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Acer’s new W4 tablet: Windows 8.1 on a faster chip and 8-inch display

As Microsoft(s msft) Windows 8.1 becomes available, so too are new devices to run it: Acer’s Iconia W4 8-inch tablet, announced on Thursday, is one of the latest. The W4, a follow-up to the W3 tablet I reviewed in July, boasts an improved display and a new Intel (s intc) Atom chip for boosts in performance and run-time on a single charge. The Iconia W4 ships in the U.S. later this month with a price of $329 for a 32 GB model or $379 for a 64 GB version.

iconia w4

The biggest updates here are the screen and processor. The 8-inch 1280 x 800 display is now IPS, so viewing angles and color reproduction should be better than on the prior model. The screen uses Acer’s Zero Air Gap tech as well, helping to reduce reflections. Using Intel’s Atom with Bay Trail architecture brings the benefits from Intel’s Haswell processor: Better performance than an ARM processor but with the benefits of power efficiency. Acer says the W4 can run for 10 hours on a single charge.

The W4 has a micro HDMI port as well as micro USB, plus a pair of cameras: 5 megapixels on the back and 2 megapixels in the front. The rear camera supports autofocus and 1080p video capture. Up to 32 GB of additional storage can be added through a micro SD card slot.

Acer is also bundling Microsoft Office for Home & Student 2013 with the W4, just as it did with the prior model. Once again, Acer is offering accessories as well: The Crunch Keyboard is a Bluetooth 3.0 wireless keyboard while the Crunch Cover does double-duty as a stand and cover for the tablet.

This product refresh is taking place fairly quickly, but it’s an appealing one. Not only is the hardware improved, the device costs $50 less than the prior model. I suspect Acer might have wanted to release the W3 with the new W4 specs. Unfortunately, Intel’s new Haswell chips were just rolling out to manufacturers back then, so it simply wasn’t possible. Hopefully, I’ll get a hands on and see if the W4 is what the W3 might have been if the component schedules had matched up better.

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