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Acer Iconia W510 Tablet: A Tale Of Intel Vs. ARM And Acer Vs. Apple

Acer's W510 In Practice

I was most impressed with the W510's battery life. It was no surprise that Intel wanted reviewers to use the W510 as their reference platform for Atom Z2760. Using a 720p-based video of the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover's landing animation playing in a continuous loop (at 100% brightness and 100% volume), I took a full-charged Canon EOS 5D Mark II in tethered mode (with no LCD review) and recorded a time-lapse video with one frame every 15 seconds. The camera ran out of batteries before the tablet, and I was able to get more than seven hours from the W510.

We've seen this already, but Acer's W510 demonstrates again that x86 works for tablets. Beyond my seven-plus hours of video playback, I attached the optional keyboard dock and extended battery, and played a 1080p H.264-encoded video non-stop for 15 hours and 37 minutes.

Next, I took the W510 through a set of Web browsing benchmarks, where processor performance proved to be top-tier. There are large differences between IE10 and Chrome performance. Given full x86 support, it was trivial to try out different browsers (although the best user experience is with the IE10 Touch mode).

With Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 both around the corner, there's no doubt that Intel's Atom Z2760 will face fierce competition very soon. Still, though, Intel's touch optimizations and the Z2760's performance make basic Web-based functionality fluid on Acer's W510.

I have performance numbers for an overclocked six-core PC in there just to remind everyone that the death of the desktop is still a premature proclamation.

Reveling In x86 Compatibility

It goes without saying that support for traditionally desktop-oriented applications is a major advantage that Windows 8 enjoys over Android, iOS, and even Windows RT. There are two obvious wins that I encountered during my first week with the W510. The first was full Adobe Flash support. The second was TV shows only approved for Hulu desktop viewing were available to the W510, whereas they aren't for the Android and iOS platforms.

If you need the full Microsoft Office experience, and not just Office RT, you'll also appreciate x86 support. Windows RT's version of Office doesn't support macros or add-ins like Endnote, possibly the most popular plug-in for Office. Finally, you get HDMI and full USB support (although you need the included accessory cable to go from Mini-B to Type A connectors), making file transfers easier.

The Subjective Good: A High-Contrast IPS Screen

Acer arms the W510 with an IPS display. Apple's Retina screens and the Nexus 10's high-res panel both offer better resolution for photos. Moreover, Microsoft's Surface seems to have better contrast. But the W510 still looks good, supporting the argument that resolution alone does not dictate image quality.

So, we have a fast tablet with a sharp-looking display that's wonderfully responsive, great battery life, and full Windows 8 support. It's like a McLaren MP4-12C that doesn't ask you to choose between performance or comfort; you get both.

  • Priox
    "Because shipping was on my tab and only the keyboard was broken, I shipped it on its own."

    You made a massive assumption here to save yourself a few bucks in shipping costs. Your assumption was wrong, and the delay in processing your RMA is all on you.

    Acer manufactures and sells the dock together as a single unit. They separate physically but they are still both part of the same product. It is very reasonable and logical that they would want to examine both together in order to determine the cause of the problem.

    It is not reasonable or logical to compare the Acer W510 dock to a keyboard or mouse for a Mac Pro. Keyboards and mice are not system specific and are highly interchangeable. Your Acer tablet may function without the dock, but the dock does not function without the tablet; it's a system dependent peripheral.

    Next time you make an assumption that turns out to be wrong, I hope you'll accept some responsibility for it.
    Reply
  • ta152h
    What does "Since I never notebooks for repair with their hard drives, I spent time scrubbing my data." mean?

    As if the whining about having to send the full unit in wasn't bad enough (anyone with any technical knowledge would know to send the complete system, instead of being miserly), but then bad English.

    This was a really bad article.

    Reply
  • Bloob
    Not surprising, I have yet to buy anything Acer which works well. The products may just fill the exact function they are advertised to, but not a hair more.
    Reply
  • adgjlsfhk
    so pretty much what I got from this was that
    a. this is a good tablet, much better than an ipad
    b. it crashes if you try to do things that no ipad could ever do (full pc games)
    c. customer service sucks

    don't read the article, this has all the info
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    The Google Octane benchmarks are completely bogus for IE10 VS Chrome on SB-E .

    Chrome currently performs best in Octane. Nearly matched by Firefox. IE10 is nowhere near these two.
    Either you took a busted Canary build, or there is something wrong with the test setup.
    BTW, why are you testing a Canary build here ? Those are very unstable, and perf goes up and down.

    Could you try the latest release Chrome and retest ?
    Reply
  • hons
    so pretty much what I got from this was that
    a. this is a good tablet, much better than an ipad
    b. it crashes if you try to do things that no ipad could ever do (full pc games)
    c. customer service sucks

    don't read the article, this has all the info

    Plus -------- Acer needs him to pay the shipping charge!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • xtremeways
    I agree, this was a bad article. Acer's customer service is widely known as crap. Nothing new there, but as someone in the IT field you should have already known this. Armed with this knowledge you should have done everything by the book and not assumed you could just send the dock. I rather had read one of those 20 picture articles than this one. Sorry dude.
    Reply
  • duckwithnukes
    Who is this guy? Why the rant? Very poor article.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I just don't get it. So many companies no longer understand, that service is everything. Niche consumers (e.g. do-it-yourself enthusiasts) may not need service, but they're a niche; a tiny percentage of the market. To everyone else, if the product isn't perfect, the service better be, or they'll find something else. Could this explain why so many people are willing to pay the "Apple Tax?"
    Reply
  • ojas
    I have performance numbers for an overclocked six-core PC in there just to remind everyone that the death of the desktop is still a premature proclamation.
    I have a 9 year old 1.7 GHz Single core Pentium M that can prove the same. Sunspider (0.91) score running Chrome (v24) was 544.6 +/- 6%. 1GB DDR RAM, Windows XP, Intel IGP. Don't remember the clocks.

    Sunspider's sensitive to IPC and clock speeds, doesn't seem to care much about core count, as the rest of my little test went like this:

    Core i7-3517U @ 2.4 GHz + Turbo = 208
    Core 2 Quad Q8400 @ 2.77 GHz = 210.3
    Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.4 GHz = 262.4

    All within a 2% error margin.
    Reply