Windows 8 tablets are a great option for those wanting portable, compact options for their computing needs. We've taken a look at the Samsung ATIV Smart PC and now we turn our sights on the Acer Iconia W510 tablet.
The Acer is a smidgen smaller than the Samsung or even the Microsoft Surface series, sporting a 10.1" CrystalBrite LED-backlit TFT LCD instead of a 11.6" screen. While the W510 may be smaller, it doesn't skimp on features. The Acer Iconia W510 is a really nice option to consider if you're in the market for a compact Windows 8 tablet at a decent price.
The tale of the tape has the Acer W510 coming in at 10.18 x 6.6 x .35 inches and weighing 1.27 pounds. The design of the W510 has a headphone jack, screen rotation lock and power button along the top of the tablet.
Your volume rocker, micro HDMI, micro USB and micro-SD card slot sit along the right side of the tablet. Speakers rest on the sides of the W510 and while volume is good, the location of the speakers isn't the best. You have a tendency to cover the speakers when you grasp the tablet, essentially muffling any hopes for good volume.
The W510 has a 2MP front facing camera and a 8MP rear facing camera. Along the bottom of the tablet is the docking ports and charging port. The Acer uses a proprietary charger and it would be really nice if tablets adapted a universal charging style like our Windows Phones have (a micro-USB charger would be really nice to have for everything).
The 10.1" screen is protected by Gorilla Glass and looks really nice. It's responsive to the touch and doesn't do a bad job of it outdoors.
Under the hood, the Acer is powered by a Intel Atom 1.8GHz processor that moves things along nicely and helps give the tablet really good battery life (about 8-9 hours). The W510 is fitted with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (there is a 64GB model). 32GB is a little on the short side but manageable, especially if you take advantage of the micro-SD card slot.
Performance wise, no complaints on the W510 when used as a tablet. It gets great battery life, runs Windows 8, has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC support.
If you want to take things a bit further, Acer offers a keyboard dock for the W510 that converts the tablet into a mini-laptop. As an additional bonus, the keyboard has a battery on board that extends the W510's battery life to about 18 hours.
The keyboard has one USB port and adds a little heft to the tablet but not enough to pull a muscle. The hinge rotates 90 degrees to allow you to prop the tablet up for watching movies or video conferencing. I prefer using it this way "tent" style but you can also lay the keyboard face down. I'm just not a fan of laying a keyboard face down on surfaces.
When docked, the W510 reminds me of the 10" netbooks that were popular a few years ago. The keyboard dock compliments the W510 nicely. My only complaint is that for me, the keyboard is a little on the small size. It would have been nice if Acer could have found a way to add a little elbow room to the keys.
Compared to the Microsoft Surface, it's hard to beat the Surface with regards to build quality and design but the Acer W510 can hold it's own. You do have a smaller screen but the Acer runs Windows 8 (when compared to the Surface RT) and costs a few hundred bucks less (when compared to the Surface Pro). What makes the Acer shine is the keyboard dock. The rigid hinge allows the W510 to perform like a laptop and the extended battery life gets you through the day easily.
I think the Acer would have been better served with a 11.6" screen which would not only give you more screen real estate, but also allow for a little more elbow room on the keyboard. While I have my reservations on the keyboard size, I will admit that every time I use the W510 the thought of replacing it with something larger fades. It's a really nice tablet.
All totaled, the Acer W510 is a really nice Windows 8 tablet. The keyboard dock is running in the neighborhood of $149 and the tablet is currently on sale for $399 here at the Microsoft Store. Other retailers (Best Buy, Amazon.com, etc.) offer the W510 in the neighborhood of $499. You can also find the tablet and keyboard dock bundled in the neighborhood of $625.