Skip to main content

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

Things Get Ugly; Almost Dreamliner-Ugly

Sadly, Acer spent so much time with Intel to optimize the touchscreen's responsiveness, and somehow it completely forgot about the keyboard dock. While it adds an extra battery, taking run time up to a theoretical 18 hours, and the keyboard itself is usable, the trackpad is not. This isn't even an issue of size or tactile feel. Rather, the trackpad misses movements and jumps around erratically.

Back in November, we were told that Acer was aware of the problem and working on a fix. We waited. And waited. And waited. At first, we heard it was a hardware issue. Then, that it was software. A quick search of Acer's community message boards turned up several others with the same complaint. We held off on our story, hoping the next driver package would fix the trackpad. The following BIOS did improve functionality, but the input surface was still unusable most of the time.

Then, the keyboard completely died. It still generated a tone when I attached it to the tablet, but its battery no longer charged and it was no longer detected in Windows. So, I decided to ship my sample in to Acer.

It was a little tricky getting through to the company's online support system. After filling out the requisite forms, I received an RMA number. Unlike Lenovo, which ships out a box with a prepaid label for service, or an Apple tablet that can be walked in to an Apple store, Acer left it up to me to ship off my broken device. Because shipping was on my tab and only the keyboard was broken, I shipped it on its own. Then, I waited.

Then I got a call from an Acer rep, who wanted me to ship the tablet and keyboard together, arguing that the service department needed to check compatibility between by keyboard and tablet. Also, there was no serial number for the keyboard, and they had to associate the dock with a tablet. Bear in mind that the keyboard would no longer charge; it was obviously broken. Talking to support on the phone was fruitless. They were nice; they just weren't able to do anything.

It's not the buyer's fault that Acer doesn't have a unique serial number for its keyboard. It only appears that Acer doesn't have the flexibility to help its customers as Apple. If you have a Mac Pro with a defective mouse or keyboard, the company replaces it as long as the system is under warranty. In this case, the keyboard is specific to Acer's W510, a brand-new product, meaning that all W510 keyboards are under warranty. Shoot, Logitech once replaced a broken G7 mouse, even though I had no receipt and the serial number was completely worn through. Why? The G7's warranty was longer than the product had been available, so customer service understood that every G7 was still protected by Logitech's warranty at the time.

Not Acer, though. They wouldn't even evaluate the dock until I shipped the tablet, even though the keyboard could easily be confirmed broken by plugging a charger into it (the dock can charge independently). Since I never send notebooks for repair with their hard drives, I spent time scrubbing my data. Since I didn't want the tablet damaged in shipping, I carefully packed it back up into the retail box and supplemental cardboard sleeve. I left the charger out, but included the manuals, documentation, and cleaning cloth because they provided additional structural support in the bento-box style packaging. The package went to Acer's repair facility via FedEx two-day. More out of pocket costs. My tablet arrived at Acer on February 14. I received it back February 28.

When the unit arrived, it came wrapped in plastic in a brown box. My retail packaging was gone. This wasn't an Acer press sample either, mind you. It was purchased at Central Computer in the Bay Area, and the box even had a Central Computer sticker on it. It was sent as part of an Intel review kit, but it was a retail product nonetheless. Sigh.

  • 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