Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
The Acer Iconia W700 Windows 8 tablet features an Intel Core i5 processor, 11.6-inch HD screen, 7.5 hours of battery life and the ability to work as a tablet, notebook or desktop all for $949.99. Could this be the ultimate Windows 8 tablet?
Acer has been churning out impressive Windows hardware with really high-build quality and industry leading design and materials.
I've tested the Acer Aspire V5 15.6-inch notebook with a touchscreen as well as the stellar Acer S7 11.6-inch Ultrabook which is the thinnest and lightest Ultrabook tested this year. The shift from cheaply-made and inexpensive hardware to high-quality and well designed devices has been nothing short of dramatic.
The Iconia W700 is Acer's premium Windows 8 tablet device. It features a stunning machined Aluminum unibody case that's reasonably lightweight at 2.3 pounds yet features an ultra-vivid 11.6-inch IPS LCD with a 1920 x 1080 HD resolution.
Acer ships the Iconia W700 with a multi-functional plastic dock that can orient the tablet in landscape and portrait mode as well as tilt it for easier onscreen typing. Users also get a leatherette case with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard which is the perfect solution for using it in notebook mode.
There are a couple of variants of the W700 available starting with a $749.99 Intel Core i3 model up to a version with Windows 8 Pro and a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor priced at around $1049.00.
In terms of hardware, Acer has given this surprisingly thin tablet premium Ultrabook specs. You get the latest Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5-3317U processor (3 MB L3 cache, 1.70 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.60, DDR3 1600 MHz, 17 W) powering the Windows 8 64 Bit OS.
4GB or RAM help ease everything along nicely and 128GB of SSD storage is standard. Intel HD Graphics 4000 - front & rear webcams - 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth,Micro-HDMI-out, one USB 3.0, and a 7-hour 3-cell battery round out the impressive spec sheet.
The Acer Iconia W700 feels great in the hand. As far as tablets go, it is exceedingly well balanced, feels very manageable to carry with one hand and the fit and finish is superb.
Acer didn't cut any corners in creating the Iconia W700, it redefined the pro tablet genre and seems to be out to prove that power, portability and sufficient battery life are possible in one device.
Because of the dual nature of Windows 8 Pro, users can switch between the tiled view to the traditional desktop view within seconds.
Good news is that with 128GB of storage, the Iconia W700 still leaves 90GB of free space for all your Windows applications, files and documents. The addition of an SDCard slot would have been much appreciated but that can still be resolved with a USB adaptor used in tandem with the sole USB 3.0 port.
I found navigating Windows 8 on the Iconia's display quick and fluid with no lag whatsoever, the viewing angles of the LCD display are also very good thanks to the IPS technology that's built right in.
Watching videos and TV shows and event Netflix streaming on the Iconia W700 is a treat.
The colours are accurately replicated, movement is smooth and even HD encoded files look and also sound great thanks to the built-in Dolby Home Theatre technology and stereo speakers.
Acer provides a rear 5.0 megapixel camera as well as a front facing camera. These are geared more towards conferencing apps like Skype rather than serious photography but they would work in a pinch.
Even with moderate to intense use (i.e. HD video playback), the Acer Iconia W700 performed very well.
The fans do kick in and you can hear them but they are nowhere as loud or annoying as some recent Ultrabooks I've tested.
I was also surprised that the W700 didn't get all that warm, the aluminum case as well as the sizeable vents do a great job of keeping this tablet running cool. Here you see Acer's expertise in making notebooks as well as tablets come into play.
The Iconia W700 is also fun to use. As a tablet, it offers the perfect balance work and play, is easy to use and the 10-point multitouch screen is ideal for a variety of touch focused applications.
As a standalone Windows tablet it excels in framing Windows 8's tile-focused interface that great for casual apps, surfing the web, consuming video and photos as well as various PC games that it can actually run without hiccups (I plan on installing StarCraft II this weekend).
The W700 has become my second screen device for when I'm watching sports on TV and want to catch up on Twitter feeds using MetroTwit. I love that it can wake from sleep and be running an app in less than two seconds and when I need to put up a post on my blog or check email it works just like any desktop or notebook PC out there.
When docked and connected to my wireless IOGear Compact Keyboard, i can resume writing articles, manage spreadsheets and run full versions of desktop apps like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Illustrator.
I could go a step further and connect the Iconia W700 to my 23-inch monitor and outfit it with a full-sized keyboard and mouse and I would have a complete desktop solution. That's really impressive for something that's essentially a tablet.
It is great that Acer includes the dock as well as the keyboard case with the Iconia W700. Other companies would easily charge around $120 for a QWERTY keyboard add on and another $100 for a charging dock.
Speaking of the included dock, it features three USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI-out port as well which should take care of any expansion, backup or peripheral hookup requirements.
I will continue to test the Iconia W700 as I install various applications and transition to using it as my main computing device. Spending a week with it, i feel that Acer has changed the game and gotten closer to the ideal Post-PC device.
At the very least, it has achieved a solid and well-rounded take on what a modern Windows 8 tablet/ notebook/ desktop device is all about.
As awesome as the Iconia W700 is, could it be better?
The answer is yes. The plastic dock that accompanies the tablet feels rather flimsy and is a far cry from the awesome build quality of the tablet itself.
Giving the Iconia W700 the ability to use a SIM card for data would make a lot of sense for such a well-rounded and multifunctional device. Other than that, the Iconia W700 is a very strong product.
The Acer Iconia W700 ((W700-6407)) is a stunning value. A powerful tablet with the performance of a Windows 8 ultrabook and an almost all-day 7-hour battery life. If this is the future of the PC, it's looking sweet.
Rating: to follow