Sunday, June 30, 2013

Acer W3 - the New King of Portable Computing

Like an iPad Mini, but runs full Windows 8 Pro and all Windows applications including a full blow MS Office that's preinstalled for free. A dream? No, currently available in an Office Depot nearest you!

And for just $350.

At home or office, you may use external monitor, mouse and keyboard, it's like an ordinary desktop computer. When sitting in a sofa watching TV or on a flight crossing Pacific or Atlanta, you can still edit your paper or C++ codes, or do daily accounting with QuickBooks. Battery goes for at least 8 hours, no matter what you do with this W3.

This baby runs super smooth, no any Android tablet is like this, not even close. Typing on the screen is a joy, even in landscape mode, because it is the same size of iPad Mini just 20 mm longer. This article is entirely written on W3's screen.

I can even use Cyberlink PowerDirwctor to edit 1080p AVCHD (MTS) video taken with my G5 and compress video in real time, thanking to Intel's QuickSync - extremely fast and superb quality encoder.

16:10 (1280x800), not 4:3, but still much better than 16:9 that's common for pretty much all Windows and most Android.

Finally Microsoft, and Intel, have done something right after more than a decade!

Some photos:

Some hints:
  •  You can add other languages and input methods including Chinese and Pinyin in Control Panel.
  • Screen brightness is automatically adjusted by default and you may disable it. Auto screen rotate can also be disabled, Windows is never usable in portrait mode.
  •  Only 11.3GB is left out of box, but I got 2GB more after disk cleanup by freeing up windows updates.
  •  Press and hold down the power button and volume controls to enter BIOS or boot options. The BIOS is touch aware! To disable secure boot crap, you have to set up a supervisor password.
  •  It is a UEFI system, normal bootable CD/USB, including Windows XP/7/8 disks, won't boot. I had to use Macrium (the free version) to make bootable CD and USB (WinPE4) and do hard drive imaging. By far no any Linux support on this Z2760 platform; so Clonezilla etc. won't work.
  • AC adapter is rated 12V 1.5A, the plug is a standard 3 mm. Nice, you can use any such 3rd party adapters and you don't need a converter in a car.
  •  Screen is not IPS and therefore view angle is not great but good enough. There is a thin layer of haze like the Nokia Booklet, but not nearly that bad. The screen quality is low, but still well acceptable to me, especially for this price.
  •  After overnight sleep, battery level drops only 1% (from 43% to 42%). To wake up W3, you may press either the power or home button. I like to use the home button, it is more convenient and it won't reset to the desktop but goes to where I left. On and off are both truly instant, no any lag, not even 1 second, even faster than smartphones.
  •  A micro-to-standard USB adapter is not included, a huge mistake. Average customers will have great difficulty to deal with this, should they need anything USB.
  • Acer should make a simple dock for the USB and HDMI, then this thing will be perfect. The keyboard is crap, defeating all the beauty.
  •  The preinstalled MS Office is a full registered version, not those trial garbage found in many laptops. No blotware. It took only few minutes for the initial boot up, so far the best out of box experience ever!
  • This platform supports connected standby, like a smartphone, email can be pushed to W3 and an inbound phone call can ring a VOIP app!
Inside W3

Some bugs


  1. can this be a replacement of laptop for a high school-er? how about the 64GB version? Any other recommendation for small screen size laptop (Acer V5-122P-0649, Costco $499-$50)? Thanks a lot!

    1. I returned the 32GB and got a 64 which was unavailable. My last year's experience with the 32-bit Win8 was very unhappy and the Acer W510 released not long ago was still very buggy. So I was just to give this W3 a try and was prepared to either return for refund or the 64GB version. Seems Acer and MS have made significant progress in this W3.

  2. As long as the kid does not play demanding games. Yes, the Acer V5 looks very good to me including its screen. It says 3-cell battery, you might check if its battery life is enough for you.

  3. thanks! yes, the 3.5 hrs seems a bit too short. The fully loaded W3 is very attractive. 64 GB version should be very close to the 32GB version, if there is any difference at all.

  4. How can you disable auto brightness on the W3? I've looked everywhere and can't find the setting.

    1. Slide in from the right edge, settings, change my PC settings, general, screen.

    2. Thank you very much! :)

  5. Mine won't charge and only works plugged in! Any solution? Thank you!

    1. Try a different charger, the stock one is pretty weak.

  6. It's a known bios problem. You need to upgrade to 1.07 using the downloads at Acer's site.

  7. You post is good with lot of useful information. thanks...