Hands-on: Acer Iconia W3 review

With the Iconia W3, its new 8.1-inch Windows 8 tablet, Acer is hoping to put a fully-functioning desktop in the palm of your hand and wipe out the need for the iPad mini or Nexus 7 at the same time. It seems it might well have achieved exactly that.

The Iconia W3 comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student, boasts 2GB of RAM on the Intel Clovertrail architecture and offers either 32 or 64GB of storage.  

But where it really shines is in the portability/ practicality angle. The Iconica W3 comes complete with a non-fuss keyboard: simply pop the tablet into the rubber well and you’re good to go. No faffing with clicking it into place, you can fire off that email on a nicely responsive full-sized chiclet keyboard that sticks out either side of the screen rather than cramping your style.

When it comes to carrying the tablet around you can simply flip the keyboard over to reveal a dock on the reverse. The tablet goes face down into the space and is held securely, protecting the screen while safely stashed away. It could easily be tossed into a bag without further protection and the screen is completely shielded from being damaged along the way.

READ: Windows 8.1 release date and what you need to know to get ready

Releasing the tablet is a two handed job, but not particularly cumbersome. The tablet doesn't auto-hibernate upon being docked in the back, which could be a problem if you forget to do it before shoving it in your bag for a couple of hours. 

The touchscreen display is nice and clear with a 1200 x 800 resolution and a 5-point multi-touch sensor. There’s a 2MP camera on both the front and the rear - who takes photos with tablets anyway (don't answer that) and the video function includes a 3-2-1 countdown function and can be adjusted to run in high resolution.

The smooth contours make this pleasant to hold in the hand and at just 540g plus the nifty keyboard solution this really is an exceptionally portable and compact device.

Although we weren't able to push the device to do anything "heavy", a quick play with the tablet proved enjoyable. The device was responsive, and we were more than happy with the performance in our quick play. We are going to hold out judgement until we get a unit for a full review, but things look positive. 

The Iconia W3 should be available from early this month in various places around the UK. So if you’re looking for a super-lightweight device that can handle Office-style tasks, run all your apps and yet still give you a "tablet" experience then the Iconia W3 is definitely worth checking out.