Acer Tab 8W hands on
Budget tablets no longer mean Android alone: with the £119 Acer Tab 8W, Windows 8.1 will become a viable choice. Available in November, it’s a very interesting device. See also: what’s the best tablet 2014?
It’s an interesting device because compact budget Windows 8.1 tablets haven’t, until now, been an option. What’s more, the specs tucked inside the Acer Tab 8W are more than reasonable for such a well-priced device.
You get a very generous 32GB storage, accompanied by a microSD slot that lets you boost the capacity by a further 32GB. The Intel quad-core Atom Z3735G processor gives it ample zip too. (Acer claims the device has an eight-hour battery life, but we don’t yet know the battery capacity.)
From our time with the device at IFA, we found it acceptable to use when flicking around the homescreen, opening apps and for light web browsing. It wasn’t lightning fast, nothing like the Dell Venue 8 Android tablet we recently reviewed, but nor was it frustratingly slow.
It’s too early to give our definitive verdict on the 8in IPS panel – we’ll have to wait until the Tab is in our Labs for the full test – but on first glance the 1,280 x 800 screen looks more than respectable. The same can be said for the two front and rear-facing 2-megapixel cameras.
The forte for this tablet, however, is its looks. While it’s hard to get excited about compact tablets right now – there are just too many of them – the combination of the Windows 8.1 OS with the Tab 8W’s sleek white bezel make this a device you won’t be ashamed to pull out of your bag or leave lying around you chic living room.
The bigger question is who will buy this tablet, and what they might use it for.
It’s not a viable option for people to replace their laptops with, nor could you wish to do any serious work with it, yet it comes with a free one-year Office 365 subscription.
For example, entering text into a Word 2013 doc (Office 2013 is part of the Office 365 deal) proved a painful experience due to the size of the screen; we’d recommend you buy a Bluetooth keyboard should you want to attempt any serious work.
But this pushes up the price and raises the question: why would someone buy the Tab 8W over an Android tablet with similar specs, performance, and a lot more apps?
The device itself has good but not amazing dimensions, measuring in at 128 x 214 x 9.75mm and weighing 370g – to put that into perspective it’s 0.14 x 0.14 x 1.1mm bigger than the much-loved Nexus 7 (2013). All in all, it’s a sensible size.
Acer Tab 8W: verdict
For £119, you’re getting a tablet that is pretty slick and snappy to use, looks great, and comes with one year’s free subscription to Office 365.
Exactly who is going to buy this tablet is what puzzles us the most. It’s not a good fit for those looking to work, or those searching for an entertainment device; which leaves everyone in the middle… and we’re not yet convinced it’s right for them either.