With the advent of Windows 8 and its vastly improved touch interface (improved over previous Windows versions, in any event), we’ve seen a lot of experimentation by tablet and PC makers—especially among hybrid tablet/laptops. Nearly every major computer manufacturer (Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, to name a few) has debuted not just one but several convertible slates, and some of them are quite impressive.
The Taiwanese electronics giant Acer has entered the fray with two new Windows 8 slates: the $599.99-list Iconia W510 (which we’re in the process of reviewing) and the Iconia W700 (which starts at about $800 list). Here, we looked at the company’s top-of-the-line version of the W700, the $999.99-list Iconia W700-6465. While not everything about the W700-6465 wowed us, we couldn’t help but be impressed by its specs, which include a laptop-grade Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 1,920×1,080-resolution screen, and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD).
On the other hand, we found ourselves a little mystified by some of the design decisions—namely, the keyboard and docking-station accessories—that Acer cooked up for this tablet. For example, the Iconia W700-6465’s Bluetooth keyboard has no pointing device. Because of this slate’s high pixel density, many of the buttons and icons in Windows 8’s Desktop mode are too small to touch precisely with your finger. (This, and several other accessory-design issues, are discussed in the Design section on the next page.)
Still, we found a lot to like about the Iconia W700-6465. The tablet itself was attractive and well-built, and it performed respectably in our suite of benchmark tests, especially on our demanding battery-rundown trial. The screen displayed our photos, game graphics, and videos beautifully. Audio playback was decent, too, and the front and back cameras worked reasonably well, as tablet cams go. Also, the Iconia W700-6465 runs a full-blown version of Windows 8, rather than the less-powerful and less-versatile Windows RT iteration seen in recent Windows tablets like the Microsoft Surface RT and Asus VivoTab RT. “Real” Windows 8 runs most legacy Windows programs (for example, Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Outlook), which is always a plus; RT requires apps compiled for RT.
We do believe, though, that most users will find the Iconia W700-6465’s keyboard and docking station (Acer calls the latter a “multipurpose cradle”) awkward, unless you don’t mean to use this unit as anything but a tablet and a desktop PC. Unlike most tablet keyboard/dock configurations, which typically consist of a detachable one-piece keyboard with additional ports (and, often, an additional battery), the Iconia W700-6465’s keyboard and docking station are separate pieces. As a result, it’s not realistic to convert the W700 into an on-the-fly laptop on the road.
With that in mind, even though we did like the tablet itself very much, we couldn’t see our way clear to award it our Editors’ Choice nod. Acer’s bold design decisions make taking the W700-6465 on the road as anything but a tablet more trouble than it should be. Still, people who use their slates mostly at home or the office might find the W700-6465 useful, and the gorgeous screen and able-sounding speakers make it a great multimedia-consumption device.
See the full review at Computer Shopper.