Acer’s Iconia W700 Is a Curious Tablet-Desktop Hybrid

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When Windows 8 launches on Oct. 26, expect to see lots of hybrid PCs that combine a tablet and a laptop into a single, convertible device.

Acer’s Iconia W700 is an example of something different: the tablet-desktop hybrid.

(MORE: Needed for Google’s Next Nexus 7 Tablet: More Storage)

Included with the W700, which starts at $800, is a cradling station that has three USB 3.0 ports — the tablet itself has another — and can prop up at either a 70-degree or 20-degree angle. Of course, it charges the device as well. The tablet also has a Micro-HDMI slot for connecting to an external monitor, and it comes with a Bluetooth keyboard.

Acer isn’t the first company to announce a Windows 8 tablet with a docking station. Dell’s Latitude 10 will have a dock with four USB ports, an Ethernet jack and a full-sized HDMI slot. The dock for HP’s ElitePad 900 will have all those connectors plus a VGA port and audio line out.

But Acer’s Iconia W700 puts me in the desktop hybrid mindset for a couple reasons: Its display is larger than those other tablets, at 11.6 inches instead of 10 inches, and the tablet uses Intel’s more powerful Core processors, rather than the Clover Trail chips found in thinner and lighter machines. It also has a higher screen resolution of 1920-by-1080, which isn’t even supported by Clover Trail-based tablets.

I think the idea could grow beyond a simple set of extra ports. I’d love to see a dock with extra storage, especially because the solid state drives inside tablets are too skimpy for vast media libraries. A dock that had its own discrete graphic card would be even better, allowing the device to play PC games or handle extensive photo or video editing. And just maybe, it’d be cool to see a dock with its own larger, integrated display.

A man can dream. For now, at least, Acer’s planted the seed of an idea. The W700’s other specs include 4 GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 720 front-facing camera. The basic $800 model has a Core i3 processor and 64 GB of storage, but there’s a 128 GB version for $900, and a $1,000 model with 64 GB of storage and a Core i5 chip.

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