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Earlier this year Acer's Iconia W3 became the first and only Windows 8 tablet with an 8.1-inch form factor, along an all-time low starting price of $380. It wasn't exactly a smashing hit. Now, with Windows 8.1 bringing a number enhancements and tweaks for smaller screen sizes, the company is ready to give it another go.
The new Iconia W4 doesn't differ much from its predecessor on the outside but it addresses many of the W3's weakest points. Foremost, it steps up to a 1,280 x 800 IPS display with wider viewing angles and improved readability in sunlight. The tablet is also equipped with a faster fourth-generation Atom processor from Intel's Bay Trail family and is slightly thinner and lighter at .91 pounds and 0.42 inches, instead of 1.1 and 0.45.
The front camera remains a 2 megapixel unit suitable for video calls but the one on the rear has been bumped from 2 to 5 megapixels this time around. Elsewhere, the Iconia W4 keeps the same basic ports as its predecessor with micro-USB, micro-HDMI and a microSD slot for additional storage.
The Iconia W4 also comes about $50 cheaper with the 32GB model priced at $330 and the 64GB variant at $380. Acer will be offering a range of accessories when the device lands later this month, including a passive stylus, and two types of covers: the Crunch Cover, which folds out into a tablet stand, and the Crunch Keyboard that does the same thing but also doubles as a Bluetooth keyboard that can be charged via Micro USB.
Other major PC manufacturers are also trying their hand at smaller tablets offering the full Windows 8.1 experience – not RT. Among them are Toshiba with the Encore, Dell with the Venue 8 Pro, and Lenovo with the Miix2 which was revealed yesterday. Microsoft is rumored to be working on a smaller surface tablet too.