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    A week with an Acer Iconia W700.

    by Bill Rockhold

     

    When Microsoft introduced the Surface Pro they also introduced a battery life argument with their ‘half the battery life’ statement.  I wasn't convinced I wanted to wait until some time in January to buy a new tablet, so I picked up an Acer Iconia W700.

     

    w700front.jpg

     

    I was walking around my local Microcenter, to buy a friend a Christmas present, and I noticed

    the W700 on display with the Android tablets. Microcenter had only

    received a few of these tablets and I got the last one they had in

    stock.

     

    Acer has three versions of the W700. Two have Core i5 processors with

    ether a 64 or a 128 Gb SSD and a model with a Core i3 processor with a

    64 Gb SSD. I picked up the i3 version hoping for better battery life.

    The 64 Gb SSD after the OS and a few installed apps left 38 Gb free

    and I figured that if I kept data on a USB stick that would be enough,

    at least for now. The i3's price is $749 and seems to be a good deal

    when you take in account the included extras, like the dock, a HDMI to

    VGA adapter, a leather case, and Bluetooth keyboard.

     

    I won’t rattle on about the hardware since that has been covered by

    numerous other reviewers. But I will say the chassis is a solidly machined

    aluminum construct and seems very sturdy though I haven't tried

    dropping it or running it over with my car.

     

    I've used a 10” Android tablet for a year and a half and a 7” Nook Color for two years and relative

    to those this tablet is a little heavy at a little over 2 lbs.  I

    can live with the weight when I consider that the W700 is close to

    matching my 8.2 lbs laptop in both horsepower and battery life. The

    1920x1080 11.6” display is clear and bright. The W700’s boot up is 7

    seconds from cold, every other tablet that I have used cold boot in 30

    to 60 seconds. Booting in 7 seconds, there isn't much reason to leave

    the tablet in a sleep state which uses more power when your not using

    it. But if you do put it in sleep mode, it will wake from sleep in 3

    seconds.

     

    Coming from Windows 7 and XP, the usability is a little strange, with

    Windows 8 being a little schizophrenic. When Win8 starts up it shows a

    login screen, but when I first got it the keyboard wouldn't always

    come up when I tapped on the password field and there isn't a keyboard

    button to manually open it. When this happened, I have found that if

    tap the arrow/go button which cause the log in to fail with the empty

    password, but the next time I'd tap on the password field the keyboard

    will come up. The problem did go away after a couple of days.

     

    I've downloaded a few “metro” apps that I'm used to using on Android,

    but they generally don’t look and function like the versions that I

    used to. It’s not good or bad, it's just different. The “metro” screen

    doesn't react to taps to launch apps as fast as my old Acer Iconia

    A500 Android tablet did but the apps work well and I can adjust to

    the new app styles, I just have to learn to tap slower. Navigating the

    start screen is fluid, but it took a while to figure out how to remove

    tiles. There should be better help in learning how to do things. It is

    not entirely intuitive and I would have really been lost if other people

    hadn't shown me some of the basic gestures beforehand.

     

    I’m more interested in how the OS works on the desktop, since that is

    where I will be working the most, doing development and office work.

    This is where things get to be a little problematic. 1080p is a lot of

    resolution for a 23 inch monitor, for an 11.6” screen it makes things

    small and sometimes hard to tap on, specially in apps like windows

    explorer and advanced configuration setting screes. I am using a trick

    I've used on my HTPCs by going into the display settings and changing

    the “size of all items” setting. I've gone with a setting of 125%, but

    the size can be increased up to 200%. I've installed Classic Shell to

    put the start button back on the desktop. It works great in showing

    the classic menu and the new “metro” apps. It allows the OS to boot to

    the desk top instead of the Start screen. I did have to tweak a

    setting in Classic Shell to have the windows button bring up the Start

    screen like it did before in installed Classic Shell. Otherwise the

    windows button expands the Classic Shell Start menu.

     

    The included keyboard works well, though the layout does throw me off

    a little and I do miss some of the dedicated keys that are not there,

    but there are key combos for most things. The keyboard looks like it

    is made by Logitech and matches the Logitech keyboard that I bought

    earlier this year. It is easy to type on and the keys react well. I

    also bought a Bluetooth mouse because I have found that touch is just

    not going to cut it when using apps like Visual Studio.

     

    kbfront-1024x576.jpg

     

     

     

    For desktop apps, the on screen keyboard doesn't come up idiomatically

    when you tap on a text field, so you need to use the keyboard button

    on the toolbar and it doesn't always react the first time you tap on

    it. The on screen keyboard will often cover over whatever app you’re

    typing in since the OS doesn't move or scale the app for the space the

    keyboard takes up.

     

    kbside.jpg

     

    Now for the 800 lbs gorilla in the room, lets talk about battery life.

    I didn't do a scientific test, but I ran 1080p video on a loop for 4

    and half hours and demoed the tablet several times for co-workers and

    at the end of the day I still had 25% charge. I would guess that it

    can run 6 and a half to 7 hours on a charge at factory settings. On a

    weekend trip to Chicago I tweaked the power settings to limit the CPU to

    50% on battery and used it on and off all weekend (around 4 hours

    total) and still had 50% charge come Monday morning. I didn't notice

    any performance problems with it configured this way.

     

    The tablet also came with a dock that feels fairly cheap and plasticy, but

    it is functional. It has 3 USB ports and a power port. When you dock

    the tablet, it connects to the tablets power and USB ports. The

    docking is smooth and easy, but disconnecting is a little difficult.

    The dock doesn't have much for rubber feet or much weight to it, so

    it may slide around some during touch use. I doubt I'll use it much

    since I'm using the case and the dock won't work with the case

    attached.

     

    The included case for the tablet is leather or good fake leather and

    securely holds the tablet. It flips over to allow the table to be held

    in hand and can also allow you to position the tablet on a desk in a

    “laptop” mode. I like this cover, it’s not quite as good as some

    leather flip covers that you can find for other tablets, but it is way

    better than the crap rubber case that was an optional extra when I

    bought the A500 last year.

     

    w700case.jpg

     

    w7003-4.jpg

     

    For per-installed software there isn't a lot. There's a link to download

    a trial of office and ebay desktop app and McAfee Internet Security.

    There are some per-installed “metro” apps like Kindle, Skype, Hulu and

    Netflix. I'm a little disappointed with Microsoft, since Security

    Essentials doesn't currently support Windows 8. Acer has also added a

    little of their own software. Acer Ring is a configuration that

    comes up if you place 5 fingers on the screen. I quickly disabled

    that. They also have a cloud storage app and a backup app that I

    haven't tried yet.

     

    I’m not going to try to recommend this device or not. Though I will

    say that the hardware seems solid and most of the things that bothered

    me are software and maybe fixed or compensated for. These Windows 8

    tablets are still very new and by their nature require compromise. But

    they have pushed the ability of what a tablet can do from a

    consumption toy to a possible laptop replacement or at least a device

    the spans both realms. If that is what you need, then this tablet

    maybe a good fit. I'm keeping mine.

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    I didn't realize all the extra stuff that came with it. That's kinda nice because those items can nickel and dime you to death!
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    Great review and a very nice tablet. I had the Acer Iconia Tab W500 and ran all the previews on it and Windows 8 final. Worked very well with decent battery life.
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    Just a heads-up: Microsoft Security Essentials was integrated into Windows Defender so there's no need to download a separate anti-virus program in W8 :)
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    I have the w700 and love it. I have the i3. I run Photoshop, Photomatix, full office, some games both metro and non. Bluestacks works great for Google Books, Sony Reader, and a few other Android apps I was missing. The screen is beautiful and the battery blows away the competitors.
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    @Ken A...Can you tell us do you have some cons for this device? I am so thinking to buy it but still think it is maybe early because win8 and tablets running it are still young... You can also send me opinion on mail dragan.karic@hotmail.com Thans in advance for help
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    I just picked one of these up...love it so far. Not because Windows * is that good, though because I like to have the desktop when I need it, and the tablet interface is still kind of a gimmick to me. Did the brown leather case come with it? I didn't get one in the box?
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    very couple of internet sites that happen to generally be in-depth beneath, from our perspective are unquestionably properly truly worth checking out...
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    Fine review of the Acer Iconia W700! It looks so nice. I'm sure the device has to include with USB port and connection. Hey Pal, you are perfect because of your gift selection is awesome to me though I've decided that I will buy just same one for my friends birthday. Thanks!
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    I'd like to buy tablet which has a Windows OS to be unique. Because most of the tablet I've seen in the market comes with Android. Windows 8 has a this very nice interface than with Android.
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