Mossberg rips Acer’s iPad Mini challenger the Iconia W3

by David Needle

July 23 2013

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). 

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  • David Needle
    1 year 4 months ago
    Onlinejfk --A big thank you for that, and apologies for the error which has been corrected in the article. I misread what Walt said about it having the same limited edition of Office as the one in Surface RT to mean it was a truncated version of Office, but I think he just meant it was a version for tablets. The article has been corrected to say a full version of Office is included. ---David
  • onlinejfk
    1 year 4 months ago

    Hi Dave: While I generally agree with your (and Walt's) assessment of the W3 (a promising device cut down with a terrible screen), your last paragraph is incorrect.
    The W3 sports a full W8 OS, not a truncated RT version!
    Here's Walt's quote:
    "It runs the full version of W8, so in addition to tablet apps, it can be switched to the traditional Windows desktop, where you can install and run most programs that work on Windows 7. The most important of these, Microsoft Office, is included in the price, though in a version that omits Outlook. Office, which must be installed manually using a free activation code, worked fine in my tests."
    Bottom line, although seriously flawed, the W3 may fill a "use need" for those who need a full W8 OS in a very portable form factor.

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