# Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Acer Iconia W7 is one of the numerous slate form factor designed for Windows 8 PCs that launched along side Windows 8

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It might look like a normal tablet, but it is actually a PC and in the world of PCs its all about having the ability to choose what kind of PC best suits your needs, and the W7 does offer some interesting features.

First of all the W7 is a monster of a tablet, it's hard to tell from stand alone shots but this thing has a 11.6" 16:9 screen, so it's a very tall slab.

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The screen is a 1920x1080 IPS screen, so you get your HD resolution AND a bright vibrant screen to go with it.

You get all the usual buttons on each side of the device, power and volume controls on the right followed by the audio out jack

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A rotation lock toggle switch on the top, along with the ventilation grills.

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Note that this is actually a toggle button because this allows Windows 8 the flexibility of controlling screen rotation via physical (the toggle button) or through software (via the charms bar in Windows 8)

There are actually two sets of grills which run along the top.

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The left side has your Mini HDMI port, one sweet USB 3.0 port and the power port.

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And at the bottom you find the two speaker grills.

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The speakers actually sound quite good and can be pretty loud, don't think it'd pass the chinese dinner test though. Smile with tongue out

The W7 comes with a dock

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One nice thing about the stand is that it serves as a USB 3.0 Hub, giving you 3 USB 3.0 ports when docked in the stand,

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To charge the system in the stand you'll need to plug the power adapter into the stand.

The first thing that isn't so good about the dock is that aside from the protruding USB and power plugs

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There's no real guide to help the W7 plug into the dock, eventually I got familiar enough with the process so that I wouldn't have to fumble with it much to plug it in.

Another quirk about the dock is how it 'transforms' into portrait mode. It actually doesn't, you basically have to rearrange the support plate for the dock into another groove to make it stand in portrait orientation.

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While this works, the fact that the support plate cannot be flattened means you probably would be taking this around with you much. I guess there's not much reason to do so anyway considering that it's just a glorified USB 3.0 hub. Smile with tongue out

For means of protecting the W7 when you're moving around, Acer was nice enough to provide this folio case with it. (The sales people say that it's a special deal but considering that the folio case fit in the actual packaging I kinda doubt that)

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The folio can do the usual tricks such as stand up so you can watch movies

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or slightly nudge it up so you can type on the W7 better

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So.. that pretty much sums up the physical aspects of the W7, how well does it work as a PC then? The W7 packs an Intel Core i3 1.4Ghz processor and 4GB of memory, which means that it can pretty much handle any routine PC task you can throw at it. The use of the standard Intel integrated display means that you're probably not going to be playing Diablo 3 in full res on this thing.

There is one critical flaw with the W7 though, the WiFi performance is abysmal!! I don't know wheter this is caused by the Atheros AR5BMD222 they decided to put in the W7, or wheter it's because of the aluminum body that's causing wifi issues but the W7 has very weak signal reception and also is prone to 'hiccup' on occasion, requiring me to disconnect and reconnect back to my AP to fix it.

The Final Word

In summary, the Acer Iconia W7 is a big 11.6" tablet, is abit hefty at 950 grams when you compare it to other tablets, and the fact that it uses a Core i3 means that it gets a bit toasty if the CPU gets loaded.

That said, it has a BEAUTIFUL screen, and that i3 processor means you'd never have to ask yourself if you'd be able to watch that HD video or not. In fact I wouldn't stop anyone from getting it...

If it wasn't for the damn WiFi issue, a driver update *might* fix it in the future but that's of course an uncertainty, and of course.. being a PC, you could just plug in a better USB WiFi adapter, but that's kinda inconvenient actually. This is actually the SECOND time I've seen performance issues with an Atheros WiFi adapter, kinda makes me abit cautious towards them from now on.

UPDATE 30th November 2012: An updated Wifi Driver WAS issued, you can nab it here. After running this for 2 days, it seems to have solved the INSTABILITY of the Atheros WiFi so it doesn't disconnect like crazy anymore. But signal strength is still relatively weak, but I guess that's what is expected when you have a metal body and only a strip of plastic on the top for the antennae. It might also depend on wheter or not you're holding it wrong. Smile with tongue out

So, the W7 is a great Windows 8 tablet if you can accept the gimpy WiFi capabilities.


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