One of the early criticisms of Windows 8 tablets was their expense. Sure you got more storage and some other features not available on the iPad, but many analysts thought it was a mistake for Microsoft and its hardware partners not to be more price competitive with Apple's best-selling tablet.
That has all changed recently. Stuck with millions in inventory, Microsoft recently dropped the price of its Surface RT tablet from $499 down to $349. Other Windows tablet makers have also been dropping prices.
The Wall Street Journal's veteran technology expert Walt Mossberg weighed in today on one such iPad challenger, the new Acer Iconia W3.
Unlike most Windows tablets that have screens bigger than the iPad’s 9.7-inch display, the Iconia W3 is one of the new generation of smaller Windows tablets with an 8.1-inch display.
Taking on the iPad Mini
At that size and a recent price reduction to $300, the Iconia W3 competes more directly with the iPad Mini which has a 7.9-inch screen and sells for $329.
But Mossberg says Apple has nothing to worry about:
"Overall, I found it to be no match for the iPad Mini. Compared with the smallest iPad, the Acer features cheaper, bulkier construction; a worse-looking, slower-responding screen; significantly less battery life; and drastically worse cameras. And its Wi-Fi only, with no cellular data option.”
Ouch. And it doesn't get any better:
"Plus, like all Windows 8 computers, it's burdened by a paucity of tablet-style apps and a dual interface that is best used with touch in one mode, and with a keyboard (which costs extra) in the other.
Mossberg notes a few positive things aspects of the Aconia W3, but even that comes with plenty of qualification.
For example, he notes that unlike the iPad, the Aconia W3 has a USB port and an HDMI port for exporting video to a TV over a cable. The downside? These are mini ports, which require adapters and cables that aren't included. It also has a memory-card slot that can add up to 32 GB of memory with an optional card.
Microsoft Office included
On the plus side, the Aconia W3 includes the full version of Microsoft Office (except for Outlook). CORRECTION: An earlier verison of this story incorreclty stated the Aconia W3 did not include a full version of Office. TabTimes apologizes for that error).