[sc:hardware-category ]My ASUS VivoTab Smart has been my workhorse tablet at home since I picked it up, but the other day I came home and found a giant crack across the screen.
Now the ASUS was clearly a low-end unit and there was quite a bit of flex in the chassis so I wasn’t really all that surprised by the crack but it did leave me a dilemma. What was I going to get to replace it?
My first thought went straight to the Acer Iconia W3. The 10.1 inch display on the ASUS was just too big for my normal usage of a tablet and the W3’s 8.1 inch display interested me quite a bit.
I picked up a good deal on a base unit ($299) with 32g of storage and the first thing I noticed about the unit was how much more of a premium build it was over the ASUS. The W3 feels “dense” and solidly built. It is a little heavy for a small device but not unwieldy by any means. The unit comes with Windows Home and Office Home so it has pretty much everything a normal user might need right out of the box.
I have to say the screen size is just about perfect. Small enough to be easy to carry around but still usable for browsing and running apps. Overall I think the 8 inch size might be perfect. I would like to see a 9 inch tablet though, just to compare it with.
Battery life seems to be significantly above the 8 hours quoted which is nice.
One really nice feature is the physical Windows key on the unit. The ASUS had a capacitive button that wasn’t very good, it was often hard to tell if you had hit it. The physical button on the Acer removes any doubt.
The only downside to the Acer is the display, 1280×800 is ok but not great, but it just doesn’t look very good. On some solid fill colors there is also a slight, but noticeable, flicker to the display. I had read a few reviews of the unit which mentioned the display problems so I wasn’t surprised, but Acer usually does a better job than this and in comparison to the rest of the unit it just seems out of place.
So far it’s a great piece of hardware and I look forward to seeing Windows 8.1 on it. It will be interesting to see the next generation of 8″ devices to see how much smaller and lighter they can go.