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74 Engadget Score
A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.
74

A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.

How we score

The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. The Global Score is arrived at only after curating hundreds, sometimes thousands of weighted data points (such as critic and user reviews).

Engadget Review

In addition to its portable, easy-to-hold form factor, the W3's long battery life and reasonable price make it a great value among Windows tablets.

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Pros
  • Reasonably priced
  • Microsoft Office included
  • Long battery life
  • For now, the only 8-inch Windows 8 tablet
Cons
  • Washed-out screen with poor viewing angles
74 Engadget Score
A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.
74

A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.

How we score

The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. The Global Score is arrived at only after curating hundreds, sometimes thousands of weighted data points (such as critic and user reviews).

Scores

Engadget

74
 

User Reviews

60
kichigai
I came to the Iconia W3 because I wanted something smaller than a 10" tablet,...read more
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Score Breakdown

 
60
Average user Score
 
60
kichigai
07.27.13
I came to the Iconia W3 because I wanted something smaller than a 10" tablet, but also wanted a fairly full featured OS. At $349, it's closest competitors were the Nexus 7, the Surface RT, and the iPad Mini. I had heard good things about the Nexus 7, but Android hadn't convinced me that its tablet ecosystem was quite there yet. The iPad Mini always felt like it was just about to be replaced, what with its non-Retinized screen and its two-generation-old hardware. That left the Surface RT, which I loved the design of, and would be willing to break with my interest in a smaller tablet for, if it wasn't for how locked down Windows RT was. This left the W3, so I took a chance.Being the first 8" Windows 8 Tablet means you're in for some growing pains. Many aspects of the Desktop (and even some of the Metro) environment are too small. I found it almost impossible to close Chrome tabs using the touch interface, and frequently resorted to popping commands in on the virtual keyboard. In fact, one of my biggest complaints was the keyboard, or lack of a good one. Putting aside the fact that Windows 8's on screen keyboard is good in the Metro environment, but oddly different in the Desktop environment (no auto-correct, and you either hover over the bottom half of the screen, or force all windows to resize to squeeze into only the top half of the screen) was part of the problem. The other part was that you really do need a physical keyboard to properly use the Desktop environment, or to get any serious typing done. Microsoft knew this when they designed the Surface. Putting aside the awkwardness of the on-screen keyboard, most full-screen software expect a keyboard and is simply useless without it. Take, for example: Flash. When you put a Flash video into full screen, how do you get out? The Escape key. But there is no Escape hard key, and with the Flash video in full screen there is no way to call up the on screen keyboard (which also doesn't have an Escape key). So to get out of a full screen video you need to call up the Task Manager and force close your browser.Now, Acer does make a keyboard for the W3, but as opposed to its big brother for the W510, this one is a Bluetooth affair, with no additional power supply, powered by Bluetooth, and requires you to flip both the keyboard and the tablet over to snap it into a compartment on the back. This takes the keyboard for the W3 from "useful" to "inconvenient," since you can't simply snap it shut like a laptop. I'm willing to forgive the lack of additional batteries in the keyboard, but the omission of a trackpad in a keyboard that is already larger than the tablet itself seems inexcusable, as it would have made the teeny tiny buttons in the Desktop mode accessible, so instead that means you still have to carry around a separate mouse to accomplish that.Things get worse when you start to push the machine. The Atom z2760, a surprising little chip from Intel, does ok in the Metro interface, but once you start to try to push it, it goes to pieces. It may be dual core, but it has a one track mind. Any time a web page came up with Flash in it I could basically kiss away any responsiveness. If I ran Chrome with Flashblock, I didn't get a much better experience switching to or from Chrome. Assuming I stayed in one or two tabs, and never left Chrome, things were alright. But task switching was a major no-no. And anything that would remotely overwhelm the CPU promptly crashed. Just, poof, no warning, cloud of smoke, and we aren't even talking insane software like AutoCAD.It also doesn't help that the z2760 has what I will generously call "a GPU, of sorts." It's Intel's embedded-class Graphics Media Accelerator, which delivers, in my opinion, performance almost worse than the original GMA 950. I didn't really expect the W3 to be a gaming machine, but I figured a couple old point-and-click games from the past, or even the classic Star Craft from 1998, which demands a paltry Pentium 90. Sure, the Atom z2760 can keep up, but the GMA can't be bothered to try and scale up the images to fit. It also doesn't help that the Windows 8 touch layer falls apart here, requiring double taps where one should have sufficed. So even if you can see what's happening, you'll still need a mouse. Again, this wouldn't be such an awful situation if the keyboard had a trackpad. Games designed for the Metro environment handed well enough, but it's worth noting that the games I tried, like Rayman Jungle Run, were all two dimensional and designed to perform well on ARM devices as well. I hesitated to try the freshly released Halo: Spartan Assault since I was still unsure if I was going to keep the device.However the rest of the hardware wasn't so bad, but it wasn't that great. The cameras were absolute garbage, failing to produce a decently sharp photograph in bright sunlight, and creating a noisy mess under industrial flood lights indoors. Thankfully for Acer, no one buys a tablet for its cameras; they're just a bonus for using Skype. The case gets a bit warm to the touch, but never too hot to hold. Leaving my Nexus 4 in the sun and running GPS navigation makes that device warmer than the W3 ever got for me. This might be excusable if the device ever got cooler. It never runs cool, it's always warm. Never too warm, and not enough to be a dealbreaker. The case feels pretty solid, actually, many critical reviews pointing out the lack of flex. However, it's subtly flexible. I noticed every time I gripped the tablet from the left side I could make the LCD ripple, simply by gripping the device harder from the back. This didn't inspire a lot of faith in the durability. The rest of the case seemed nice, though. The screen picked up a lot of smudges, but the rear case didn't scratch or nick, and the buttons were clicky and responsive.The W3's greatest party trick is something only the Surface RT offers at this price point: Office 2013. I had played with the early pre-release versions of Office 2013 on the Surface RT, and wasn't thrilled. I didn't hate it, but the interface was still too keyed for a keyboard and mouse. Thankfully the full version was much more plaint, with a touch-friendly interface option enabled by default. I found Word and Excel to be quick and responsive, with viewing modes and interactivity that was clean and consistent. Formatting controls got a little wonky, but otherwise I was really quite impressed with Office '13. Given that my job often has me consulting .DOCs, spreadsheets, and PDFs, these were the parts of the W3 I liked the most, as it meant I could ditch my aging work laptop and its copy of Office for Mac '08 when walking around and working on equipment.Sadly, though, it wasn't enough for me. The lackluster performance and slow responsiveness didn't help the poor quality screen. Office was the sweetest point, but it just wasn't sweet enough.

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