gen 27

Exactly one month ago I received my Acer Iconia W510, because of a partnership between Acer and Microsoft, which I want to thank both one more time.
The Iconia W510 features a brand new Intel Atom Z2760 “Clover Trail” SoC with 2 GiB RAM and a 32 GB SSD.
With a 1366×768 10″ multitouch display and a detachable keyboard it’s one of the first platforms where Windows 8 can show its full potential.
Following a rather new tradition, the Iconia has been named Harrier and has joined my main pool of computers, composed by Hornet ( my laptop ) and Raptor ( my workstation ).

I started working on x86 system in 1994 and didn’t have any occasion to work on other platforms until 2008 when I got my first, used, UltraSPARCv9 workstation. I still was a Windows user nevertheless and as such I always had x86 ( and x64 ) systems to run the various version of Windows I used during the last 19 years.

As a result, I was very interested about the new Windows RT operating system for ARM SoCs.
I had the opportunity to try it and, even with the limitation of not being able to install any desktop application, there is still a desktop, there are still both command prompt and PowerShell that can run with administrative privileges, there are the usual command line utilities like netsh and a lot of other things which make Windows RT a “complete” operating system.
Not to mention Windows RT comes with Office H&S 2013.

Windows on x86 hardware nonetheless is another story, especially if you are a Power User like me.
For instance, this is my home’s wokspace. The W510 fits nicely on the left of Raptor‘s main screen.

My desk with two PCs and the Iconia W510

Being able to run the full range of 32 bit applications for Windows in the world is priceless. There are scenarios where the need to install software like PuTTY or OpenVPN, for instance on UNIX or *nix-based workplaces, overcome the capabilities of any Windows RT device.
I installed Visual Studio on my Iconia last week and now I’m able to do much of the work I already do on my laptop or my workstation. Of course I can’t run the WP8 emulator, but I can still write down some ideas into code anywhere I am ( with the help of Visual Studio’s IntelliSense ).

One thing that was really unexpected is the battery life. It’s amazing. I can use it for two whole days without the need of charging the two batteries ( one in the unit, one in the detachable keyboard ).
I was really surprised, considering that my dad’s Intel Atom based netbook, running Windows 7, could at least last 6 to 7 hours, maybe 8 with an aggressive energy-saving policy.
The idea to put another battery pack in the keyboard was excellent. When using the Iconia with the keyboard, or while using the keyboard as a stand, the internal battery will be depleted last, when there’s no more charge in the keyboard’s battery.

The screen is large enough to be used for productivity tasks while, having a 16:9 A/R, it’s little less suited for reading fixed A4 documents. On the other end is comfortable enough to read e-books or other contents with a variable layout, better suited for portrait orientation on a 16:9 screen.
The minimum screen brightness is low enough to not strain your eyes while reading. BTW, if reading during nighttime without any other light source, it’s better to switch to a white on black, or even a grey on black color scheme if the app / website allow this.

Design’s fairly good, a little scratch-prone IMHO. I would have put a regular USB port on the side of the unit instead of a microUSB one. The keyboard has another USB port so there is a total of two ports.
A male microUSB to female USB-A dongle is bundled with the device, so this isn’t a big issue, but personally I hate dongles since time of PCMCIA network card ( because there’s some magic around them that make them disappear sooner or later ).

The embedded NFC and Bluetooth could be a good option to attach a mouse without sacrificing one of the two precious USB ports, while BitLocker can use the integrated TPM module to securely encrypt data.

The really big drawback of the unit Acer sent me are the only 32 GB of internal storage that leave really little space for documents and personal data once App and other software ( like Visual Studio Express or Office standard ) start being installed.
There is a microSD slot that accept cards up to 32 GB ( 64 GB cards are unsupported  ), so data, music, pictures, etc. can be stored there.

I had some stability issues during the first week that were greatly reduced with the following driver updates.
I haven’t had one since the last driver update of January 13.

Overall, being my first tablet, I’m pretty satisfied of it. Of course I have different needs from standard users. I wouldn’t have cared if the Iconia would have weighted 1 lbs more or would have been 1/4″ ticker but maybe having a mSATA SSD instead of the one soldered on the mainboard.

In the end, I think the Acer Iconia W510 is a very good product, because before being a tablet, is a PC.
That means, when choosing a tablet, that the Iconia ( as well as the other “Clover Trail” based tablets ) has no restrictions on any App’s store or market, can be fully integrated in a business / enterprise environment when running Windows 8 Pro ( like mine ) and can be connected to any device with available drivers for Windows 8 / 7 or Vista.

Many friends of mine are starting to consider this product a good balance between a high-end netbook and a mid-range tablet. Of course high-end x86 tablets offer more, but with an higher price. Acer itself produces the Iconia W700 which belong to another class of products.
After a single month some things start to be addictive: this a sign that the product is good!

Again, many thanks to Microsoft Italy and Acer Italy for this amazing Iconia W510.

Bye

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