Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival - InformationWeek

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Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival

Iconia W510 priced right, could give Apple's new iPad run for its money in key areas like performance and mobility.

10 Tablets To Shake Up 2012
10 Tablets To Shake Up 2012
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Acer on Tuesday revealed specifications for a generously featured Windows 8 tablet that matches the entry price for the new iPad--a sign that Microsoft and partners may finally have some legitimate answers to Apple's dominant tablet.

The Iconia W510 checks in at $499 for the basic 32GB model, which features a 10.1-inch HD screen that uses Corning's Gorilla Glass 2, dual cameras, a multitude of peripheral ports, and Intel's new Atom Z2760 "Clover Trail" processor, which the chipmaker designed with Windows 8 tablets in mind.

A higher-end version of the W510 is priced at $749. It comes with 64GB of storage and a keyboard dock, which is optional on the less expensive model. Acer said it expects the Iconia W510 to hit U.S. stores on Nov. 9--a full two weeks after Windows 8's formal launch on Oct. 26, but well in time for the holiday shopping season.

[ How low will Windows 8 tablet prices get? Read Windows 8 Tablets For $399? It's Possible. ]

"Customers will enjoy optimized experiences for touch, typing, and viewing on the Iconia W510 tablet PC," said Sumit Agnihotry, Acer's VP for product marketing, in a statement. "The versatility of the new tablet PC and durability of Gorilla Glass 2 display pairs beautifully with the responsive performance to take advantage of the capabilities of Windows 8 for a first-rate tablet PC experience."

Acer W510
Transformers: Acer's Iconia W700 and newly launched Iconia W510 (right) can function as standalone tablets
or full laptop replacements.

At a starting price of $499, the W510 matches Apple's price for the 16GB new iPad. In doing so, it may represent one of the Windows camp's first credible threats to Apple's dominance of the tablet market. Tablets based on previous versions of Windows have been overpriced compared to the iPad, and their performance typically underwhelmed.

But Windows 8 tablets that match the iPad's $500 to $800 price range could be game changers. Those that run on Intel's Atom chips will be capable of running Windows applications built for older versions of the OS as well as all of the new Metro-style apps that are showing up in Microsoft's online Windows Store. The company says the store will be stocked with more than 100,000 apps within 90 days of Windows 8's launch.

Windows 8 tablets that run chips based on the ARM mobile reference design will lack backwards compatibility with existing Windows applications, but they will come pre-loaded with a touch-optimized version of Microsoft Office 2013 that should be attractive to road warriors.

The Iconia W510 includes lots of other features that should appeal to workers on the go. Acer promises 9 hours of battery life in tablet mode, and an additional 18 hours when connected to the keyboard dock, which includes a battery of its own. There are also plenty of options for expandability, as the system has a built-in microSD card reader, Micro-USB port, a Micro-HDMI port, and a full-size USB port on the dock.

Microsoft plans to hold a launch event for Windows 8 and related products on Oct. 26 in New York City.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2012 | 5:30:45 PM
re: Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival
Design and convenience will ultimately drive adoption. If MS devices are clumsy in terms of what is bundled on the device, then it will not challenge the iPad as Apple will continue to win on usability as already stated. Enterprises are still challenged with how to get mission critical apps to work suitably well on the iPads, MS will face the same challenge. What we are seeing and have clients doing today is to have full functional office as well as several mission critical apps aggregated at the glass with desktop level performance. unlikely that edge devices completely take over laptop/desktop, but there is a likelyhood that a lot of knowledge workers will get what they need by carrying a tablet.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/12/2012 | 2:07:15 PM
re: Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival
I don't believe you can make the case that most of the big companies have budgeted for iPad. If it was the only choice, then yeah maybe. But that is no longer the case. Big companies are looking for devices that satisy both BYOD and Manageability criteria. Windows 8 will come very close out of the box at doing that.

WinRT is a new run time (API) and supports running the new "Metro" as well as legacy apps. However, Win8RT (OS) only runs on the ARM processor so naturally any app written for the x86, x64 architecture will not run. That's where the standard Win8 OS comes in. It will run legacy apps as well as the new "Metro - but we can't call it Metro" apps.

I think Win8 uptake will be slow at first until the word spreads as to whether it is popular with early adopters... or not. We'll just have to wait and see.
Verdumont Monte
Verdumont Monte,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 8:39:52 PM
re: Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival
Lot of the big companies have already budgeted for iPad. I am not entirely sure if Windows 8 will take off at launch. One thing that could possibly be helpful is if MS can make the legacy apps work on the RT tablet (I heard there is no legacy support). Anyways we will have to wait and see.
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2012 | 7:26:23 PM
re: Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival
I agree with you on the usability issue. However, since Apple only has 9% of the PC marketplace, this could be a game changer. Many (obviously not all) users will upgrade to Windows 8 when they replace their machine. Since these tablets use the same interface, usability becomes a non-issue. I have used the Windows 8 app store and it is every bit as easy to use as the App Store. It remains to be seen how well Win8 will do, but if it takes off, the tablet marketplace will be changed forever. Without Jobs at the helm, do you really think Apple will be able to adapt? I have my doubts.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2012 | 8:39:00 PM
re: Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival
Say IW, could you go back through your archives and tell us how many articles you've run announcing a product that is "finally competition" for the iPad? I'm sure it's at least 30 or 40.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2012 | 7:16:33 PM
re: Acer's $500 Windows 8 Tablet: Real iPad Rival
Matching specs seems to be all the other vendors can do, Apple knows people do not care about specs, but about usability. Unless the Tablets are rock solid in usability with a large pool of well designed and easy to use applications there will be no threat to the iPad. Look at the Android based tablets, the ones that are succeeding are based on being eReaders first with media capabilities, with nowhere near the same quality of applications because there is no gatekeeper to force a standard of quality. Only if Microsoft, not known for putting quality first, can have a similar ecosystem to Apple on quality, will the tablets even stand a change. If Microsoft introduces a fully functional and rock solid tablet version of Office at the outset, then maybe some businesses will consider the tablets, otherwise, just another also ran solution like Zune.
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