Acer Iconia W3

Today at Build, Microsoft handed out a few thousand Iconia W3s to the attendees. For those of you don’t know, the Iconia W3 is Acer’s first attempt at an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet running with an Intel Atom processor.

Is it good, bad, somewhere in between? We’re not a 100% sure yet but we do like playing around with it a whole lot. Head past the break for our hands on video and some impressions!

To refresh on the all the specs of this little bad boy: the tablet weighs 1.10 pounds, is .45 inches thin, sports a 1200 x 800 8.1 inch LCD display, 32 or 64 GB of memory, and is powered by an Intel Atom Clover Trail CPU.

Acer Iconia W3 tablet laying down

Truth be told, the display is a bit “meh”. By that sophisticated description we’re referring to the lack of an IPS display, making this straight up LCD, which seems like something from 2010 rather than 2013. Of course, it was done to keep the price down and like all displays, once you use it for a few minutes your mind kind of forgets. But on first loading, Sam Sabri and I each thought something was wrong with our screens.

Guess we’re spoiled.

Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet

Device performance is what you can expect from an Intel Atom: it rocks for Windows 8 Start screen apps, but lags a bit when you run full desktop apps (this is full Windows 8, after all). But what option would you rather have? A somewhat sluggish desktop experience or no choice in the matter? Because of that we prefer Atom processors over ARM, though we hope to revisit that issue later this year.

Biggest surprise? The speakers. Located at the bottom of the device, when held vertically, they’re surprisingly loud and sound a lot better than you’d expect. Cameras, on the other hand, are a bit muddy. The W3 features both 2.1MP front and rear cameras, which is probably done once again to cut costs.

Acer Iconia W3 with Windows 8

Having said that, we see a real opportunity for some OEM (cough, Nokia, cough) to make an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet with stellar front and rear cameras, because this size device lends itself to Skype and even general photo taking.

We’ll do a follow up in a few days from Sam and me on the Iconia W3. It’s not a perfect device and it’s really the tip of the iceberg for what’s coming in this range—but it is quite compelling to use and is keeping us entertained. For $379 (32GB version) it will certainly raise some eyebrows.