Acer Iconia W511 Review
The versatile Windows 8 Pro comes loaded on the Acer Iconia W511 – an operating system that's built to run not only on tablets, but on laptops and desktop computers as well. The OS is compatible with a vast array of legacy Windows applications, which is a huge benefit.
When the Acer Iconia W511 is turned on for the first time, about 10 minutes are needed for it to get set up for use. It is nice to see that a tutorial is played after the OS' first boot, explaining all the new touchscreen gestures implemented in Windows 8 – new users are advised to pay attention to it.
Once past that step, the user is introduced to the new Start screen and its Live Tile interface. This is where things get tricky for anyone who is not familiar with Windows 8 and its peculiarities. Closing apps, switching between windows, accessing the list of installed applications and the system settings – there are gestures assigned to each of these actions, so better get used to them. Even a tech-savvy user will need to spend an evening or two with their new device in order to get comfortable with its interface.
But the Start screen and its Live Tiles aren't the only way of interacting with the Acer Iconia W511. Alternatively, the classic Windows desktop can be used as it is available at the touch of a button. That isn't of much use, however, unless you're also using the keyboard dock, or a mouse. The classic desktop is anything but comfortable to use on a touchscreen with its tiny icons and menus.
The on-screen keyboard is usable indeed, save for the annoying fact that it doesn't always pop-up automatically when it's needed. With its multiple key arrangements, it can be used as a typical virtual QWERTY, occupying the bottom half of the screen, or in split mode, which is comfortable for typing whilst holding the tablet with both hands. In addition, typos get corrected automatically.
Note: Our Acer Iconia W511 unit crashed a couple of times during testing. Furthermore, we experienced troubles with its audio system and camera application. Stability improved, however, after we installed a software update provided by Acer.
Software and functionality:
There's a long list of new features that are being introduced with Windows 8, and on it are the new hubs and apps accessible from the Start screen. The People hub, for example, is where you store information about your contacts. All of that data is synced with your Microsoft account, which is convenient since you'll have it backed up indefinitely. Also, by adding your Facebook and Twitter credentials, you can connect with your social network buddies as well. Too bad that the experience is a far cry from what a dedicated social networking client would deliver as the hub's functionality is limited only to some basic actions.
The stock Weather application is great as it provides detailed forecast information, not to mention that its interface is very pleasing to the eye. As one might expect, you can set it to pull weather data for multiple locations and its live tile updates automatically.
Keeping you up to date with the latest news from around the world is the Bing News app. There's also Bing Sports bringing you news about, well, sports, and the dedicated Bing search app that tells you what search terms are currently trending.
Processor and memory:
What runs under the hood of the Acer Iconia W511 is a dual-core Intel Atom chip – the Z2760 with a maximum clock of 1.8GHz when Burst mode is enabled. That happens automatically, whenever an app requires additional processing power, but only if the processor is running within its thermal specifications. 2GB of DDR2 RAM are also on board – just as much as we'd expect seeing on a machine of this caliber.
Performance-wise, the tablet runs well, as long as it isn't burdened with any heavy apps. Chances are that you'll rarely encounter any major hiccups if you stick to the Start screen and its apps, while many legacy applications will be feeling right at home in Desktop mode. Just don't expect any resource-hungry software like graphics or video editors to run smoothly. For that you'll need something powered by a Core processor.
The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator is powerful enough to run some basic games. We tested several popular titles from the Windows Marketplace, including a 3D strategy game, and it ran at high frame rates. Graphic-intensive games, however, are a no-go.
The Acer Iconia W511 comes with 64GB of on-board storage, but since half of that is occupied by the operating system and its recovery files, there's “only” about 32GB at the user's disposal. For some people, that will do just fine, but storing music, movies, or other large files on the device might be a problem. Thankfully, there's always the option to expand the tablet's storage using a microSD card of up to 64GB. In addition, a free SkyDrive account will get you several gigabytes of cloud storage that can be used for storing photos, documents, and other files you don't require having access to on a daily basis.
Web Browser and connectivity:
With the desktop-grade Internet Explorer 10 web browser, one can experience all that the web has to offer, including Adobe Flash content and Java applications. What's more is that the application is touch-optimized, meaning that navigation gestures like pinch to zoom and the likes are supported and work well. Performance issues are rare, occurring only when browsing heavy web pages. Sadly, although alternatives can be installed in case you aren't happy with the native solution, browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Opera don't support touchscreen gestures, which makes them harder to use without a pointing device.
While you'll probably connect to the internet over Wi-Fi most of the time, there's a 3G module built into the Acer Iconia W511. Just pop in a SIM card in there (with a data plan, of course) and you're good to browse the web wherever there's network coverage. Just keep in mind that you'll be limited to 3G speeds – those fancy 4G LTE networks are not supported. Another connectivity feature that's missing is GPS. NFC and Bluetooth, on the other hand, are present. As a side note, the device's cheaper, non-3G variant is known as the Acer Iconia W510.
1. EXkurogane (Posts: 863; Member since: 07 Mar 2013)
Took really long for PA to review this it seems; But it's going for around USD $550 without the dock in my country, and despite the average rating this is the tab to go for if u r comparing this with the Surface RT simply because it runs full windows 8, not RT.
2. TechBizJP08 (Posts: 494; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)
It nice. The design is quite good. And cheaper having windows 8 with desktop on board. I'd say good Job Acer..
3. rashsys (Posts: 16; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)
Quote: "Another connectivity feature that's missing is GPS."
Wrong. The W511 is equipped with A-GPS chip. At least here, in Russia all W511's are GPS-enabled.