Acer Aspire P3 review: Forgettable tablet

An 11.6-inch 1,366x768-pixel IPS display looks better than you'd expect for an ordinary resolution, but it's not as good as the Acer Iconia W700's 1080p-resolution screen. The step-down means it's equivalent to any basic laptop resolution, including the 11-inch MacBook Air. Because it's an IPS display, off-angle viewing still looks crisp. Stereo speakers, mounted on the bottom edge, sound adequate.

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A front-facing 1MP and rear 5MP camera take unimpressive photos, certainly short of the quality you'd see on any recent premium smartphone.

Windows 8 runs as it does on any recent ultrabook, without too many pre-installed freebies clogging the aesthetics. Acer Cloud, a service for sharing files across Acer devices, comes included.

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Features, performance, and battery
You get the same basic ports that are in most Core i5-level "pro" tablets: one USB 3.0 port, Micro-HDMI, a headphone jack. Oddly, that's it: there's no SD card slot, even though there's tons of room for one. 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, of course, are included.

The included Intel Core i5-3339Y processor is, in fact, the same as the one in the new 11-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga . Y-series processors are more energy-efficient, and also a little slower, but the real-world performance of the Aspire P3 matches what you'd expect out of an ultrabook. It's better than the average Atom Windows 8 tablet by a considerable margin. And keep in mind: newer fourth-gen Haswell processors aren't really much faster, but an update to newer chips would certainly help battery life and graphics performance.

Thankfully, the Acer Aspire P3's not a terrible battery performer: it bested the Surface Pro on battery life, at 5 hours and 50 minutes, but the Surface Pro was an underachiever in that department. Again: Intel processors are bound to improve on this number sooner than later. It's a fine number for a laptop circa 2012, but 2013 tablets and laptops already have a higher bar. The new 11-inch Air already topped 10 hours on the same test, and many Atom Windows 8 tablets easily top 7 hours or more.

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Conclusion
I don't know why someone would want the Acer Aspire P3. Bang for the buck, maybe, or an included keyboard case. But the price isn't much less than that of a Surface Pro, and doesn't offer anything that feels particularly great. Add in that new processors are going to improve this class of Windows tablet sooner than later. In the meantime, consider an ultrabook (or the new MacBook Air ) unless you're truly tablet-desperate. The Aspire P3 will offer ultrabook-level performance in a tablet, but in mid-2013 it feels like too little, too late.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations
Acer Aspire P3 171-6820
Windows 8 (64bit); 1.5GHz Intel Core i5 3339Y; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 120GB Intel SSD

MacBook Air 11-inch (June 2013)
OSX 10.8.4 Mountain Lion; 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 4240U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1024MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 128GB Apple SSD

Sony Vaio Pro 11
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1748MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400; 128GB SSD

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 32MB (dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Samsung SSD

Lenovo Yoga 11-inch
Windows 8 (64bit); 1.5GHz Intel Core i5 3339Y; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 256GB Samsung SSD

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Acer Aspire P3

Part Number: ASPIREP3

MSRP: $899.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications

  • Installed Size 4 GB
About The Author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.