Acer prices Iconia W700 tablet with Windows 8 at $799

Questions remain on whether buyers will be willing to spend that much on the tablet

Acer on Thursday announced the Oct. 26 availability of the Iconia W700 tablet, which will come with an 11.6-inch screen and Windows 8, and start at US$799 in the U.S.

The Iconia W700 is less than 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) thick and weighs 1.04 kilograms. The screen will display images at a high-resolution, 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution.

It is also expected to become available in other countries on Oct. 26, including Canada, although the company did not provide specifics.

The tablet will come with Intel's power-hungry Core processors based on the Ivy Bridge micro-architecture, making the tablet a multifaceted laptop replacement. Some other Windows 8 tablets such as Lenovo's fanless ThinkPad Tablet 2 come with Intel's low-power Atom processor code-named Clover Trail, which enables longer battery life. The Iconia W700 offers up to eight hours of battery life, while Intel estimates 10 hours of battery life on Clover Trail tablets.

A competitor to Acer's new tablet will be Microsoft's Surface tablet, which will come with an Intel Core processor and Windows 8 Pro. Similarly, Asustek is expected to come out with a Windows 8 tablet with a Core processor. However, prices for the tablets have not yet been announced.

But a powerful processor has its benefits. The tablet will boot in just six seconds and return from idle mode in just one-and-a-half seconds, Acer claimed. Other features include a 5-megapixel back camera and a high-definition front camera. Either 64GB or 128GB solid-state drive storage will be available with the tablet. A micro-HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) can connect the tablet to a TV set. A protective case is included.

The tablet can connect wirelessly to a Bluetooth keyboard to make it a fully functional laptop.

Windows 8 tablets are expected to be priced at a premium compared to the iPad, which starts at $499, or Android tablets, which are available for under $200 for 7-inch models. Pricing has been a sensitive issue, especially with ultrabooks, and there are questions on whether consumers will dish out $799 for an x86 tablet.

Enterprises won't deploy Windows 8 immediately, which leaves Acer largely with consumers as potential buyers, said David Daoud, research director for personal computing at IDC.

The $799 starting price is high, and because the tablet is designed to be a laptop, other accessories like a keyboard and mouse will add to the overall cost of the tablet, Daoud said.

From a design perspective, the Iconia W700 is an interesting departure, but whether people identify with it and dole out the cash has yet to be seen, he said.

"That's the billion-dollar question," Daoud said. "Now you're going to have that versus iPad. The iPad is getting very interesting in terms of apps."

Some people buy the iPad for the applications, and Apple has an early mover advantage in that area. Microsoft is playing catch-up with Windows 8 tablet applications, Daoud said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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