back to article Acer Iconia W3: The first 8-inch Windows 8 Pro tablet

Microsoft has been hinting at smaller tablets running full Windows 8 for months, and with the arrival of the Iconia W3, an 8.1-inch Windows 8 fondleslab from Acer, we finally have a taste of what those look like. Unfortunately, the result is a mixed bag. Acer Iconia W3 tablet running Windows 8 The tiny Acer Iconia W3, shown …


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  1. LarsG

    Throw as many designs and sizes against a wall and one might stick. Seems to be a policy of design first and see if anyone wants one then keep bringing out stuff in the hope that they will sell.

    I just wonder what the longevity of these other designs are, especially as the iPad has been relatively unchanged since day one and still sells.

    1. fandom

      That's a bit harsh, here Acer is doing what Apple did: release a small tablet after seeing the Android smaller tablets were selling well.

  2. Wang N Staines

    Got an ARM based Samsung Chromebook on sale last month for £129, installed Linux on it. What a brilliant little machine. If Acer/MS want to compete they may have to up the specs or lower the price.

    The screen on this Acer not too impressive at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erm, that's not a tablet though is it.

      1. Chris Reynolds

        That's not the point

        Not everyone looks at form factor first. There are those that are after portability and function above whether the device is a tablet or clamshell. I would consider the Chromebook to be a natural competitor to this device for many people.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Sil


    My guess would be that memory more than processor is the performance bottleneck for tasks such as web browsing, it would be interesting to check.

    One can see things the other way too as a $380 device won't be your main productivity device. e.g. it is an adequate tablet with the added bonus of enabling you to sometimes read / edit office documents on the go but are not designed to be your main computer where you'll do the heavy lifting. I think it is reasonable assumption. Annotate, comment, correct minor mistakes on the train/airplane, do more heavy work with main laptop. Clearly this was never designed as a replacement for a surface pro or an Ultrabook.

    The bad quality screen, an unfortunate hallmark of many PC makers, is a big turnoff though.

    1. fzz

      Re: Memory?

      Picky: Office Home & Student is noncommercial. Not a problem if you have a work machine with Office under volume licensing, but otherwise not OK to do work with H&S.

      If Office on small tablets were only for light tweaking, I suppose 8" tablets would be better than 4" phones, but I wonder whether Android and iOS productivity software would handle light editing about as well. If Android software could, hard to see much of an advantage for small Windows tablets.

  5. Mevi

    it's a shame

    I've been using W8 on my 2nd hand i7 EliteBook lappy since launch and been very happy with it, so when it came time to retire my jailbroken ipad 1, I've been considering a x86 tablet as I do prefer being free with my app choices, browser privacy extensions and functionality.... and being able to PRINT.

    I have read many reviews of this tablet and they all state very similar drawbacks.

    I went down my local PCWorld for a W8 tablet hands-on and tried out a £429 10" Asus VivoTab (the only x86 on display), which felt quite nice and had a decent screen. Same Atom processor, performance seemed adequate for light use. On a 10" screen, desktop mode was horribly fiddly and the on screen keyboard must be manually launched from the tray.... then takes up half the screen. TIFKAM and IE10 were quite nice to use.

    I would probably end up carrying my little bluetooth keyboard/trackpad everywhere with it.... and the PSU. Hey, I have a decent laptop, so for now I will pass. I'll give it 6 months and look again.

    1. dogged

      Re: it's a shame

      I wish I knew why, but since developing a couple of Win8 Store Apps for work - demonstration stuff made under orders, basically - I find myself more and more tempted by the notion of a WinRT tablet.

      It's a challenge, I suppose. Take the hobbled device, make it do everything I need.

      I wouldn't buy this thing, though. The combination of Acer's crappy build quality and a last-gen x86 chip rings up a large "NO SALE" sign.

    2. mmeier

      Re: it's a shame

      If you go 10+ inch on an Atom consider a tablet pc instead of a tablet. The inductive stylus on units like

      VEB Plaste und Elaste Ativ 500 (11.6 inch actually)

      Dell Latitude 10

      Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2

      really makes a huge difference in usability. Never understood why Acer went "cheap" on their hardware and used touch only.

      1. 1Rafayal

        Re: it's a shame

        WinRT = no

        Full Fat Windows 8 = yes.

        I havent been able to find the point in WinRT devices yet, they come with the same price tag as a lot of full Win 8 tablets but none of the features.

        I think the only reason I would get a WinRT tablet is due to a firesale.

        I have the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 and can say that it is a very good device, in my opinion. The stylus that came with it is very good indeed.

        1. dogged

          Re: it's a shame

          I agree about the prices. A decent RT tablet should be about 7.5 - 8" and cost £150.

  6. Khaptain Silver badge

    Too late to market

    MS are coming into a very, very mature market with mediocre products and nothing new to offer.

    It means yet another ecosystem for the end user. ( More accounts to create, yet another payment method to hand over etc etc) .

    I can't see what MS have to offer that is better than what the existing market already has. Why would anyone be enticed to move over, there is no pride about owning a tablet or having the latest OS, that just doesn't cut mustard anymore..

    The tablet Fad has come and is just about ready to board the "end of life train". Have a look on the train/bus in the morning and what do you see. One or two people with uncomfortable sized tablets. Everyone else is punching heartly away on the pocket sized smartphones.....

    I think the market will remain in the 4,5,6 inch smartphone size. They fit in the pocket/handbag and are very capable devices. They are actualy useable...

    It would be nice if someone would invent a folding smartphone that was ergonomique and seemless. ( Whatevwer happened to the bendy ones


    1. mmeier

      Re: Too late to market

      Actually MS comes with a very, very mature product (Windows has been on tablet pc for a decade). It is some hardware companies like Acer that deliver crap. And "publications" like elReg and iHeise that do not / not properly test the good ones.

      Windows has a far better integration of Handwriting and the inductive stylus than even the Note-series when it comes to speed, precision and possibilities of the HWR. And very stable and mature software for it (Journal is included, OneNote is part of Office) that also interacts nicely with desktop systems (SNote is Samsung only) Convertibles and the "2in1" (tablet pc + dock) work fine as well since they offer both worlds

      All it needs is the proper hardware. And that is

      10+ inch display

      WACOM or NTrig inductive stylus

      2GB memory / 64GB SSD

      As the (hopefully soon no longer) user of a Note-2 (I do not use touch only devices) - the unit does not fit securely in anything short of a cargo pocket. To carry it I need an attache case (no handbag for me - Cologne is too close for that) and if I carry that - I can just as well carry a 10'' Atom based tablet pc with UMTS/LTE modem build in. As I will once Baytrail units are out.

      1. fandom

        Re: Too late to market

        If it is true that W8 tablets require a screen of, at least, 10 inches then they will remain a niche market.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Too late to market

          Why? 10'' is the common tablet size in Fandroid.

          1. fandom

            Re: Too late to market

            Nope, 10" is one of the common sizes for Android tablets, but it is not a requirement, and millions of smaller tablets are sold, it would be a big fail for Microsoft to dismiss that market.

            But the big reason is that, as you may have heard, the big point of W8 is that it has a consistent user experience from telephones to desktops.

            At least, that's what you keep saying.

            Well, if the interface actually demands 10", how is it going to work on a phone?

            I am certain you will say that it works absolutely great but I hope you will understand if I don't take it too seriously.

            1. mmeier

              Re: Too late to market

              For me, WP8 does not work at all - No Stylus, no buy! I simply HATE touch!

              Anything smaller than 10'' is to small for me anyway. Tried a Note(2) and it's too large for the throusers, to small to work. So no matter what OS - for me a tablet pc is 10+ inch and a inductive stylus, everything else is a piece of junk

              So actually I do not care if Win8 or WP8 works on smaller displays. I won't buy anything smaller, just waiting for a 10'' Baytrail and the final Fragmentdroid unit goes into the (e)Bay and no more smartphones for me.

      2. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Too late to market

        @MMeir - Couple of points

        W8 is a new product, and tablet PCs are not Tablets, they were not designed for the same market. The Tablet PC was designed for business, tablets were designed initially for the public at large.

        The AppStore for MS is brand new, with few apps, compared to Apple or Google.

        Handwriting is not the major reason that most people will buy a tablet. They want to surf the web, consume content, look at cat photos etc

        If "all" it needs is a 10" Screen and a Wacom Pen then that is a major FAIL from the word go.

        By the way I have been using a Note for the last 18 months and it fits nicely in a suit/jacket pocket.

        Apple have the Wow factor.

        Google have the Geek factor.

        MS have ( well they don't actually have any factor for the moment.)

        1. mmeier

          Re: Too late to market

          W8 may be new, Windows and Windows on tablet pc is not

          You are allowed to use a business device for privat/public. Many have done so and some of the 10'' Atoms are clearly marketet for them (i.e Samsung)

          Consuming the web - works in Win8. Stylus a pro for non-touch forums

          App store - who cares, it's Windows and with a pen, all Windows programs work

          HWR may not be the main reason but it is the difference that makes a Windows tablet pc useable standing, one handed. Unlike a Android/iOS touch only device

          Note(2) and a pocket - than you have deep pockets. Won't fit in my shirt pocket and does not fit securely in my throuser pocket. And I am a big (190+cm) person. Jacket / suit may be - rarely wear those and when I do I carry a attache case or notebook bag anyway since it is "customer time". And in summer I do not wear windbreakers etc either.

      3. Goat Jam

        Re: Too late to market

        "Actually MS comes with a very, very mature product (Windows has been on tablet pc for a decade)."

        Good grief the level of delusion is strong in this one.

        Yes, it is true that MS have been putting out tablet (PC's) for a decade.

        It is also true that for that entire time they sucked, and languished as a niche product. Few people bought them, and for the ones that did, after the novelty wore off (5 minutes), they never flipped the screen around again and just used them as a normal laptop. This is because they sucked as tablets.

        Since before the ipad came out I have been reading crap from commentards about how tablets will not take off unless you can run Office / Photoshop / Random Windows App on them.

        Well, the news is that tablets that can't run those applications have been a success, while the ones that have been able to run Wintel crap have been, without exception, abject failures.

        This device is just another in a long line of tablets that suck because people are trying to run desktop apps on them and those desktop apps do not translate well to a touch screen.

        As for your hardware checklist, I hope you don't think that anybody could make a quality product with that level of hardware and sell it for less than $1000. Yeah, those would sell like hotcakes I'm sure.

        The fact that you believe that a tablet requires that sort of hardware to be acceptable when there are plenty of other tablets on the market that work perfectly fine without all that horsepower is an indicator that you are living somewhere in far off la-la-land.

        It's not rocket science, but I swear some of you guys make it look like it is.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Too late to market

          I'll tell that to our customers who have been using Stylistic tablet pc and their follow ups for a decade now. And we are talking three and four digit numbers of those units.

          The main reasons for the low but steady sales (Just ask Fujitsu and Lenovo - they have been doing them for that decade) where

          + HDD in a roughly handled mobile device

          + Battery capacity since the units should come in under 2kg

          + Screens easily scratched

          Those resulted in a costly device with high maintenance requirements and short runtimes. More than a normal notebook a tablet pc needs good batteries

          The problems either completely solved (SSD, Corning class) or can be solved (either going Haswell or, if performance is less critical, going Atom)

          As for the price:

          Good qualite Windows tablets with the criteria for under 1000€ are not that uncommon. Granted Atom based but the dual core CTrails used have enough power for the "common tablet" and quite a few tablet pc uses(1). All units even have UMTS or LTE for that price

          If that is below 1000 of that funny money pieces they use in the land of the great Echo(lon) is yours to check

          (1) Picture editing is better done on a core-i unit

        2. mmeier

          Re: Too late to market

          @Goat Jam (Is that similar to Toe Cheese?)

          As for the rest:

          This hardware is the minimum needed to make a Tablet PC acceptable to ME! I do not care if Alex Appefan and Frank Fragmentdroid can do with less - I can not and will not. Tried the touchy toys, paid my Lehrgeld, discarded them at a loss

  7. Robert E A Harvey

    very silly

    That picture of the tabletette in a monstrous keyboard dock is one of the funniest things I have seen for a long time. No-one in their right mind is going to do that with it, surely?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: very silly

      People want full size keyboards for serious typing. They may want to compromise on screen size when carrying just the tablet around.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    its an Acer - no surprise on performance

    Most all their stuff is built down to a price.

    1. Patrick R

      Re: its an Acer - no surprise

      "Unfortunately, the W3's overall build quality doesn't feel up to par with either of those devices. Clearly under price pressures, Acer has cut a few corners,.."

      ... no surprise indeed.

  9. Fihart

    WOT, no USB ?

    Just how much space would they save by omitting USB ? If true, bonkers.

  10. Squander Two

    "This is no tablet for photographers."

    No tablet is a tablet for photographers. That was one thing Apple got right: not putting a camera on the first iPad. The outcry over that "omission" was always completely stupid.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "This is no tablet for photographers."

      Actually, having a camera on a tablet is useful for things like Google Translate, which can use OCR to translate, say, a French newspaper into English. (data connection required)

      "No tablet is a tablet for photographers." is a little ambiguous - as a companion to a real camera, a tablet is a useful device for reviewing photographs in the field... especially since many of them have better screens than those found on most laptops.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: "This is no tablet for photographers."

        > a little ambiguous

        Out of context, yes, but the article was clearly referring to picture quality.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tablet manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank

    How to make a tablet:

    1) Take cheap netbook/laptop

    2) Remove keyboard, dvd drive, most useful standard connectors

    3) Add touch screen layer

    4) Increase price.

    5) Profit

    And mugs still buy them. Unbelievable.

  12. Great Bu

    "Flash video, in particular, seemed prone to stutter, stall, and occasionally crash."

    So it perfectly replicates the desktop experience then.......

  13. Jess

    The screen is too small for windows 8?

    I tried it in a 27" screen and it is utter crap (without classic shell).

    So what size does it work OK in?

    And if this is too small, what about all the mobiles with tiny screens?

    1. mmeier

      Re: The screen is too small for windows 8?

      I use it on to 24'' Samsungs and it works fine. So maybe you are not using enough monitors.

      1. Jess

        Re: The screen is too small for windows 8?

        I meant it was unusable because it was too big. (Fine with classic shell, but it will be going back to its owner soon).

        I would have thought a tiny screen would be better.

        1. mmeier

          Re: The screen is too small for windows 8?

          What was the problem? Works fine for me with 2x24'' Monitors. Granted, I use the keyboard shortcuts and let the rodent mostly starve. If you are "mouse over everything" than Win8 can have some long ways also even that is relative since "Start" is lower left corner of leftmost monitor in Win7 so not much difference there.

  14. Arctic fox
    Thumb Down

    Regardless of which OS we are talking about that piece of tat is an Acer.

    Nothing more needs to be said.

    1. Fihart

      Re: Regardless of which OS we are talking about that piece of tat is an Acer.

      I would have agreed, having seen a friend's silver coloured Acer laptop rapidly turn black on the corners as the silver paint wore away. But now I have a very cheap Packard Bell (aka Acer) laptop and it's not too bad.

      Judging from the general shape and the position of things like hinges, mousepad and sockets, it looks essentially the same as laptops sold as Compaq, HP, Toshiba and was probably made on the same production line.

    2. Squander Two

      Re: Regardless of which OS we are talking about that piece of tat is an Acer.

      I had an Acer that got lugged around the world and generally mistreated for ten years without a single hardware fault (which is a lot more than can be said for my flimsy piece-of-crap Macbook). Built like a tank, and so reliable I would go out of my way to pick Acer now even if they were the more expensive option. That they're cheap is just icing on the cake.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Regardless of which OS we are talking about that piece of tat is an Acer.

        Re Acer build quality - I've said it before on here, but I remember when nearly a third of a batch of travelmates we had (30 of them - nine died) went back within a year with (genuine) hardware faults.

        Recently their 'comfortable BOM' stuff - midrange laptops etc - have really, really improved, and I set up a V5 'ultrabooky' 15" laptop yesterday for a customer and was pleasantly surprised by the quality and finish - and the Elan touchpad (single piece, Macbook style) was on of the better trackpads I've used in a while. Keyboard was still a bit spongy, but then what can you buy for under £500 that isn't like that?

        It does seem from this review, however, that they still have problems on machines with extremely tight build/retail costs...

  15. Zot

    Windows 8?

    I can already see myself smashing it in half on the edge of a table, throwing it into the corner of the yard and then setting fire to it! The point-at-and-laugh age of computing will end sometime, please end soon.

  16. CharliePsycho

    such a shame

    I really want a decent W8 small tablet.

    I have a 12" x86 tablet, use it all the time... onenote is the big game changer for windows tablets as far as I am concerned. But battery life still isnt good enough, its still big and heavy and just a bit too much for everyday use.

    I now have a Samsung Note 8, perfect size. But I cant find a replacement for onenote... s note, evernote, moblenoter dont have the integration. Although at least Microsoft have updated the android onenote 'viewer' I always have remote console for my 'big PC' work and an hdmi cable! (Or widi)

    The big driver here is the stylus, which can finally make paper redundant, despite what Steve Jobs said!

    So either a really good android onenote integration will arrive, or a decent Windows 8 small form factor tablet please. Dont care if that combination costs £1000, I'll never need another pc...

    1. mmeier

      Re: such a shame

      If it must be "now":

      Lenovo TPT2

      Dell Latitude 10

      Maybe a Samsung Ativ 500 (skip the dock if you can)

      Maybe the Hondo based Fujitsu unit

      They all get 8+ hours of use, similar to a Note 10.1 and from the forums run OneNote just fine. As all CTrail Atoms they are not that great at handling multiple big programs, mainly due to the memory limits.

      Above 1000€ you get

      Sony Vaio Duo 13 with the Haswell

      Lenovo Helix

      Or wait a few month until the Baytrail comes in, that will fix the memory problem

  17. M.

    Nobody here across the pond gives a rat's patootie about any phone that runs a Microsoft Windows-based operating system. We are all too war-weary of the dreadful fights and horrible "user experiences" of fighting with Windows at the workplace to continue the Don Quixote tactics when we try to ring grandma on a winblows phone.

    No thanks. Maybe you guys need a little end user frustration to bring down your day... we're done.

    1. mmeier

      The article is neither about a phone nor about Win/RT. It is about an Atom based Win8/x86 unit.

  18. Thorfkin

    I can't speak for other people but I know what's stopping me from buying a Windows tablet. The graphics chipset. I refuse to spend money on a tablet powered by an Intel graphics chipset. I want something with a little longevity and to me that means either a discreet GPU or an AMD APU. So far none of the tablets I've seen come with either. I would like a Windows 8 tablet between 12 and 15 inches running on a decent AMD APU so I can game on it as well as surf the internet. Its really surprised me how difficult its been to find such a device.

    1. mmeier

      Does AMD have anything compareable to Haswell? If not than the new Sony Duo13 and the upcoming Samsung might be a good choice.

      If you want dedicated GPU you end up in the 1800€+ price category. Some Fujtsu T-series have / had those and IIRC some Lenovo X-series as well

      Their "Atom class" units have better GPU than CTrail but in case of Hondo less CPU performance. May or may not work. If "memory" is more important than CPU the fact they can access 4GB might be a reason to go Q572 in the Atom class

  19. oldcoder

    Wonder how it would work with Linux?

    Linux is (or can be) a bit less bloated than Windows. Would it work better?

    1. mmeier

      Re: Wonder how it would work with Linux?

      Is it that much smaller? Win8, Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote), Eclipse, Artrage, 100+ Kindle books, some games and some other tools and on the 64GB SSD in my old EP121 I have 28+ GB left (no recovery partition)

  20. Azzy
    Thumb Down

    Let's play "list the dealbreakers"

    * Crap display. Not only is it 1280x800 (the same resolution as the phone I got nearly 2 years ago), but it's not even a nice 1280x800 panel (if El Reg disses it like that, it's gotta suck, considering what they let acer get away with on laptops).

    * No micro USB charging connector. Seriously? This is a tablet, with finite battery life. If you use a non-standard charger, I have to carry that with me everywhere I go. With microusb, I can count on there being a compatible charger most places, and even if I need to bring my own, it would handle all my devices. IMO, to be fair when comparing tablets, you need to add the weight and size of any custom chargers to the quoted weight and size specs.

    * Micro SD capped at 32gb. God, I hope that's just an oversight in the specs; they're available in 64GB already, and I'd expect another 2:1 increase within the replacement cycle for a new Windows device.

    * The OS takes up 30gb of storage on a device with as little as 32.

    * Full version of Windows 8 crammed into 2gb of ram, so you can't really do anything with it.

    The core problem here is that they want windows 8 pro running on an 8 inch tablet - which is a really tall order with current technology. But they're acer, so they aren't using current technology. As usual, they cheaped out and cut corners until they produced a product nobody will want to use. Chuck it in the bin with the rest of Acer's sub-par product line.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Let's play "list the dealbreakers"

      Quite a few Android tablets do not have a USB charger either. Neither Note10.1 nor A500 had. The default 500mA a "standard charger" delivers is likely not enough anyway so you have to carry the right charger. Same for the Note2, that has USB but only the Samsung charger gives a good loading speed

      Win8 and 2GB works for what you will do with an Atom class CPU. Same as a netbook and from experience with a Lenovo S10-3 that is enough for MS-Office.

      The 32GB SSD is a joke sure. But the 30GB include a recovery partition that you can drop so the 64GB unit has useable amounts of storage.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's shit

    Washed-out grainy screen, unimpressive battery life, tragically underpowered processor, laughable amount of free space*, unusable touch interface in desktop mode, overpriced compared to the Nexus 7, flimsy case construction and keyboard, nonstandard charger, comes with bloatware preinstalled... yeah. I think I'll pass.

    "Overall, the Acer Iconia W3 is a respectable little machine"

    No it isn't. It's a bad tablet, and Acer should feel bad. :V

    * 30 gig used up on a 'recovery' partition and OS? Seriously Microsoft? What the fuck are you smoking?

    1. mmeier

      Re: It's shit

      30GB on a recovery, the full OS and Office. And as we all know Acer quite likely some 90day test versions.

  22. Captain DaFt

    So how much for just the keyboard?

    A bluetooth keyboard with a cradle to hold a tablet actually sounds like a good idea.

    Now, is it compatible with Android or Apple?

  23. Gil Grissum

    One bloke on wanted to argue with me on the popularity of Windows 8 Touchscreen Ultrabooks, claiming that they aren't selling well because manufacturers can't keep up with demand. Whatever he was drinking must' have been better than what the management at Microsoft is drinking because he's deluding himself. I've yet to encounter anyone who has an RT or Surface Tablet. Most that I know have iPads, iPad mini's or an Android Tablet. But this low end cheap feeling thing? Likely to be returned once disappointment sets in.

    1. mmeier

      Surface/x86 - not seen in the wild yet

      x86 based Win8 tablets, tablet pc and convertibles - Seen them. CoWorker bought a HP unit, customers are buying TPT2 and Lat10s. seen a few Ativ500 around

  24. David Lawrence

    I think Acer might be onto something here....

    yes I can see it now.... small screen, fiddly keyboard, under-powered processor, awkward controls, nasty bundle of unwanted stuff, poor internet, limited connectivity, clumsy design..... cheap Windows Netbook anyone?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft playing catch-up again?

    It was only recently they decided to let OEMs produce a few small-screen variants. Funny thing is that Windows CE worked on smaller displays than Windows 8 … yet they can't get the Windows 8 UI to work on a smaller screen? How long before we see a Windows Phablet?

    The more I read about Windows 8, the more I see Microsoft management singing If you leave me, can I come too?.

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