Acer Iconia W510 review:

Windows 8 + Intel Atom = great battery life

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While most Windows 8 systems, even touch-screen or tabletlike ones, use an Intel Core i-series CPU, a few, including both this and HP's Envy x2, have the Intel Atom Z2760 CPU inside. I thought we had perhaps seen the last of the Atom line after the Netbook market collapsed. No such luck. The next-gen Atom (also known by the code name Clover Trail) is an improvement on previous models, but you still won't get even the performance of a low-end Intel Core i3 out of it.

For Web surfing, e-mail, and other basic tasks, it actually works fine. Doing heavy Photoshop work, trying to play even basic games, or just running too many windows at once can be frustrating. If you temper your expectations, it's acceptable, but my issue is the $750 price -- at that level, Core i3 and i5 laptops, even very slim ones, are available. With the Atom you also don't get the benefit of Intel's latest HD 4000 integrated graphics, so even low-end games will be unplayable. Is the Atom a deal breaker? No, but systems with this chip belong in a lower price category.

The Atom does offer one important advantage: it's very power-efficient (although Intel's Core i-series chip are also very efficient these days). In our video playback battery drain test, the tablet screen alone ran for a whopping 10 hours and 10 minutes. Add in the keyboard base, with its additional battery, and you get 13 hours and 14 minutes. That's a definite selling point, although nonstop Web surfing might lower those numbers by a good deal.

The detachable-screen hybrid Windows 8 laptop feels like a check box nearly every PC maker needs to hit for 2013. None of the variations on this theme is as elegant as the best clamshell or convertible laptops, and some of the prices we've seen will be hard for consumers to swallow. That said, the Iconia W510 works well as a standalone tablet, and has very enviable battery life, but it is hampered by a high price, clunky keyboard, and too many micro-style ports.

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)

Load test (avg. watts)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer Iconia W510
Dell XPS 12

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Acer Iconia W510
Windows 8 Pro (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 747MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB SEM64G SSD

Acer Iconia W700
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Toshiba SSD

Dell XPS 12
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 256GB Lite-On IT SSD

Sony Vaio Duo 11
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Toshiba SSD

Toshiba Satellite U925t
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Samsung SSD

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

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