Acer Iconia W4-820-2466 review: All-day battery life from the 8-inch Acer W4

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 9.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Acer's Iconia W4 has excellent battery life for an 8-inch Windows tablet; plenty of ports for a slate, including HDMI, SD card, and USB, as well as a decently large 64GB SSD.

The Bad The clunky plastic design does the W4 no favors, and it's thicker and heavier than many other Windows tablets. The screen resolution feels dated compared to a growing number of HD-or-better tablets.

The Bottom Line The 8-inch Acer Iconia W4 has a few advantages that help it stand out from a crowd of similar devices, including great battery life and enough ports to support basic productivity. It's also much better -- and less expensive -- than last year's W3 model, so it earns bonus points for that.

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Acer's first attempt at an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, the Iconia W3, worked well enough for an early example of the style, but it was soon eclipsed by newer models from Dell, Lenovo, and others with better design, features, and performance.

The new Iconia W4 corrects a lot of what we didn't like about the original (but not everything), and the all-day battery life is enough to make it one of the better 8-inch Windows 8 tablets. With an Intel Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD, it's fairly priced at $299 (Acer's list price is $349, but it's widely available for $50 less), especially as it includes ports for HDMI, USB, and SD cards (all of the micro-mini variety). The original W3 model cost more than $400, and prices for 8-inch Windows 8 tablets continue to trend down.

Acer Iconia W4
Sarah Tew/CNET
Despite good performance and features, however, if you line the W4 up against the competition, you probably wouldn't reach for it first. It's thicker and heavier than some other current Windows 8 tablets, and just doesn't look as sharp. Some buttons are awkwardly placed, and you'll either love or hate the click-y physical Windows button, whereas other tablets have a capacitive touch button instead.

The real deciding factor here is the eight-hour-plus battery life, which is the best score among the current crop of similar systems we've tested. Add in the 64GB SSD, which is double what many other tablets offer, and it tells a compelling story, if you don't mind losing out in the looks department.

Specs compared

Acer Iconia W4-820-2466 Asus VivoTab Note 8 Lenovo IdeaTab Miix 2
Price $349 $329 $599
Display size/resolution 8.1-inch, 1,280x800 touchscreen 8.1-inch, 1,280x800 touchscreen 10-inch, 1,920x1,200 touchscreen
PC CPU 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740
PC Memory 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1066MHz 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1066MHz 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1066MHz
Graphics 32MB Intel HD Graphics 32MB Intel HD Graphics 32MB Intel HD Graphics
Storage 64GB SSD hard drive 32GB SSD hard drive 128GB SSD hard drive
Optical drive None None None
Networking 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 8.1 (32-bit) Windows 8.1 (32-bit) Windows 8.1 (32-bit)

Design and features

Stack the current crop of 8-inch Windows tablets next to each other, and the Iconia W4 stands out, but not necessarily in a good way. Not only is it thicker than the Dell Venue 8 or the ThinkPad 8, it's the only one with a raised screen panel on the front of the device. Instead of smooth edge-to-edge glass across the entire front face, you get a plastic outer border, with the glass screen cover slightly inset and extruded. The combined effect makes the screen look even smaller than it is compared to the overall footprint of the system.

The W4 is also on the heavy side, weighing 0.92-pound without its power cable. Eight-inch Windows 8 tablets from Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and others weigh less, and in fact, the only 8-inch Windows tablet we could find that weighed more was last year's 1.1-pound Iconia W3.

Acer Iconia W4
Sarah Tew/CNET
Button and port placement is an area where Windows tablets are still finding their way. For example, the Acer Iconia W4 has its Micro-USB port, which doubles as its charging port, on the bottom edge of the chassis (when held in portrait mode). Most of the other 8-inch tablets have that either on the side or top panel. The power button is on the top edge, while the SD card and HDMI ports are on the right edge, along with a volume control rocker switch.

In contrast, the Lenovo 8 has its power button and USB/power connection on the right edge and the HDMI on the left edge, with nothing on the top and only a headphone jack on the bottom. Dell and Asus tablets have their own unique layouts. I'm not sure one version has a huge advantage over another at this point, and the main advantage or disadvantage you may find is the charging port being close to where your power cable is plugged into the wall.

The 8-inch display has the same 1,280x800 resolution as the previous Iconia tablet, which is also the same as the Dell Venue 8 and Asus Note 8. Lenovo's ThinkPad 8 costs a bit more but has an excellent 1,920x1,200 display. The Acer version is bright and clear, and at 8 inches you can certainly argue that more resolution is not necessary, but everything from popular 5-inch phones to the retina iPad Mini all have higher screen resolutions. The off-axis viewing angles on the W4 are a great improvement over last year's W3 model, which we knocked for its poor screen quality.

Connections

Video micro-HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack
Data 1 Micro-USB 2.0, micro-SD card reader
Networking 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None

Connections, performance, and battery

While the design, weight, and screen resolution of the Iconia W4 do it no favors, it does beat most of the other 8-inch Windows 8 tablets for offering a full selection of ports. Full for a slate-style tablet, at least. Having USB, HDMI, and an SD card slot makes this as functional as a budget laptop, but keep in mind you'll need a pocketful of adapters or cables.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Acer ICONIA W4-820-2882

Part Number: NT.L31AA.009
Low Price: $302.98 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Type Windows 8.1 32-bit Edition
  • RAM 2 GB ( provided memory is soldered )