- Review Date: 7/15/2013
- Bottom line: The Acer Aspire P3-171-6820 is an affordable tablet hybrid powered by an Intel Core i5 CPU. It offers a responsive, albeit low resolution, 11.6-inch touch-screen, a detached Bluetooth keyboard, and relatively good battery life, but there are better performing hybrids out there.
- Pros: Ten-point touchscreen. Good battery life. Reasonably priced.
- Cons: Middling performance. Tablet not secure when parked on keyboard. Relatively low-res display.
The Acer Aspire P3-171-6820 is a cleverly designed hybrid/convertible tablet featuring a ten-point touch-screen, an ultra-low voltage Core i5 processor, a Bluetooth keyboard case, and a 120GB solid state drive. The keyboard comes in handy for those times when only a keyboard will do, but it doesn't do a very good job of supporting the tablet and it doesn't have a touchpad. Priced at just under $900 (list) it is relatively affordable as far as hybrid go, but it can't match the performance of similarly priced hybrids, including our current Editors' Choice, the Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro.
Design and Features
The P3-171-6820 is wrapped in a sleek brushed silver aluminum chassis that weighs 1.7 pounds and measures 11.6-by-7.5 -by-0.04 inches (HWD). A micro-HDMI port and a full-size USB 3.0 port share space on the left side of the tablet with a microphone, rest button, and the power jack. On the right side are a headphone/speaker jack, the power button, a battery status indicator, and a volume key. There are two air vents on the top, a rear-facing five-megapixel camera on the back, and a 720p HD camera embedded at the top of the screen.
There are two small speakers embedded in the bottom of the tablet. Combined with Dolby Home Theater software they deliver a much bigger sound than their size would indicate, although bass response is non-existent. Missing is a card reader slot.
The 11.6-inch glossy screen has a maximum resolution of 1,366-by-768, which is disappointing as it can't display video in full (1080p) high-definition like the Microsoft Surface Pro and the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T (XE700T1C-A01US). However, it does a good job with 720p content, delivering rich colors, sharp imagery, and good viewing angles. The screen uses 10-point touch technology, which provides effortless and accurate swiping, gesturing, pinching, and zooming.
Unlike the Sony VAIO Duo 11 (D11213CX) and Samsung 700T, the Aspire P3's keyboard is detached and stays that way as it uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with the tablet. Simply snap the tablet into the keyboard case, press the power button on the upper part of the keyboard deck, slide the screen into the groove above the keyboard, and you're ready to type. Be careful, though; the tablet doesn't sit very snug in the groove and can be knocked loose with slight pressure to the top of the screen.
Typing is relatively comfortable but those with big hands may feel a bit cramped. There's no room for a touchpad here either, but there is a mini-USB port on the upper left side. The black textured keyboard case adds 0.78-inch to the P3-171-6820's overall thickness and 1.32-pounds to the overall weight.
The 120GB drive comes loaded with Windows 8 and the usual assortment of apps including Skype, Amazon Kindle, Netflix, and trail versions of MS Office and McAfee Internet Security Suite. There's also eShopping, eReading, and iCookbook programs, as well as Acer Cloud and Nero Backitup software.
Rounding out the feature set are Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 radios, a mini-USB to full-sized USB adapter (for use with the keyboard), and a micro-HDMI to VGA video dongle. Acer covers the P3 with a standard one-year warranty.
The Aspire P3 is powered by a 1.5GHz Intel Core i5-3339Y processor, 4 GBs of memory, and Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000 GPU. It's score of 3,750 trailed the Surface Pro (4,768) by more than 1,000 points and the Samsung SmartPC Pro 700T by around 700 points. The P3 came in last on our Cinebench R11.5 CPU test with a score of 1.80 while the Surface Pro scored a 2.39.
Multimedia performance was similar; the Aspire P3's Photoshop (8:25) and Handbrake (2:01) encoding times were significantly longer than the Microsoft Surface Pro (6:11 and 1:28, respectively), while the Core i7-fueled Asus Transformer Book TX300C led the pack.
Most tablets come up short when it comes to gaming and the Aspire P3 is no different. It managed a paltry 8 fps on our medium quality Alien vs. Predator test and 7 fps on our medium quality Heaven benchmark test. On the plus side, video played smoothly without any sign of chop or stutter.
The Aspire P3's 4-cell lithium-ion battery lasted 5 hours 11 minutes on our battery rundown test. That's right up there with the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro (5:12) and a bit longer than the Dell XPS 12 (5:09), the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (5:00), and Microsoft Surface Pro (4:58). The Asus TX300C held onto its lead with a battery time of 7:35, but it needed two batteries to do so. Without the help of the secondary keyboard case battery, the Transformer Book lasted 4:47.
With the Acer Aspire P3-171-6820 you get a tablet and an Ultrabook in one slim, affordable package. Its 10-point touch-screen is ideal for swiping your way through Windows 8 apps, and you'll never have to worry about reattaching the Bluetooth keyboard (but you may want to take care not to knock the tablet off its perch while typing). Its battery provided over five hours of unplugged computing power, but when it came to performance, it couldn't keep pace with the competition. If you can spare an extra $100, the Editors' Choice Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro offers better performance as well as a 1,920-by-1,080 screen, a digitizer pen, an SDXC card reader, and a slightly bigger solid-state drive.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.