Acer Iconia W510 review

More tablet than convertible ultrabook, unfortunately

Acer Iconia W510
Acer Iconia W510

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With Windows 8 going all touchy-feely, the PC space is starting to get a tad schizophrenic. Touchscreen laptops are common, as are ultrabooks that want to be tablets, and now we've even got portable all-in-ones like the Acer W700. Full Windows 8 or not, the Acer W510 is a tablet, though it wishes it were a convertible ultrabook.

Acer Iconia W510 review

A 10-inch touchscreen

In trying to be everything to everyone, it embraces the tired old "Jack of all trades, master of none" cliche. While we loved the portability it offered, we'd rather sacrifice our shoulders and haul a heftier notebook with a full keyboard. Ten inches is great for a tablet, but for as a laptop replacement it just doesn't get the job done, and there's not enough pep in its processor to justify a $750 price tag. Additionally, the lack of a 3G/4G option prevents the W510 from being a true road warrior.

We liked

The Iconia W510 is so very portable. At 10.2-inches and weighing less than two pounds, it fits easily in a bag or large purse, and you'll likely forget you're even carrying it.

The tablet itself gets excellent battery life, and when coupled with the dock it gets even better. The W510 can easily make it through the day on a single charge.

Acer Iconia W510 review

The hinge is sturdy, but the W510 is prone to tipping

Like any tablet, it's a great media consumption device. It performed perfectly when streaming web videos and watching Netflix.

It's also a nicely built piece of machinery. The hinge is sturdy, the silver brushed metal exterior looks and feels good, and it looks more like a laptop than other more cobbled together looking tablet and dock setups.

We disliked

The keyboard. We hated it. Typing anything more than a paragraph or two was tortuous, and the touchpad is a real stinker too. It's tiny, very sensitive and not multi-touch. That means no two finger scrolling, a feature we've come to expect on laptops, even if they have a touchscreen.

The processor is also not peppy enough for the W510's price point. What's the point of paying for a full Windows 8 machine if it can hardly run any Windows programs?

Acer Iconia W510 review

The keyboard is small with shallow keys

While the hinge is very sturdy and keeps the screen nicely in place, it's a top heavy design. It tends to fall over backwards when used on a lap or couch cushion. That's rather precarious for something obviously built to travel.

There also aren't enough ports on the thing. One full size USB port is tough to swallow, especially since you'll like use it up with a wireless mouse to compensate for the W510 miserable touchpad.

Finally, the price. The W510 is too expensive for the limited functionality it offers.

Final verdict

Do not purchase the Acer W510 to be your solo computing option. The compatibility of full Windows 8 is tempting, but the internals aren't powerful enough to support the most relevant software. The real deal breaker, however, is how cramped the overall build of the thing is. Let us reiterate that this is meant to be someone's second or even third device, something good for media consumption and light work or gaming when on the go.

We're obviously not crazy about this machine, but there is one customer we'd recommend the Acer Iconia W510 to. That'd be someone looking to upgrade from a dated tablet who often types on a third-party keyboard. If you're using an iPad 2 with a ugly keyboard stand, and like the idea of getting a decent Windows 8 tablet bundled with typing dock that provides extra battery, then we would recommend you check out this machine. Go into a store and try typing on it, and make sure the keyboard suits your needs, because it didn't suit ours.

Really though, there are better ways to spend your money. For less cash you could pick up a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, or even a brand new iPad, and pair it with a bluetooth keyboard.

If it's the promise of portability and productivity that intrigues you, spend just a little more money and get a real ultrabook, an 11-incher with real keyboard. Your fingers will thank you. Or just get a full-on laptop. You shoulder may hate you after hauling it all day, but you'll be getting a lot more computing power for money.

Finally, if it's a real convertible you're after, you're just going to have to pony up. Investigate the The HP Envy X2, the Thinkpad Helix or the Surface RT, or wait for the soon-to-debut Surface Pro.

We're not big fans of Windows RT, so we can't believe we're saying this, but the W510 might have been better off as an RT device. Mainly for the Microsoft Office apps that are included with RT. Remember, Windows 8 doesn't come bundled with Word or Excel, so you'll be dropping even more cash to get your W510 functional. We say no thanks.