You knew the MS Surface Pro wasn't the only Windows 8 tablet with a Core i5 in town, right? The Acer Iconia W700 is an 11.6" Windows 8 64 bit tablet with an 11.6" full HD IPS display and the same Intel Core i5 1.7GHz CPU, 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM and a 128 gig SSD as Surface Pro. It lists for $999, and for that price you get a dock that adds 3 USB ports, a very usable Bluetooth keyboard and a homely but functional case. And there's an HDMI to VGA adapter too.
The Acer Iconia W700 has a USB 3.0 port, micro HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack plus good stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater 4.0 audio. It weighs 2. 1 pounds and is 0.47" thick. Though Windows 8 touch screen convertibles and tablets with Intel Core CPUs haven't had the best battery life, the Acer manages to impress us with 6.5 to 7 hours of battery life with brightness at 50% and WiFi on. Since the IPS 1920 x 1080 display has 350 nits brightness, 50% is a perfectly reasonable and bright setting for indoor use. If you're gaming, expect shorter runtimes, but if you mainly use it for productivity (MS Office, web, social networking, email, music playback and some streaming video) it will currently outlast other Core i5 Windows tablets on the market.
The Core i5-3317U with Intel HD 4000 graphics is currently the only available config, with your choice of a 64 or 128 gig SSD drive. The tablet runs relatively quiet and cool compared to Ultrabooks and laptops. You'll hear an ever so quiet whisper of air most of the time and the fan only kicks up when stressing the system with tasks like demanding gaming and HD video export. Still, it's not completely silent like an iPad, nor is it both silent and chilly like Intel Atom fanless Windows 8 tablets such as the HP Envy x2. That said, the W700 doesn't get toastier than the iPad 3 or Retina iPad and is generally cooler than the Microsoft Surface Pro.
This is a full Windows 8 machine with Ultrabook internals, so you can run Adobe Photoshop, iTunes, Windows Media Player, software development tools and any other Windows 7 .exe app you desire. It's very quick and responsive, unlike Intel Atom tablets that are fine in the Windows 8 Live Tile environment but can be sluggish in desktop mode. It's as smart and spritely as any Ultrabook on the market. What doesn't it have? There's no active digitizer and digital pen like MS Surface Pro and the Samsung ATIV 700T, so it's not a good choice for artists, note takers or math and science types who want to hand write formulas with a pen. If you prefer a somewhat larger display and don't need the digital pen, the Acer Iconia W700 is certainly a viable alternative to the Surface Pro.
The Acer Iconia W700 has dual band Atheros WiFi (sorry, no WiDi), Bluetooth 4.0, a front video chat camera and a mediocre 5 megapixel rear camera. There's no NFC or GPS, though you can use WiFi triangulation for location in populous areas. The display is bright (especially if you disable Windows 8's auto brightness feature), colorful and very sharp. The W700's casing is a single piece of aluminum and it feels and looks like a well made piece of hardware. It's available now.
Here's our Acer Iconia W700 video review. Our full written review will follow.