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Is it a laptop or a tablet? Thanks to the completely re-imagined Windows 8 operating system and increasingly smaller and more powerful hardware, that distinction is starting to lose meaning.
Drawing on their experience in producing solid laptops, Acer’s new Iconia W700 has put them at the cutting edge of the blurring line between categories. It’s big and it’s plenty powerful, and a pairing with the mobile-centric Windows 8 design strives to bring together the best of both worlds.
But does it succeed?
At 11.75 by 7.75 by 0.47 inches, the Iconia W700 is a little bit bulky for a tablet. It’s got a solid, well-constructed feel, and it’s comfortable enough during two-hand operation, but its size can cause some problems during one-hand use.
Iconia W700 is light in comparison to most Ultrabooks, but with its 2.09-pounds (0.95 kg), is among the chunkier tablets on the market. Wherever a flat surface is available, the docking cradle and adjustable kickstand partly resolve the Iconia’s weight issue.
However, the cradles with kickstand present its own problems, as the cradle design makes it easy to insert improperly. It’s a bit frustrating for an otherwise well-built machine.
The Iconia W700 has a somewhat unique layout as compared to most tablets. The top sports two fan vents and a lock switch, while the power button is moved to the top right corner. Immediately under the power button is the volume rocker and headphone jack.
There are two speakers on the bottom, and along the right side are a mini-HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port and a power jack. While connected to the dock, the one USB port is transformed into a three-port hub for more connectivity options.
A Windows button is found on the bottom face of the tablet, used for switching between Metro and Desktop modes. On the back is a 5-megapixel camera capable of 1080p video, though the quality leaves much to be desired. The front-facing camera comes in at 1.3 megapixels with 720p video, but again the quality was average at best.
The panel’s brightness is capable of 350 nits, which is more than enough for most situations. Colors are sufficiently colorful, the contrast is pleasantly popping and the whole package works well for nearly any use. Of course, this ultra resolution does present a few problems. The tablet-sized display leads to text that’s sometimes too small to read if left un-zoomed, and manipulating tiny boxes and other controls via touch input can get hairy.
The lack of an included mouse or trackpad only exacerbates this particular problem.
Under the Hood
Although that gorgeous Gorilla Glass-coated panel is an attention-grabber, the real star of the show lies underneath it.
The scorching fast Intel Core i5 processor, running at a brisk 1.7-gigahertz, is paired with four gigabytes of RAM and a 128-gigabyte Toshiba solid-state drive. There’s no question the Iconia W700 is built for performance, and perform it does.
Its performance excels versus most tablets, and it’s on par with the average Ultrabook as well. Compared to Atom-based Windows 8 platforms like the Samsung ATIV Smart PC, the Iconia performs better by leaps and bounds.
Tablet Comparison Roundup
Two of the more popular alternatives to the Iconia W700 are the Samsung ATIV Smart PC and Acer’s own Iconia W510. The W700 stands tall in regard to performance, and it’s hard to beat the extreme detail of the vivid, bright 1080p panel.
The Iconia W510 offers a similarly great display and only moderately diminished performance in a substantially more comfortable form factor as compared to the W700. The Samsung ATIV Smart PC can’t match up head-on with the Acer W700’s hardware, but its performance isn’t overwhelmingly poor by comparison.
In terms of performance and display resolution, its alternative and direct competitor is Samsung’s Ativ Smart PC Pro tablet.
Customer impressions for the Acer Iconia W700 have been varied. The full Windows 8 experience is a huge draw, and the impressive performance is one of the W700’s biggest assets. Battery life is unexpectedly generous as well, especially considering the beefy hardware.
The bulky size and weight is a disappointment for those who desire high portability. The litany of included parts and add-ons (docking cradle with kickstand and Bluetooth keyboard) can make traveling with the tablet a difficult proposition.
It isn’t for everyone, and the Iconia W510 model may be a better choice where portability and ease of use are primary considerations. But for users who want the full laptop experience in a form that mostly resembles a tablet, the Acer W700 is a viable choice.