To save time and space for this review, I'm assuming that you know the basics of a tablet and, in particular, the specifications for this Acer Iconia W510. My version is the 32GB one, sans the additional keyboard attachment -- in addition to 2GB of RAM and full version of Windows 8. Other specifications can be found here and here.
Contents of the packaging box were as follows:
- W510 tablet
- micro-USB to USB connector
- charging cable (proprietary)
- Instructions manual
- Backup DVD
The Acer Iconia W510 (image courtesy of Engadget)
After opening the packaging, I was immediately impressed by the size, weight, and look of the tablet. The W510 is wider and narrower than a standard iPad, but also slightly lighter. The construction material is plastic, but of a studier type and dual-toned with a "white-on-metallic silver" look. It neither looked nor felt cheap -- although perhaps also not a premium feel like the iPad. With respect to weight, it was comfortable to feel on one hand at around 1.2 lbs.
Connectivity is where the Acer W510 shines: 1 micro-USB port, 1 mini-HDMI port, a proprietary charging/connector, and microsd card slot. The inclusion of the micro-USB to USB connector makes it very easy to plug any USB devices to the tablet. In addition, the microsd card slot enables one to cheaply double the system memory to 64GB with a 32GB microsd card. Internally, there is also Bluetooth and NFC (WiFi should be assumed, and here it is the N-type variety).
The Gorilla-glass covered 10.1 inch screen has a standard resolution of 1366 x 768, which I believe gives it a dpi measure of around 150 (don't quote me on this though). To the average eye, it's a good-looking screen with a high level of brightness. Compared to a third generation iPad however, it clearly is not as sharp nor high-detailed. But I think for general purposes like reading documents and surfing the internet, the W510's display is more than adequate. At very least, it doesn't appear that Acer cheapened out on the display.
For touchscreen devices like tablets, the display is more than just for looks -- it has to perform too. After considerable time spent with it, I can happily say that the touch-sensitivity is good. I didn't experience any lag or glaring inaccuracies whether selecting or swiping on the device. The only issue I saw was when drawing on it using Sketchbook Express -- I had to keep my strokes slow as otherwise there would be skipping.
The Acer W510 is powered by Intel's new Clovertrail dual-core processor (Z2760) with its complementary video graphics cores, in addition to 2GB of RAM. Although the consensus from benchmarks out there indicate sluggish performance for the Z2760, it seemed adequate for everyday tasks from my usage. I experienced minimal lag while using a variety of apps on the Windows 8 "Metro-UI", even after having 7 apps concurrently open. The only indication of the Z2760's dearth in processing power came when operating in the "desktop" mode. But even in this latter case, it was not as glaring as feared.
The power consumption of the W510 is impressive. I was easily able to hit the 9-hour estimated battery life through a combination of app usage, video-watching, and internet browsing. Although real-world's usage may be lower than 9 hours, my experience with the device means it shouldn't deviate too much. More impressive was the fast-charging times for the device -- it took about an hour to charge 50% of of the battery.
For those interested, the overall Windows Index score for the Acer W510 was 3.4 -- with the lowest denominator being the CPU measure. The graphics was around 3.5 and the hard drive was unsurprisingly an outlier: 5.9 due to the flash-based memory.
Although I use Windows everyday, using the Acer W510 was my first experience using the Windows 8 operating system. In short, it's a mixed bag. The bad news is that even for a veteran Windows user like myself, there was a considerable learning curve -- especially with the Metro-UI. For example, there are a variety of swipe-motion gestures that one has to learn to become acclimated: one has to swipe from the top of the tablet quickly to the bottom to close an app, or swiping from the left to open the so-called "app drawer" of all open apps. In addition, the absence the classic "Start" button from the desktop mode was an inexcusable mistake made by Microsoft. This made it very hard to use the desktop mode without digging through a few layers of files. Last but not least, there is clearly a lack of available apps at the moment -- the irony of posting a picture of the tablet onto my Facebook page when there is no official Facebook app available was not lost on me.
The good news is that, as previously mentioned, performance is very good when sticking to the Metro-UI "Start Menu". Apps install quickly and are quick to open. I've become a huge fan of the native Windows 8 apps like "Finance", "Travel", and "People" as the close integration into the whole OS feels very natural -- and useful. For example, articles on "Finance" are already presented in tablet-friendly format when you click on them.
Overall, I really liked the Acer Iconia W510 -- particularly for the sale price I ordered it at $399. Even for the current price of $499, it is a good buy for all the things you get: a full-fledged Windows 8 OS, lots of connectivity options, and great build quality. You even have an option to enhance the experience by purchasing a matching keyboard plus battery dock that essentially converts the tablet into a laptop (or netbook).
At the end of the day, this device is what you make of it. If you are looking for a powerful device from which to run Microsoft Excel and perform video encoding, then this is definitely not what you are looking for. It simply does not have the graphics nor processing power. But, if you are an average user curious about the Windows 8 OS and a tablet capable of running your legacy Windows software, then you can't go wrong with this tablet. It does so much for so little a price. While its performance resembles that of a netbook (the Intel Z2760 benchmarks closely against an Intel Core 2 Duo), that comparison is unfair as it is a tablet competitively priced against the Microsoft Surface and the Apple iPad. Without a doubt, I would spend $499 on the Acer W510.