|Introduction and Specifications|
In the time since Windows 8 launched, we've seen a number of different devices and different form factors that take advantage of the operating system's touch capabilities. Ultra-portable Windows 8 devices range from ultraportable notebooks to touchscreen tablets that feature attachable keyboards. We've seen a number of hybrid ultrabooks as well. So what's the best form factor and hardware combination? Truthfully, it depends on the user and what you're trying to accomplish with the device.
Acer's new Iconia W510 series offers users the portability of a tablet along with the flexibility to use the tablet with an attachable keyboard to provide a notebook experience or the ability to use the machine as a presentation device by rotating its keyboard dock 295 degrees, using it as a stand.
The W510 is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 processor, 2GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of solid state storage. The Iconia W510 features a 10.1-inch HD (1366x768) LED-backlit display with Gorilla Glass 2. The tablet itself is thin and lightweight at 1.27 pounds and 0.35 inches. By adding the keyboard dock you still have a very portable system that measures 0.84 inches thick and weighs 2.78 pounds.
It's also important to note that the W510 runs a full version of Windows—not Windows RT, so you'll have the ability to run all of your favorite X86 software and apps with this system.
Acer says you should get up to 16 hours of battery life from the system when docked. The tablet itself is suppose to provide up to 9 hours of battery life. Of course, we'll put these claims to the test in the coming pages.
In this review, we'll take a closer look at the high-end model in the Acer Iconia W510 line, the W510-1422. This tablet comes with an attachable keyboard that offers additional battery life as well as a USB-to-mini-USB cable. The W510-1422 sells for about $750. Let's take a closer look at the hardware.
Acer's Iconia W510 looks a lot like many tablets on the market today—it uses a basic rectangular form with rounded corners and straight edges. The back of the tablet is covered in a silver finish while about three quarters of the edge is surrounded in white plastic. This white plastic edge is visible from the front of the device. The keyboard dock features white keys and a silver finish.
Docking the W510 is easy, as there are two placeholders that help you align the tablet with the dock. Thanks to these placeholders, we had no problem aligning the tablet and docking it with one hand. You'll hear a click when the tablet snaps into place. To remove the tablet from the dock, slide the unlock switch on the hinging portion of the dock. Because of the placement of the unlock switch and the need to slide it, you'll need two hands to remove the tablet from the dock.
The keyboard on the dock feels a little small but overall is very comfortable to use. The touchpad is responsive, but it doesn't support gestures. Since we've grown accustomed to using gestures to scroll and zoom on other machines, we often found ourselves missing this functionality. On the left side of the keyboard/battery dock, you'll find a power plug. The right edge near the hinge houses a USB 2.0 port.
Taking a closer look at the tablet, you'll find a speaker grill on the left edge along with the Iconia logo. The top edge of the tablet houses a headphones jack, a sliding screen orientation lock switch, and power button with battery led. On the right edge, you'll find a speaker grill, microSD card slot, micro USB port, micro HDMI port, and volume rocker. You can charge the tablet using the same power cable as you use for the dock. The charging port on the tablet is located on the bottom edge close to the center of the tablet.
An 8MP camera with LED flash is located on the back of the tablet near the center on the top edge. The NFC contact area is located on the left half of the tablet about halfway in between the camera and the Acer logo. After leaving the tablet connected to the dock for a number of hours, we noticed the right half of the back of the tablet was warm. It wasn't so warm that you couldn't hold the tablet comfortably, but you'll definitely notice the extra heat.
On the front of the tablet, you'll find the 2MP front-facing webcam centered above the display in the bezel. The Windows logo below the screen is a touch-sensitive button.
The Iconia W510 runs on a full version of Windows 8. Although the OS consumes a good chunk of the tablet's 64GB of storage, there's still room for pictures, documents, and movies. Even after installing various benchmarks and putting a few files on the machine, we still had over 25GB of free space. Keep in mind you can add additional storage via a microSD card. You can also connect additional storage using the microUSB port on the tablet or the USB port on the keyboard dock.
Acer includes its unique Acer Ring interface with the Iconia W510. You can bring up the Acer Ring by placing five fingers on the screen. This interface lets you launch apps, programs, and websites. You can customize the ring to your liking. By default, the Acer Ring shows favorite apps, documents, photos, videos, and device controls (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Auto Brightness, and Acer Ring Gestures). You can also control the system volume and music playback with the Acer Ring.
Acer includes a number of applications with the W510 including AcerCloud, clear.fi Media, clear.fi Photo, Hulu Plus, iCookbook SE, Netflix, Spotify, and more.
The native screen resolution on the Iconia W510 is 1,366 x 768. Overall, the screen is colorful and vibrant but there were times where we wished the screen supported a higher resolution.
In taking a look at the Windows Experience Index, you can see this system earns a score of 3.3. Keep in mind the Iconia W510 isn't designed to be a powerhouse system. Instead, it's designed to be a very portable and affordable Windows 8 tablet that offers some additional functionality, beyond simple media consumption, and longevity via the keyboard dock and its internal battery.
The Iconia W510 runs a full version of Windows 8.
Next, we'll take a look at how the Acer Iconia W510 tablet compares to other tablets by running and examining a few benchmarks that are currently available. Because this system is a bit of a mix between a tablet and an ultrabook, we ran many of the same benchmarks you'll see in our other ultrabook and tablet reviews.
We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth, File System).
SANDRA CPU and Multimedia Benchmarks
SANDRA Memory and File System Benchmarks
As you can see, the dual-core Z2760 holds its own compared to other Atom processors in the Processor Arithmetic test. In the Multi-Media test, the Z2760 in the Iconia W510 also performs well in comparison to the competition. Looking at the Memory Bandwidth and File System Bandwidth tests, we see more of the same: The Iconia W510 may not earn the top spot, but it's not far behind the low power competition either.
The Iconia W510 earns second place in this test, coming in just behind the similarly-equipped Samsung ATIV. As you can see, these two Windows 8 systems outscore many other systems in our comparison by a comfortable margin. Intel's new Clover Trail architecture inherently does will with this test.
Not too long ago, Rightware created a newer generation of its BrowserMark (version 2.0) benchmark that uses a new scoring scale. As a result, our comparison systems are a bit more limited.
Even though Rightware said our browser was superior to only 14% of all desktop browsers, the Iconia W510 scored well in this test if you compare it to many of the mobile devices we have for comparison. Keep in mind the W510 is the only Windows 8 device in this chart. Two Android/ARM-based devices achieved a higher score than the W510.
In an attempt to quantitatively measure the W510's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran both Battery Eater Pro and our own Hot Hardware web browsing test where we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics, Flash media and text. The page automatically refreshes every three minutes, we loop the page and disable sleep and hibernate modes. Battery life is measured down to the minute the tablet shuts down. The Wi-Fi radio is enabled in this test to simulate battery life in real-world web browsing over a wireless connection. The stock browser was used. For both tests, we set the W510's display to 50% brightness, which is still plenty bright and easy on the eyes.
When docked in the keyboard dock, the W510 outlasted all other tablets by a large margin in our web browsing test. Even when tested without the dock, the W510 still outlasted all other systems in our comparison.
In the Battery Eater tests, you see much of the same: the W510 with the keyboard dock and extra battery outlasted all other systems by a large margin. When comparing just the tablet to other systems in the Battery Eater test, the W510 still outlasted most systems; only the Samsung ATIV 500T outlasted the W510.
Overall, our time with Acer's Iconia W510 was rather enjoyable. We like the flexibility of having the keyboard dock to enter text, compose emails, and surf the web. We also appreciated the fact that Acer has provided the full Windows 8 experience with a multi-touch display in a compact form.
The W510 is easy to dock thanks to the pegs on the keyboard dock. It may seem like something minor, but anything that helps align the system and snap it into place quickly and easily is definitely something we appreciate. In addition, we like that Acer has included a full-size USB port on the side of the keyboard dock for additional storage and easy transferring of files. Our biggest complaint with the keyboard dock is that the touchpad doesn't support gestures. Although the touchpad functions just fine, the lack of gesture support makes the touchpad feel a bit like it's a generation behind many of the ultrabooks we've tested recently.
Battery life with the W510 is excellent; even when undocked from the battery/keyboard dock, the W510 outlasted most systems in our comparison database. For users who require a tablet and/or ultrabook that can last, the W510 offers more longevity than most systems we've reviewed.
If you've considered a tablet or an ultrabook for use in the kitchen, on a plane, or for giving presentations, you'll also like that the W510 can convert to stand mode. By rotating the keyboard on the Iconia W510 back 295 degrees, the W510 can stand at a comfortable viewing angle on a desk or counter.
For users who can't decide which is better—a tablet or an ultrabook—Acer's Iconia W510 is a good option that balances most of these features, for the best of both worlds. You'll pay a bit of a premium in comparison to an Android tablet with a keyboard dock but in exchange, you'll get the full capabilities of Windows 8, including the ability to run your favorite and most-needed apps.