Home Reviews Computers Acer’s Aspire P3-171 Tablet/Ultrabook Review

Acer’s P3 Ultrabook based tablet should be everything you want in a mobile PC/tablet. It is and it is not.

It is a very capable: 11.6”, 790g, 9.95mm thin; Windows 8 64bit; 1366x768 IPS touch tablet; powered by an Intel 3rd generation i5, 1.5GHz Core processor (turbo boost to 2GHz); – it classified as an Intel UltraBook design. Note there is a lower cost i3 Core version as well which for office style use is not underpowered either.

To finish the specifications it has 2GB ram, 120GB SSD, 5MP rear and 720p front camera, USB3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi N, and micro HDMI out. Battery life was a good six hours of constant work using Office, Internet and mail.

Where it is a little quirky is the slip on leather cover and combined keyboard. In a word it could be better, and you may end up buying an aftermarket stand and keyboard/mouse.

It is leather covered – nice - but it is easy to scuff and will get shabby over time. The tablet slips into a shell (that blocks the rear camera) that in turn slips into a groove just above the keyboard. There is no locking mechanism and if you lift the tablet, it all falls apart. The lack of a mouse or track pad is not an issue once you remember it is a 10 point touch screen. And its not good on your lap - unstable. Design-wise a simple magnetic click like the Microsoft Surface keyboard would have fixed this.

The KT-1252 keyboard has an odd layout that you need to get used to. The Function F1-12 keys are combined with the numerical keys so access is via Fn and pressing the function key. The Insert key is accessed by pressing Shift, Fn, Ins. Delete is near the space bar. After a week of solid use, you get used to it but return to a normal keyboard and you start learning all over again.

Having said that, the Chiclet style keys have sufficient throw and do not slow you down too much. The keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect with the tablet and requires separate micro USB charging (from the tablets USB port)

I played a movie and the Dolby Home Theatre sound was sufficient, although I would recommend Bluetooth headphones. The micro HDMI out was great and provided 16:9, 1080p images on a smart TV.

Where I also experienced quirks was in plugging in and removing a powered USB hub. More often, it would simply shut down the tablet and I had to manually reset it with a paperclip – this is apparently an Ultrabook foible and can be avoided by booting with the powered hub installed.

It’s a nice unit but it could have been better – the keyboard cover needs more work – but it's not enough to turn you off buying this. Sure, the next model will be Intel Haswell-based and probably give you 8-9 hours battery life, but that’s likely to be a few months away yet.

What I did not like, and again this is a personal preference, was the huge amount of Acers ‘bloatware’ that comes installed. I spent a lot of time tuning this to get rid of most of the following

Cloud: AcerCloud
Movie: Netflix, Hulu
Music: 7Digital, TuneIn
Reading: Kindle, Zinio, eReadingNow, newsXpresso, Txtr
Gaming: Cut the Rope, Shark Dash, Solitaire, Tap Tiles, Mahjong, Pinball FX2, Minesweeper
Social Network: Acer Social Jogger
Commercial: Amazon, eBay
Productivity: Evernote, Fresh Paint, Skitch
Communication: Skype
Multimedia: Acer Crystal Eye
Travel: Ctrip
Reference/Utility: Acer Explorer, ChaCha®, Encyclopaedia Britannica, iCookbook, Merriam-Webster, WeatherBug
Security: McAfee® Internet Security Suite
Productivity: Microsoft Office Trial
Backup: Acer Backup Manager, Norton Online Backup

Once I had a clean Windows device the performance with the 64bit Windows and 2GB ram was very good.

The price from Acer Store is $1049 inc GST and includes a $150 Windows 8 bonus starter pack and I think that is fair for an UltraBook design. Acer also has an extensive PC dealer channel and I think you could bag a bargain if you shopped around.

  • Rating:
    Tablet – 8.5 out of 10 – would have like 4GB ram for Windows 64bit but not a deal breaker. Lack of an SD slot will concern photographers but you can get a USB reader/hub
  • Keyboard cover – 6 out of 10 but you get used to it
  • Value – fair if you drive a bargain

Note, if you want 3G connectivity, look at the Acer Iconia W710P tablet and keyboard.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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