Saturday, September 6, 2014

Acer Iconia W4 Review

When deciding between tablets, the obvious choice might be an Android or an iPad. There's actually another choice. It might come as a surprise that it's a Windows tablet. I’m not talking about Windows Phone or RT but a copy of full blown Windows 8.1.  There are a few Windows tablets out in the market made by Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba. I decided to go with the Acer Iconia W4.  Aside from being one of the cheapest, it has additional unique features. Let’s list down the specs and see if I made the right decision.


-         Intel Atom Z3740 Quad-Core Processor 1.3Ghz
-         2GB RAM
-         32 OR 64GB Flash Memory
-         8 Inch IPS LCD 1280X800 Screen
-         5MP Rear and 2MP front cameras
-         WIFI B/G/N AND Bluetooth
-         Mini HDMI port
-         Micro SD expansion slot
-         4960mAh Battery
-         Windows 8.1 OS
-         Microsoft Office Student Edition 2013
-         US$199 (32GB) $250 (64GB) on Amazon
-         About Php14,000 locally for the 32GB model but comes with a free Bluetooth keyboard    case

Design and Performance:

First of all, I have to admit that among the other 8-inch Windows tablet, the Acer is not the smallest or the nicest-looking. But it does make up for it in other ways which I will get into later. However, despite being the biggest, it’s still quite compact and since most of us end up getting cases for our tablets anyway, looks don’t really matter that much when the tablet's covered up. The screen is an IPS 1280x800 resolution which is starting to show its age by 2014 standards. To be fair, all 8-inch Windows tablets in this class have the same resolution. Thankfully, it’s an IPS screen which is nice and bright with very good viewing angles which is a huge improvement over last year’s W3. Performance has also been improved by the Atom Z3740 processor which is nice and zippy with really great battery life. I’m getting about 8 plus hours. Most people ask me how the performance of the new Atom processor is, given that the first thing you think of when you mention Atom is “Netbook”. I have to say I’m really quite surprised. Especially if you stick to native Windows 8 apps, everything is quite fast and fluid. In fact, you can even do some light gaming. However, Windows 8.1 as a full tablet operating system is a whole other review all together. Let’s just say it really needs a lot of work and is quite behind iOS and Android. But like I said, stick to native Windows 8 apps then it’s really not that bad.  In fact, I was quite surprised by the number of app selections as most of the apps I regularly use are available on the Windows store.

One of the unique features of this Acer (why you would choose this over other tablets) is its mini HDMI port which allows you to connect to a TV or Monitor. Pair it up with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you’ve got yourself a desktop PC. With the free Microsoft Office that comes with it you can be very productive with this little machine. While you may be tempted to get the 32GB model, I would suggest you spend the extra cash for the 64GB as Windows takes about 15GB. Plus you have to account for the large Windows updates you’ll be doing regularly. As for the camera it’s just okay. But it's only because I’m usually less critical on tablet cameras as compared to those on a phone. I’ll still post some sample shots and you can be the judge.
Windows uses about 13GB (including Acer bloatware)

W4 vs iPad Mini

Sample photo 


This is where it gets complicated. I think an 8-inch Windows tablet targets a very specific user. If you are the person who likes to browse the web, read books, plays games then you're probably better off with an iPad or Android tablet. You will have a better experience and a wider selection of apps made specifically for tablets.

So why would you want a tablet like this? Well, if you have specific programs that only work with Windows or if you really need the full Microsoft Office then this just might be for you. This tablet only costs $199 for the 32GB version and remember it comes with a free copy of Office which itself costs $140 that means technically, you are only paying $59.  That is a fantastic value and one of the reasons I got this tablet. In fact, just to prove my point I’m writing this review on this tablet and all the way to posting which I would normally do on my laptop.

The Good:

-        Fast Processor
-        Good battery life
-         Bright IPS screen
-         Mini HDMI port
-         Free copy of Microsoft Office
-         Price

The Bad:

-         Relatively low res screen
-         Windows needs to be more tablet friendly
-         Camera
-         Soft speakers