Review Price £499.00
Acer Iconia W510 - Design, Connectivity and Keyboard Dock
As the world’s fourth-largest laptop and PC manufacturer (depending on which stats you look at), Acer wasn’t going to be left behind in the Windows 8 convertible tablet race.
Competing with the 11.6-inch Asus Vivo Tab and Samsung Ativ Smart PC, the 10-inch Acer Iconia W510 is a ‘proper’ Windows 8 tablet/laptop hybrid that can run much of your legacy software, provides a multi-touch IPS screen, throws in a keyboard dock that also extends connectivity and battery life, and will last up to 18hrs on a charge according to Acer. As the sequel to the rather mediocre Iconia Tab W500, can its successor take on the best of the rest?
Acer Iconia W510 Design and BuildFirst impressions of the W510 are certainly positive. Though the entire unit is made out of plastic, its matt silver finish gives it an attractive look that’s further enhanced by sleek, edgy lines. That matt finish also provides a good grip, if not on a level with soft-touch, and doesn’t show off fingerprints.
The Iconia W510 is a ‘squarer’ tablet than most, lacking prominent curves and tapering edges, but – like the Microsoft Surface - this sets it apart in a good way. Build quality is also great, though the keyboard dock doesn’t feel quite as solid as the tablet.
One of the best things about the W510’s docked design is that Acer takes things a step further than rivals. Where they only let you turn their tablets into ‘laptops’, the Iconia W510 takes a leaf from the Lenovo Yoga in letting you twist the base all the way round so that the keyboard is on the outside at the ‘tablet’s’ rear.
This is great when using the base as a stand on a cramped train/bus table where you may not have room to put the tab into traditional ‘laptop mode’. The other area where the W510 trumps the Asus Vivo Tab and Samsung Ativ Smart PC is that it’s almost impossible to tip it over backwards by accident.
Because it’s a 10-inch tablet where its non-RT rivals are nearly 12 inches, this Acer Iconia is one of the lightest Windows 8 convertibles you can buy. It weighs a mere 570g, which is lighter than an iPad 4.
Acer Iconia W510 Connectivity and ButtonsSamsung is still the only one of the big players to offer a 3G convertible Win8 Atom tab, with the Vivo and Iconia remaining Wi-Fi only. Otherwise the W510 is well-connected, especially when docked. On the left of the keyboard dock you’ll find a proprietary charging port, while on the top of the tablet there’s a headphone/microphone jack, rotation lock and power button.
Most of the action is around to the left, where we have a crisp volume rocker, microHDMI, microUSB and microSD, along with a full-size USB connector on the keyboard dock. Naturally Bluetooth and NFC are present on the wireless side of things.
Acer Iconia W510 Keyboard Dock and TypingAs already mentioned, the Iconia W510’s keyboard dock is well-built and sports a very flexible hinge mechanism. Thankfully, it’s still really easy to ‘undock’ the tablet: rather than the Asus Vivo Tab’s slightly awkward side-mounted button which requires two hands to decouple the tablet, on the Acer it’s as simply as the pioneering Asus Transformer.
We’re a tad disappointed that Acer’s dock only offers a single USB port in addition to the tablet’s own connectivity, but that’s hardly a major issue. The dock does have a built-in battery equal to the one found in the tablet, effectively doubling the W510’s battery life when docked.
As to the dock’s chiclet keyboard, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The keys offer nice action with a decent amount of travel but they’re a little on the small side and layout isn’t great, especially if you’re a right-shifter like yours truly. However, this also holds true for most other 10-inch Windows 8 tablets – don’t forget that many rivals are actually 11.6-inch models which offer more room for a keyboard but also up the weight.
We have no complaints about the touchpad however. It’s smooth and responsive, and its integrated buttons offer a solid click with no annoying dead zone.