Until now, tablet support for Windows 8 was limited to 10-inch devices. This is less than ideal from a portability standpoint. The Iconia W3 is the first 8.1-inch tablet to ship with support for Windows 8 Pro. While it does offer improved portability, it comes with a few tradeoffs in return. Gizmodo sums up the tablet well by saying “It’s great hardware let down by its form factor and a crappy screen, but by virtue of being the only competitor, it’s the best 8-inch Windows 8 tablet on the market.”
The performance of the tablet is respectable. No, it is not a gaming tablet. But for productivity purposes, media consumption and web browsing, it has plenty of power thanks to its Atom processor clocked at 1.8-GHz. Support for microSD cards and USB OTG helps to improve flexibility and accessory options as well. The best part is that Windows 8 Pro allows you to install legacy Windows applications and have a full version of Windows that fits in your bag with ease. Best of all, the processor is incredibly battery-friendly, with PC Magazine’s video test achieving nearly 10 hours on a single charge.
Unfortunately, there are a few things that are really working against the Iconia W3. The first is the display. It is an LCD TFT display at 1200x800. This not only means that graphics are less than stellar but that viewing angles are atrocious as well. Dana Wollman of Engadget described the screen well: “Even for a budget tablet, the W3's 8.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 screen feels like a letdown.” You won’t be letting anyone peek over your shoulder with tablet. They could not read your screen. The lower resolutions also means that you cannot snap applications on the screen. So no multitasking on the tablet without the normal bouncing between apps. The last problem with the tablet is the materials. For a device at this price point, it feels cheap. Screen bezels are thick, the plastic chassis of the tablet is sturdy but cheap looking and it is about as visually interesting as a rock.
The Good: Windows 8 Pro, portability, outstanding battery and low price.
The Bad: Poor viewing angles, cheap feel, dull display and no included dock.
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