Acer's Iconia W3: Most important Windows 8 tablet yet

Acer's Iconia W3: Most important Windows 8 tablet yet

Summary: The anticipated 8-inch Windows 8 tablet has been announced and it's a slate that finally brings Windows into the true tablet space.

Image credit: Acer

It's long been expected to see smaller Windows 8 tablets appear, and the Acer Iconia W3 looks to be a significant entry into the mobile space. With a display of 8.1 inches, the W3 will bring Windows 8 into the true tablet space.

Acer is packing an Atom processor, 2GB of memory, and either 32GB or 64GB of storage in the small W3 with the 8.1-inch display. That screen is not high resolution but the 1280x800 should be a solid entry into the small Windows 8 segment at just $379. That price is especially nice as Acer is preinstalling Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 on the W3.

When rumors first appeared about 8-inch Windows 8 tablets, I admit I didn't think they would be practical. Then I realized that as a firm believer that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to mobile devices, the smaller size may be just what some consumers want.

I have two 8-inch tablets and like them both so I'm anxious to get my hands on the Acer W3. I've been promised that will happen in a few weeks, so I'll have to be patient.

The Acer Iconia W3 tablet is a signficant entry in the Windows 8 arena. The smaller tablet is perfect for using in the hands so it's the first true tablet with Windows 8. The larger Windows 8 tablets often have keyboards included, or are marketed heavily to be used with them. The W3 is designed to be a handheld device, and it will finally bring Windows 8 to the real tablet space.

Acer will sell an optional keyboard dock to be used with the W3 so it's not totally removed from keyboard use. I'm surprised that Acer chose to use a full-size keyboard on the dock, which isn't as mobile as a slightly smaller model would have been. I guess Acer is thinking W3 owners will leave the dock at the desk and take just the tablet on outings.

Running Windows 8 on such a small display and resolution will have to be tried to see how well it works. I think it will be fine but will require hands-on use to get a feel for it. The narrow dimension of the 1280x800 resolution concerns me the most, as that is pretty narrow for a multi-tasking OS like Windows. I hope it will handle snap view on Windows 8.1 as it won't currently on Windows 8.

UPDATE: It's been confirmed that snap view will indeed work on low resolution devices like the W3.

The Atom processor should provide plenty of performance for the W3, with decent battery life. The tablet seems a little heavy (1.1lbs) compared to other 8-inch tablets, so it may feel a little dense in the hand for extended periods. That extra weight must be the price of having a full Intel PC inside the small package.

The price of the Acer Iconia W3 should make it easier for Windows 8 enthusiasts who are sitting on the fence for a smaller tablet. My experience with tablets this size is that some who are opposed to small slates often find them to be great mobile devices once they try them. That's easier to do when the price is right.

Topics: Mobility, Tablets, Windows 8

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Leaving the dock...

    I have the ATIV 500, which is pretty much an analog to your Envy X2 (with the addition of a Wacom digitizer). I got it with a keyboard dock and I bought a desktop dock for work.

    To be honest, I use the desktop dock regularly, because I plug it in and use a full sized keyboard and mouse, along with a 24" display, when at my desk. On the other hand, at home, I have used the keyboard-dock once in the last couple of months.

    Out and about, I use the onscreen keyboard and the stylus for note taking.

    I am surprised how little I use the keyboard dock, although that said, I tend to make short notes on the moe, then write things up using a real keyboard, once back at my desk.
  • Holy wow.

    Why would someone buy a tablet with a competing OS if you could have a fully functional computer for the same price? I'm sorry SJVN (if you're reading this), but I seriously think Windows 8 is going to crush iOS and OS X to a powder. Eventually. That's what's great about living in the now, you're always on the brink of the future. :)
    • here we go again...

      its been explained over and over by people who do know why. Excuse my tone but BECAUSE WE DONT WANT A FULL LEGACY COMPUTER IN A 10" OR LESS TABLET! This thing will run like sh*t, mark my words. And how the heck anybody can be rooting for microsoft these days, must be getting paid. Microsoft is NOT the future.
      • Same processor

        as my current tablet and it doesn't run like sh*t, it is fast enough to run all my desktop apps, when attached to a 24" monitor, but when I undock it, I have a nice tablet with touch based apps, or if I need it, access to my desktop apps on the move.

        For me, that was the big selling point. A light tablet, that I could use as a desktop replacement. Okay, I can't do Lightroom and video editing on it, but everything else I need to do is well within its capabilities.
        • Cloud Apps are the solution

          It's silly to expect to run full Microsoft Windows on a lightweight portable tablet and at the same time get decent battery life. These applications need to run in the cloud, allowing you full access from anywhere on any machine without the absurd overhead of running Windows. If you need Office........ you need a powerful laptop.
          • Not really

            Given that I get a WLAN connection for about 20% of the time I use the device, I am glad it isn't in the cloud!

            The processor is fast enough and 9 hours of actual use between recharges is enough for my needs.
          • I agree

            Why didn't they go with a "blown up" and compatible Windows Phone OS, full app store ready to go. Start with the 8" and then move it up to 10", use Windows 8 for the 10" and hybrid devices.
      • Too bad

        your vision of the future is dimmed by an irrational bias.
      • the answer is MOBILITY!

        Yes there are trade offs and some tablet manufacturers including Microsoft don't really understand how users actually use their devices, but....

        I've got a ms Surface Pro, and what I can now do that I couldn't before is move with my programs and my data I'm working on to meetings and client locations and have all my "stuff" with me. No more having to haul massive paper files or making calls to got info or cranking open a laptop and typing notes. . . .
        And back at the office-I plugin my 27" monitor and I'm good to go!

        As far as MS not being the future, that is yet to be seen. Currently, and into the near future most companies are using Office or some near representation, so MS will probably be around. There might be better solutions but there is a lot of investment in MS solutions so it's unlikely that MS will drop off.

        The real purpose of any device or OS is being able to use it productively. I can't see using a tablet for productive tasks that can't run my programs and does not have a stylus! Without that its merely a reader!
      • here we go again...

        That's what they said about laptops/notebooks - which also used to need a docking station for full functionality.

        NOTE: people who can't express themselves without resorting to initials or stars/dashes (or other marks) just show how ignorant and uncultured they are. Such things only detract from what is said. The same is true of those who claim positive posters are being paid by [insert your anti-company], or purport to speak for the general masses.
      • I have marked your words, but...

        I visited my local PCWorld and had a 30 minute play on an Iconia W510, which is identical to the W3 internally (the W510 has a bigger screen).

        I did not run like sh*t. Quite the contrary - it was snappy and responsive. Based on when I experienced first hand, I decided to purchase the Iconia W3.

        In regards to not wanting a full legacy computer in tablet form - again, not true! I want to be able to work from my tablet, and I want to be able to program my Arduino from my tablet. I fail to see how anyone would not prefer having a full computer in a small form factor.

        p.s. I do not get paid by Microsoft, and have no affiliation with Microsoft whatsoever, but I do believe that Microsoft is the future. Off to a rough start, but when the Bay Trail CPUs hit the market in a month or so, Microsoft will be back in the race, and will likely emerge as the dominant player (eventually).
    • Nope

      I'm even a Microsoft fan and I have no interest at all in having a "fully functional" computer in an 8" tablet. I think it's completely asinine that this thing isn't running Windows RT with longer battery life and half the weight and thickness.
      • there is no right choice

        RT has failed, but would technically be the right OS for this. Windows 8 is completely wrong for such a device but people want it to run the legacy apps, which require a larger screen and keyboard. The fact that windows 8 was actually used on this, is a testament to the utter failure of RT.
      • you do realise this is Atom right?

        So it does have the same battery life and weight of a Windows RT device.
    • Because 325 is less than 379

      And you get a lot more capability for less cost.
  • A mini keyboard would be hard to use

    Plus we already know Snap View won't work on resolutions this low. My old 15" laptop had this resolution though and was perfectly usable.
    • It will work in Windows 8.1

      MS has lowered the requirement to be only 1024x768, but it will be limited to 50/50 splits for 4:3 dimensioned screens.
      Michael Kelly
  • Hate to say it

    but, I don't see the appeal of a 7" or 8" tablet.
    • Me either

      but that isn't to say that some people won't find it more useful than a "full sized" tablet.
    • Reality

      is that tablets are not really production devices (except for Win8), they are strictly for consumption. Yes, I know some people use iPads for homework etc. But, if you have a desktop with a 20"+ monitor sitting a few feet away, or a 15" laptop, with a full keyboard and touchpad . . . who are you fooling? Windows 8 tablets are different that way.

      So, why mess with a larger and heavier 10" tablet, when you do the exact same thing with a 7" just as easily and cheaper and more convenient?

      I will guess that Apple will kill sales of iPads when they launch a 5" iPhone. Kids today do not care about iPads they do the same things with their phones anyhow.