The Acer Iconia W4's display is a vast improvement over its predecessor's, serving up strong contrast levels, decent brightness and even colour reproduction with deep blacks. An IPS variant, it lives up to Acer's 170-degree viewing angle claims and is suitable for watching Netflix or sharing other content with a friend.

In fact, it's one of the best screens on an eight-inch tablet to date, with 'punchier' colours compared to the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Toshiba Encore. It uses what Acer calls 'Zero Air Gap' technology, which apparently removes the air between the tough panel and the LCD module to reduce reflections and improve readability under bright sunlight.

That isn't too far off the mark. With the exception of bright ceiling lights indoors, the display copes with reflections well. Outdoor readability is good, but doesn't quite match the high standards set by the Nokia Lumia 2520.

Acer Iconia W4 step

A step in the right direction

Acer has stuck with the tried-and-tested 1280x800-pixel resolution common across eight-inch Windows tablets. It's a suitable choice for the device's size, providing adequate real estate for interacting with desktop applications and Windows 8.1 apps without running into scaling issues.

That's not to say that a higher resolution display wouldn't be appreciated. With a PPI (pixels-per-inch) of 186, the Iconia W4 falls far behind the likes of Apple's iPad Mini with Retina (326ppi) and even a number of seven-inch Android tablets, including the 1080p-toting Nexus 7 (2013) and the Tesco Hudl (242ppi), which costs half the price.

Acer Iconia W4 home button

A pressing matter

The Acer Iconia W4 is similar to the Iconia W3 in terms of design, save for a few modifications that lend it a more premium feel. The most noticeable difference is that the Iconia W3's almost childish-looking white bezel is now a brushed metallic shade, lending it a moodier, 'serious business' feel.

Acer has opted to keep the tactile Windows button, which I find preferable to the touch-sensitive, haptic feedback variants found on other tablets. It's easier to press without looking and makes it easier to take screenshots, if that's what you're into.

In terms of portability, the Acer Iconia W4's 415g is lighter than both the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (900g), iPad Air (Wi-Fi only - 416g) and Kindle Fire HD (354g).

To pit it against similarly-sized adversaries, it's 85g lighter than the Iconia W3 and is more portable than the Dell Venue 8 Pro (395g) and Toshiba Encore (445g). As such, you won't mind throwing it into a bag to take on your travels, and its lightweight nature makes it just as easy handle in portrait mode as landscape.

At 11mm, it's a little thicker than Apple's iPad Mini with Retina, but it never feels cumbersome to hold thanks to rounded corners and even weight distribution.