Review: Acer Iconia Tab W700

Acer's Iconia Tab W700 is a laptop-class tablet, that runs atop Intel's Core i5-3317U dual-core CPU as opposed to the common Aton Z2760 found in most pure 'tablet' Windows 8 devices.

NameWindows 8 tablet: Acer Iconia Tab W700 (53314G12as)
At a glance:11.6-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display,Intel Core i5-3317U dual-core 1.7GHz CPU,4GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage,Windows 8 (64-bit),259 x 168 x 11.9mm, 950g
Summary:Powerful, mobile and well supported by accessories, but very hard to justify given the existence of thin-and-light laptops.

Acer's Iconia Tab W700 is the first Windows 8 tablet we’ve tested that’s not based on the low-powered Intel Atom Z2760. Instead, the W700 runs atop Intel’s Core i5-3317U dual-core CPU, as found in some of the latest ultraportable and convertible laptops.

Unlike Atom-powered models, which have a limit of 2GB of DDR2 RAM, the W700 offers 4GB of faster DDR3 RAM. It also includes a larger 128GB solid state drive.

The W700’s computing and graphical abilities far exceed that of its Atom-based cousins – it’s essentially a keyboardless laptop, with the high performance and limited battery life that entails. It’s not a 3D gaming powerhouse, but it will handle the sort of file compression, video transcoding, photo editing and other resource-intensive tasks that will take forever or outright fail on lesser-powered but longer-running Atom tablets.

Screen real-estate and sharpness are also better on the W700. It has an 11.6-inch, full-HD 1920 x 1080 display as opposed to the 1366 x 768 displays found on the other Windows 8 tablets we’ve tested. It does look much sharper, and better handles applications designed for larger screens.

How does battery life fare with the W700’s laptop-class processor and larger screen? Our Atom-based tablets averaged a little under seven hours in our ‘Productivity’ battery run-down test. The W700 lasted 4 hours 44 minutes, or about 30%, less. That’s perhaps not a deal-breaker, given the extra processing power available, but it’s a hard trade-off to justify unless you really need the additional power.

The Core i5 CPU supports USB 3.0, whereas Atom CPUs only support USB 2.0, and a USB 3.0 port is included on the tablet – this is great for connecting high-speed external storage or networking devices. There’s a micro HDMI port and a micro HDMI to VGA cable is included, but you’ll have to supply an appropriate HDMI cable yourself. Despite that omission, the W700 is very generous with its accessories.

In the box you get a leather folio case with built-in Bluetooth keyboard – similar to the Type Cover available for the Microsoft Surface. Key travel is very shallow, but the keys are quite large and it still beats an on-screen keyboard any day of the year. While you can type, there’s no way to control the pointer apart from the W700’s touchscreen. A touchpad would have been hugely valuable. The case has a stiff, tupperware-like plastic surround that holds the tablet in place, but we found it quite difficult to apply and remove.

Also included is a hard plastic docking station with a picture-frame stand that lets it hold the tablet up in either landscape or portrait mode. It connects to the W700’s power and USB ports, and has a built-in three-port USB 3.0 hub.

On its own, the Iconia Tab W700 weighs in around 950 grams. With its keyboard case, that’s bumped up to 1.6kg. You know what you could easily carry that weighs 1.6kg or less? A 13-inch laptop, with exactly the sort of hardware the W700 contains, but its own built-in keyboard. You know, so you wouldn’t need both a stand and a folio case, which you swap between.

The W700 is a neat device, with its solid little aluminium unibody, its stylish gray leather case and almost retro-chic stand. It’s fairly impressive how much power is packed into the thin body, without breaking the 1kg mark. However, I just can’t imagine why you would want one when for the same price or less, you could get a laptop that does exactly the same thing and is every bit as portable – if not more so.

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Tags Windows 8Tablettouchscreentouch

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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