Acer Iconia W510 first impressions

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I’ve written a lot about the Windows 8 operating system and Windows RT tablets over the last few months – for more details, see my reviews of Windows 8, the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, and the ASUS VivoTab RT – but I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with a Windows 8 tablet running a traditional Intel processor. Unlike the ARM processors found in the Surface RT and VivoTab RT, the Iconia’s Intel Atom Clover Trail processor allows the device to run traditional desktop applications without sacrificing the battery life or form factor.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be comparing and contrasting the two types of processors and documenting my experiences. Unfortunately, the Iconia W510 did not come with a keyboard dock, so it might be more difficult to compare actual productivity. I am, however, considering picking one up.

My initial impressions of the device are mixed. On the one hand, I love being able to install Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013 and other desktop applications on a tablet. Last weekend, while recording my regular weekly podcast, I was forced to ask a fellow host to record the episode, since I was out of town and only had my Surface. If I’d had the Iconia W510 with me, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I don’t need to use desktop applications all the time, but they’re still very handy to have around. And installing the SkyDrive for Windows desktop application makes things even more convenient. Of course, the fact that the device is running Windows 8, rather than Windows RT, means that it doesn’t come bundled with a copy of Microsoft Office. As a result, you’ll need to purchase, download, and install it yourself. It actually felt strange to use a Windows tablet that didn’t come with Office.

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Sadly, the Iconia W510 suffers from the same problem that has plagued most Windows PCs for years – crapware. In fact, it’s riddled with it. My first act upon setting up the device was to go through and uninstall the 36 different apps, desktop applications, and pinned sites that Acer was paid to have preinstalled. This is in stark contrast to the Surface, which only came with the standard Windows 8 apps, and the VivoTab, which included just a handful of preinstalled apps and pinned sites. In an attempt to make the desktop more touch-friendly, Acer also bumped up the zoom to 125%. I’m not a fan of this personally, as makes everything seem more bloated, so I quickly returned it to the standard 100% setting.

The hardware itself feels pretty nice and sturdy, although the back near the NFC plate does feel a bit warm to the touch on occasion. While Windows RT tablets usually feel very responsive, this one seems even more so; especially in apps which sometimes take a while to load. The same, however, can not be said for the Start button, which requires me to press down harder and for a longer duration than I’m used to. Lastly, the screen looks pretty good, albeit a bit high on the contrast side. The display on my particular model appears to have a small imperfection on the right side of the screen, but I am hopeful that this issue will be resolved soon.

I plan on using the device for a while before writing my full review, but I’m pretty happy with the Acer Iconia W510 so far. While the initial out-of-the-box experience was somewhat annoying – due in large part to the crapware – the actual hardware and performance appears to be pretty good. I’m looking forward to being able to use desktop applications like Outlook and Photoshop on my new Windows 8 tablet.

The Acer Iconia W510 tablet was provided to me, by Intel, as part of the company’s #TabletCrew program.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/ Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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