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back to article Review: Acer Aspire P3 Windows 8 slate

Acer's recent tablet bash in London not only showcased its latest A1 Iconia Android fondleslab but also on display was its forthcoming Aspire P3 Windows 8 slate. This model exists in the convertible-cum-tablet twilight zone, as it comes with a keyboard cover as standard. Yet Acer really wants you to forget it's a tablet and …

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Anonymous Coward

purchase deferred till 2015

you can buy a traditional laptop pc for a couple of hundred quid. An android tablet for the same or less. Make some sort of tablet with a detachable keyboard. ( a sort of laptop pc) and now we are talking big bucks it seems.

While we are at it why are only the pricey windows 8 laptops equiped with touch screens?. even a bog stock tablet under a £100 has one of those.

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JDX
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Re: purchase deferred till 2015

Fitting the spec of a laptop into something the size of a tablet is expensive, surely that is not a surprise. Lugging a tablet and a cheap heavy laptop around is also a PITA so this does genuinely fit a new use-case... not one for everyone but if you travel a lot it could be great - watch movies on the tablet, get some work done on your tray-table with the keyboard.

Question... if the keyboard is bluetooth does that mean you can use it when detached?

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Re: purchase deferred till 2015

Lenovo Helix is exactly that, can be used as tablet, notebook or enhanced tablet (with the keyboard attached "convertible style") with batteries in keyboard and tablet unit. Not a Haswell (yet) but that CPU should be out before Q4.

The Sony Vaio Duo (the new 13 even more than the older 11) comes close (convertible but light)

The Q702 and Q572 might also be playing in that field and the Ativ 500/700 series are also there.

Win8 notebooks do not need a touchscreen. Nor do they (or desktops) benefit from that unless you are in a graphic design "heavy" enviromnent - and in that case you buy Cintiq monitors and a workstation (or maybe a T-Series / X-Series convertible)

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JDX
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Actually sounds quite nice

All the convertibles I've seen look clunky but that one looks rather nice.

I can't decide if £600 for a full-fat Windows PC that dinky is good value, if I was in the market for a tablet and a notebook I imagine it would be.

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Anonymous Coward

Neat? Um....

"...actually provides a neat way to charge the Bluetooth keyboard from the tablet"

No, a 'neat' way to charge the Bluetooth keyboard from the tablet would be a hidden internal contact that trickle charges it all the time it's connected. The phrase you were actually looking for was "ugly kludgy afterthought".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Neat? Um....

Perhaps some people might not want the keyboard to charge? Once the charge has moved to the keyboard you can't really get it back if you want to use it without keyboard.

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caps lock indication

Seems to be a new habit - the last two Acer laptops I bought both have the caps lock indicator absent, and bloody annoying it is too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: caps lock indication

Nor does my Lenovo, but can't say it a really issue. It flashes on the screen if you knock it on and the fact the letters are in uppercase is a dead giveaway.

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Re: caps lock indication

I'd say 'really bloody annoying' as i suffer from fat, clumsy fingers and got used to checking for the light using peripheral vision.

Now its 'tap tap tappetty tap - curse'

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Re: caps lock indication

it's also a twat when typing passwords :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: caps lock indication

In the Ease of Access area in the control panel you can change the settings for the keyboard so you get a beep when the caps lock is turned on/off. I touch type, so a light on the keyboard isn't much use in any case for me, the beep is VERY useful though.

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Windows

Great design

Ought to sell as well as the Nambian Snowshoe.

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Thumb Up

Re: Great design

Ah yes the famous country Nambia, right next to Narnia is it?

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Coat

Re: Great design

It's near Omnomnomnia which used to be part of Hungary.

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Meh

Looks quite nice, but I'm not sure if I'd feel drawn to one of these enough to feel ready to shell out 600 notes for just the i3 version.

Also, I'm yet to be convinced about Acer's build quality....

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FWIW, I've had several Acer laptops and have had no problems with the build quality. The materials tend toward the plastic end of the spectrum, but they've survived pretty rough handling.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice, but would be mad to buy a Windows tablet right now

With Intel's next gen processors due later this year.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice, but would be mad to buy a Windows tablet right now

You could say that about anything in IT.

Ooo look can't buy an andriod tablet, what with the new ARM designs due later in the year.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice, but would be mad to buy a Windows tablet right now

You could indeed. However, there are good times to wait and good times to buy. I think now is a good time to wait.

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A non working keyboard at boot...

... is an issue for more than just Linux. It means you won't be able to ditch W8 and install W7 instead.

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Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

If you prefer W7 on a tablet, there's something deeply wrong with you.

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Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

A quick search reveals plenty of people who have successfully installed Windows 7 using a bluetooth keyboard, as well as several people who struggled installing Ubuntu.

The non-working keyboard is purely down to what drivers are loaded at that point in the installation process. An alternative distro (or newer Ubuntu release) that includes the correct drivers should work just fine.

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Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

Also a standard USB keyboard would also probably have worked just fine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

It would likely screw any full disk encryption software as they tend to disable external keyboards.

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Re: Also a standard USB keyboard would also probably have worked just fine.

There's one usb slot. The install image is on a usb stick. When using a usb hub the boot drive doesn't work. So a standard usb keyboard didn't help. It's all in the article....

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Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

Depends on

+ Mode of use (Pen or Finger)

+ OS used on other systems

If you do not care about touch as some of our customers do than Win7 works almost as well as Win8 (HWR in 8 is better but 7 ist still second best with a huge lead). So if all other units are Win7 - why not.

Now the interesting question is:

Does the P3 have a inductive stylus (some reviews say yes)? With one - interesting. Without - another useless toy like all iThingys, most Androids and all current Acer tablets so far

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WTF?

Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

"If you prefer W7 on a tablet, there's something deeply wrong with you."

I'd prefer Win95 over Win8 on anything! Seriously.

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WTF?

Re: A non working keyboard at boot...

Can you explain why?

By which I mean - is this an aesthetic choice only, or is there something about Windows 8 that makes it unsuitable for you to work with?

If the former and you genuinely would sacrifice the speed, efficiency, utility, security and let's not piss about here, actual 32-bit operation at minimum and support for software written later than 1999, then I stand by my original statement - there's something deeply wrong with you. You're a twat.

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Linux

I'm glad the reviewer noted the issue with Linux installation. I'm looking for a device just like this.... My requirements are an 11.6" convertible tablet/laptop with an Intel i5 or better chip that can run Linux.... I need occasionally code on the go and I haven't touched a windows PC (other than at the office) since windows XP was the big news. Even at work I use my Windows pc just to remotely connect to Linux boxes.... As soon as a reviewer confirms that one of these new devices actually works with Linux I'll be all over it.

Troy.

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I'm sure you can get round this issue easily enough. Don't boot from a Linux image, but load onto the hard drive, then install from there. Or create a custom install image, and feed it drivers required for USB hubs or Bluetooth (although I don't know how easy that is). Or install over network.

Whether the correct drives for the hardware will all be available is another matter. Last time I tried playing with Ubuntu on an HP tablet I couldn't get the touch-screen or the hardware buttons to talk to it. Which was particularly annoying, as for some weird reason the sound defaulted to mute, and I couldn't get drivers to make the button go. Anyway I was just playing about, so didn't care.

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Does ubunutu have an unattended install option?

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Try your luck with a Fujitsu T730/T731 or the 900 series siblings. Older units in 12 and 13.3 inch so the base hardware should have support. And Wacom digitizer (unlike the T580) so IF the touch/pen (pen only in the 730 IIRC) is supported then there.

Worst case you end up with a very powerful and long-endurance notebook with fully user-serviceable / upgradable hardware and a still good support from the manufacturer

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"Does ubunutu have an unattended install option?"

Yes, but without just simply answering "yes" to all questions, it's a bit of a bitch to set up. In a nutshell, you create an install script that decides whether to answer yes or no (or what username, other input fields and such) to things as they come up.

Sort of thing you only need to do once before rolling out to N huge number of workstations I guess, but it's a ballache to do that once.

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So far

So far this is the only Windows ultratabletbook I've seen that has me even remotely interested.

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Re: So far

With a 1080 screen I would agree with you. I'm also still wary of the battery situation. I get that they aren't user replaceable but I'd like a guaranteed way of replacing the battery as 18 months down the line it's likely to be pretty knackered. It's one thing binning a cheap android tablet due to the battery, but a 600 squid slate? Plus the first time anything else goes (ram \ ssd) you are stuffed. Same for a 200 quid droid tab, but it's a third of the cost. Perhaps I'm just showing my yorkshire roots :-)

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Re: So far

Looked at the new Sony Duo13? Only problem is "lack of user serviceable parts" otherwise the i7/8GB unit looks great and the endurance is "workday without charger". All for 1000g. Wonder if they offer a sheet batterie like the older Duo11 has. That would get 14+h for <1500g.

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Re: So far

User serviceable costs extra. Basically DELL (Latitude 10) or Fujitsu (Q702, T-Series) and maybe the Lenovo X-Series convertibles

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Advert for a MacBook Air?

a lower resolution can be an advantage when it comes to tapping: small full HD screens can be imprecise, making small checkboxes almost impossible to prod

Seriously? Have Microsoft still not got this sorted out: higher pixel density does not have to mean smaller objects. Even though Apple still haven't got this sorted, as the I-Pad Mini demonstrates, they have at least understood how to handle normal / retina displays for apps by only offering one or the other.

Non-adjustable angle of the screen when using they keyboard? Colour me unimpressed.

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"Like most Windows 8 tablets, there are compromises "

This is pretty unfair, given that they're the only tablets NOT to have the huge compromise of, "Not able to run their desktop equivalent's software".

I don't want one yet, but they are doing something pretty awesome. Comparing their battery life to an iPad's is like comparing an iPad's to a Kindle's, which have even fewer compromises.

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Caps lock?

"Even so, the caps lock key is the only really fiddly bit here, being so tiny, and has no status indicator; a must for passwords."

Really? I seem to manage just fine without looking at the Caps Lock LED on my keyboard, mainly because I so seldom need to use Caps Lock at all.

Could it be that the author is one of those who presses Caps Lock, types one letter, then presses Caps Lock again? That's quite common for some reason...

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Re: Caps lock?

If you want to tear the caps lock key out with a screwdriver, be my guest. I'd rather tear the power button out of the too-many keyboards that have a power button on them. Whose stupid idea was that? Ah yes, the Apple Mac was the first with that little insanity wasn't it?

Some people find caps lock useful, for instance, for typing things like MEMORANDUM or IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ.

Plus if you have your caps lock on while setting your password, it adds an extra layer of confusion for shoulder-surfers.

Given that caps lock is used then, it helps to have an indicator to show whether it's active. That or to have a proper old-skool clicky pushbutton switch that holds the caps lock key down when it's on.

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