Just the other day I took a stroll in Staples and happened to see Acer's Iconia W3 tablet sporting Windows 8. The wife was grazing for something uninteresting so I snuck away to the notebook department. Acer's 8.1 inch Windows 8 tablet lured me in, as it had its own dedicated display, allowing for a little one-on-one time. What I discovered was an interesting device.
Typically I don't use a first-person approach, but in this case it's needed, so take this as a brief encounter instead of a full hands-on review. Surprisingly the tablet felt a little heavy for its size, and I quickly noticed a warm spot behind the logo stamped on the back. My two Nexus tablets don't heat up like this, especially when they're sitting idle doing absolutely nothing save for pumping email, Facebook and other notifications. As I mentioned on Twitter, users may want to default to using the optional cover just to keep from directly touching that area. It won't burn, but it's a little annoying nevertheless.
The other glaring aspect of the first sub-10 inch Windows 8 tablet was the screen. It had a weird reflective, metallic surface which looked unattractive and hard to view for long durations. The culprit is the Twisted Nematic display used in the device which have reportedly rubbed retailers and reviewers alike the wrong way. I now see what the fuss has been about despite PC World saying "it was nowhere near bad enough to be a deal breaker." Acer, it seems, was cutting corners to get the first 8.1 inch Windows 8 tablet on the market at a semi-decent price.
That leads us to unsurprising news that Acer is already working on a replacement model. While the hardware details are next to zero, Acer Netherlands spokesperson Sterre Swank told Dutch site Tweakers.net that a new version will be offered in September. It will be slimmer, lighter, and sport an IPS LCD panel, ditching the Twisted Nematic version. IPS displays have better viewing angles and color vibrancy than TN displays, but cost more for the device maker, hence the "cutting corners" reference.
The move arrives after many retailers have threatened to discontinue sales of the tablet, as they're reportedly fighting just to dry up their already small supply of Iconia W3 units. An 8.1 inch Windows 8 tablet would seemingly be ideal for computing away from the desk, but sales and a number of reviews say differently. Does this mean customers will see a fire sale soon?
So far it's unclear if the new Windows 8 tablet will carry the same name, or use something completely different to distance it from the Iconia W3. It's also unclear how much this tablet will cost: the current model is priced at $379.99 for the 32 GB version (opens in new tab) and $429.99 for the 64 GB version (opens in new tab)… and that's with the "cheaper" Twisted Nematic display. Cross your fingers that IPS panel doesn't jack up the price.