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Hands-on review: CES 2014: Acer Iconia W4

         

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Acer Iconia W4

Acer has been displaying off its subsequent-gen eight.1-inch Windows 8.1 tablet, the W4, here at CES 2014, although we have been aware it has been coming for a few weeks.

Although very similar in appearance to the proceeding Iconia W3, the innards have been given a complete overhaul with Intel’s new-ish Bay Trail Atom chips.

The Acer Iconia W4 release date is late January starting at €299 (around £247/US$407/AUS$452).

Acer Iconia W4

8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets are increasing in number, but it’s still a trickle rather than a torrent, with the W4 joining the Dell Venue Pro 8 and the Toshiba Encore on the shelves.

The Bay Trail Atom featured here is a 1.8GHz version and we can well believe it lasts the cited 10 hours of use on a single charge. That follows on from the impressive most-of-the-day battery life posted by the preceding W3.

Acer Iconia W4

But the trade-off there is performance and the W4 is similar to the other Bay Trail tablets we’ve experienced. While many apps run fine, the experience is compromised when you try and do anything processor intensive.

So things you might take for granted, such as Windows updates and copying files suddenly become somewhat of a chore, though it’s reasonable to ask whether you’d actually use a device like this as your main PC rather than a companion device. I certainly don’t think it’s the do anything tablet that Atom devices are now being touted as.

Acer Iconia W4

As you can see, there are stereo speakers on the base of the device, with a micro USB charging port in addition to the expected headphone jack.

The Iconia also features a micro SD slot as well as micro HDMI. That’s also a volume rocker you can see.

Acer Iconia W4

The Windows Start button is very similar to that we saw on the W3 and is a nice tactile way to access the Start Screen. It’s a lot better than many of the touch Start buttons around.

The device has a nice feel about it and, while it isn’t as thin as a currrent generation iPad, the 415g weight ensures it feels good in the hand.

Acer Iconia W4

The W4 makes for quite a pleasant reading device and it feels nicely slim (5.3mm) in the hand. It certainly feels similar to its Dell and Toshiba rivals.

InstantGo tech keeps your apps updated even when the screen is off, so they’ll be up-to-date when you decide to switch on and go again.

Acer Iconia W4

As with the W3, the Iconia W4 comes Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 pre-installed while, naturally, you can access all the Windows Store apps you should want to.

This version of Office includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so not Outlook unfortunately.

The screen is now a 1,280 x 800 resolution IPS unit and is a drastic improvement over the W3, which was beset with display issues and really wasn’t up to snuff. The viewing angles on the new 16:10 display are excellent (up to 170 degrees Acer claims).

There’s also something called Zero Air Gap technology. Acer has designed the W4 to remove the air between the touch panel and LCD module, which is says helps to reduce reflection and boosting readability even under sunlight.

Acer Iconia W4

The Iconia W4 ships with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, and supports an additional 32GB of storage capacity via the microSD. You also get a 2MP 1080p front camera, and a 5MP rear camera with autofocus. .

The W4 also arrives with a dedicated keyboard accessory, known as the Acer Crunch Keyboard. It’s made from leather, measures 5.33mm thick and folds out to be used as a stand. It connects to your device via Bluetooth 3.0 and is rechargable via micro-USB.

Acer Iconia W4

There’s also a Crunch Cover that can be folded in multiple angles. The accessory line-up is rounded off by the Power Bank, adding extra battery life to your W4 (around four hours).

Acer Iconia W4

Early verdict

The Acer Iconia W4 is excellent for the low price point, but it still offers somewhat of a compromised PC experience. We think it’s impossible to use this as a PC you need to depend on full-time. Atom chips just don’t have the power many people expect, even if they are really very capable of running standard Windows Store and basic desktop apps.