11 lasted just 163 minutes under the same conditions, showing that sacrificing some raw power can have huge benefits for mobile users.

Competant but pricey

What we have here is a Windows 8 tablet that's portable and versatile. However, there is a sticking point. The Acer Iconia W510 retails at £549/$750, which kills any chance of it being an easy choice over a Windows RT system. You can get Microsoft Surface RT for £399/$555 - albeit without a keyboard - and a Windows 8 Ultrabook for just a little more. At this price, the limitations become difficult to overlook.

The Iconia W510 is a well built and versatile Windows tablet. We wouldn't recommend it over a full-size laptop for tasks like serious word processing or image editing, but if you already have a reasonably powerful machine at home and you're looking for a portable companion that does more than your average tablet, then the Acer Iconia W510 could certainly fit your needs.


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Tuesday, July 02, 2013 ×

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