Windows in One Hand – the Acer Iconia W3 [Video]

At their Computex press conference in Taipei today, Acer showed off what they’re (very) proud to call a first – the first device that puts the full Windows 8 operating system into a device that can be held in one hand. It’s called the Iconia W3 tablet.

The Iconia W3 is an 8.1” tablet with a 1280 x 800 display, which is not IPS and lacks Gorilla Glass, probably out of pricing concerns. It’ll run on an Intel Atom Z2760 processor with 2 GB of RAM, and will come in 32 GB and 64 GB models. The front camera is also lackluster, at 2 MP, but then again, tablets aren’t exactly known as great choices for picture-taking, anyway. More importantly, the front-facing offering is an identical 2 MP camera. Around the edges, there’s a headphone jack, a couple of small external speakers, one micro USB port, micro HDMI out, and a micro SD card slot for expandable storage (up to 32 GB). Battery life is put at about eight hours, and there will be no 3G/4G/LTE models available – Wi-Fi only.

A full-on Windows 8 device that fits in your hand is nice, but if you’re going to get the most out of any non-mobile operating system, you need a keyboard. The Iconia W3 has one – a detachable keyboard that connects to the tablet via Bluetooth and a small, non-magnetic slot. The keyboard has a bigger body than the tablet, with a size fit for a notebook between 11” and 13”. That’s great, because an 8” keyboard would probably be less than stellar in practice. Acer didn’t let the extra space that resulted totally go to waste – the underside of the keyboard acts as a cover for the tablet. The tablet can be snapped in place and removed easily, and you can see the process in the two videos below.

As an extra software bonus (that you see less often than you’d probably like), Microsoft Office Home & Student is included with the Iconia W3 for no extra cost.

Running multiple windows (using Windows 8 like you would on a notebook, more or less) worked well on the W3, and the display quality, while maybe not impressive anymore, is good enough for the price point, which we’ll get to in a bit (it’s reasonable). On the subject of low price, the tablet also lacks the sturdier metals going into a lot of devices now, opting for plastic. But, hey, it does what you want, and it’ll keep working for a while as long as you don’t drop it. If you’re interested in this pricing tier, that might well be good enough. The keyboard case locking mechanism, for its part, feels sturdy enough. Hopefully that lasts after months of use, but at least in the early going, it should hang onto your W3 nicely. All in all, it’s a simple enough device to peg – it’s a Windows 8 device that you can palm. Just from that, you probably already know whether or not you’re interested.

A lot of prices were thrown around the demo floor by different Acer representatives, but it seems like the price range will be from $379 to perhaps as much as $700 or $750, depending on how much storage you want and whether or not you grab the keyboard. That said, Acer representatives were keen to point out that these details will vary by region, and some regions may not have the option to purchase the W3 without the keyboard. We’ll find out soon enough – by all accounts, the Acer Iconia W3 should show up in stores later this month.