Acer Iconia W510: The cheapest Windows 8 tablet yet

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Acer has announced its first Windows 8 hybrid, the Iconia W510, with an iPad-matching price of $500 for the tablet alone.

The Acer Iconia W510 has a 10.1-inch, 1366-by-768 resolution display and runs on an Intel Atom chip code-named Clover Trail. It weighs 1.27 pounds and measures 0.35 inches thick.

Other specs include 2 GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage, plus a microSD card slot and a micro-USB port. Acer is also touting its instant-on technology, which can resume from standby in 1.5 seconds and can connect with previously-used wireless hotspots in 2.5 seconds.

Acer will offer a keyboard and trackpad dock for the Iconia W510, which turns the tablet into a 2.63-pound, 0.84-inch thick netbook. The dock has a full-sized USB port and its own battery for up to 18 hours of total battery life, compared with 9 hours of using the tablet alone.

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It's not clear whether the $500, 32 GB tablet-only model will have an option to purchase the dock separately, but Acer will offer a 64 GB model with the dock included for $750. For corporate customers, Acer will also sell an $800 Windows 8 Pro model that includes the dock and an extended two-year warranty.

We're just starting to get a picture of how much Windows 8 tablets will cost. In addition to the Iconia W510, Acer has also announced the W700, with Intel's Core processors and prices starting at $799. Lenovo has also announced a price of $629 for its ThinkPad Tablet 2 -- or $800 with a keyboard dock -- and Microsoft has hinted at a price range of $300 to $800 for its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets.

In general, Windows 8 tablet prices seem comparable to Apple's iPad, providing a slightly better value on specs alone and skewing higher when docking stations are included. The docks appear to add about $150 to $200 to the total asking price. Tablets that run Windows RT are expected to undercut the iPad, but so far no PC makers have announced prices for these devices. For now, Acer has the first Windows 8 tablet that actually goes head-to-head with Apple on price.

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