Why the Acer W700 isn’t the Windows 8 tablet you want

A customer asked me after a succesful Windows 8 migration if the new Windows 8 tablets can be a good replacement for the iPad.

The decision was made for the Acer Iconia W700 tablet. This tablet runs Windows 8 and because of this all Windows application should be able to run on this tablet.

I’m nog going to write a review or unboxing article. You can find enough of them on internet. I’m going to focus on the professional office usage.

The first thing what is noticing my attention is the professional and decent look of the tablet. Unfortunately this cannot be said about the dockingstation. Sliding the tablet in and out the dockingstation is a real hassle and took even some force to do. I asked several users to try and they didn’t dare to use the necessary force to take it out of the docking. Slide it in the docking was a hassle as well. The connectors were some millimeters different in the docking and tablet which resulted in this annoying swap procedure. A real fail IMHO.

The next issue was that the tablet needs Windows 8 Pro because they had to be able to logon a domain. Weird thing is that an upgrade of Windows XP or higher to Windows 8 Pro cost you in the Netherlands via the webshop of Microsoft € 29,95. Now I was only able to choose the Windows 8 Pro Media Pack for € 59,95 while in the US webshop you can choose to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro for $ 39,95. We only need Pro because of logon a domain and we didn’t need the media center. When starting the W700 the free disk space was 35.8 GB. After installing this update it was 35.5 GB. 300 MB so that wasn’t that bad. But 35.5 GB free for a product that markets it’s as 64GB version is a bit… disappointing. We did eventually bought the pack for € 59,95 as we need the domain feature.

Now was the time for the real testing. I have to say that the i3 did it’s work fast and the SSD was also working fast which makes the system run smoothly.

I noticed that  few times the WiFi connection was lost. I took other WiFi routers but still the wireless connection disappeared every 10-15 minutes. Not nice in a professional environment.

Speed testing showed the W700 via WiFi on www.speedtest.net doing 48 Mbit/s download and 9,8 Mbit/s upload which I rarely saw on a netbook or tablet. Only sad it isn’t stable, which is more important. You can see the potential of Windows 8 here. Running Internet Explorer with Adobe Flash on website running smoothly was impressive.

At the moment the W700 was in the domain I was unable to run Acer Ring, it stops with an error. Pitty. I think something to do with permissions. Internet Explorer also closed 2 times with an error while working.

Not really a stable system if you are asking me. I believe that this can be solved by fine tuning the system and eventually upgrading some drivers.

The things which cannot be neglected are the design limitations. I don’t want to call it design mistakes but surely Acer didn’t think about this serious. How can it happen I have this issues after working with the W700 after a few hours. Don’t they test their products by normal users? Also those review sites lack this IMHO. Are the people afraid to give honest reviews nowadays?

The dockingstation issue gave some irritation when you want the W700 often to on the road. Even worse are the fans. On the internet a lot of reviewers wrote they weren’t noticeable. I think those people are deaf. The noise was giving me a flashback on the notebook of 5 years ago. Reading quitly a book isn’t an options with this annoying noise. Even not when I choose the energy profile energy saving. Than I noticed the worst issue…. When you use the W700 in portrait mode you holding the tablet with both hands and your right hand is blocking 1 fan which you will notice fast by getting really warm soon, within 5 minutes working. Not handy when reading a book. A real fail.

During testing the connection failed several times so I was considering a negative advice. This would give a lot of misery in words of supporting this device.

When the network disappeared and the icons on the desktop as result the only solution you have to get back your icons is pressing F5 (refresh).

I’ve searched and searched but was not able to find functions keys on the soft keyboard on the tablet. I had to fall back to the supplied Acer bluetooth keyboard which is working well. But I had to think immediately that it was mandatory to be able to working mobile with the Acer W700. (update: I found a setting to enable the function keys, hidden in settings, normal users are not able to find this easily. Google results with solutions now appear online).

I was now sure. I didn’t want to burn my fingers on this baby. The user had to live with compromises, lot’s of them. The iPad is for now the most stable solution.

I said I will give it another chance soon. Microsoft Surface Pro will be released in januari 2013. Maybe it’s all better made than at Acer. We will see.