Acer Iconia Tab A100 Review

Acer's entrance to the mobile market will be tied with the success of the Iconia Tab A100. Running Android 3.2, it's the first in the market. The only drawback is its battery life, which is too short.
Our Rating:
Franz Bicar - Franz has worked in telecoms and consumer electronics for over 10 years, working in quality control, allowing him to get his hands on the latest gadgets. He’s been writing reviews on these for over 5 years now, as well as news and blogging with a number of online publishers.

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Acer’s been a major player in the computing industry for the past few years. In 2009, Acer passed Dell as the second leading PC maker in the world. Generally, Acer is a PC/Laptop manufacturer. Lately though, they’ve been trying to penetrate the mobile market. They’ve released several forgettable mobile products and are still trying to catch up to the competition. The Acer Iconia Tab A100 is potentially the manufacturer’s hope of making a big impression in the market.

The Acer Iconia Tab A100 is the first 7-inch tablet that features Android 3.2. Most tablets currently out in the market are generally still using the older Android 3.1. THe A100 also comes in several flavors - an 8GB model, and a 16GB model for around $350. All versions comes with a microSD card slot for those people who would think 8GB or 16GB is not enough space to cover most of their needs. The A100 can support cards with sizes up to 32GB.

Acer has spent a considerable amount of their resources on the Iconia Tab. So, it’s not really surprising that the A100 is such a beauty to behold aesthetically. It has a solid build generally and materials that does not make it look cheap. The tablet has a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack, Volume buttons, an Orientation Lock switch, a Power button, and a bunch of ports on the bottom. It charges from a proprietary adapter rather than a standard micro USB connection, but it also has a micro USB port to connect to PCs, and a micro HDMI port to hook the tablet up to an HDTV.

Acer also made the A100 with their own design, without copying any of the “other” popular existing products - so its safe to say, no lawsuits here.

The Iconia Tab measures 7.7 by 4.6 by 0.5 inches. It weighs around 13.0 ounces.

The A100 sports a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of memory, and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. But this is the first Tegra 2 tablet with a 7-inch display. And, as mentioned, it’s the first tablet, 7-inch or otherwise, with Android 3.2 Honeycomb.

At the front or the tablet, you’ll have the 1024-by-600 touch-screen LCD. By default, the screen is noticeably dim and the screen is too reflective. Users need to do a little tweaking for the brightness to come on just right. Colors, however, looked good. Its screen has better detail and saturation than screens from other popular tabs.

At the bottom, you have the A100’s stereo speakers, which are pretty loud by the way. The A100 also has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Audio piped through basic earbud headphones sounded even better — well-balanced, with good midtones. Acer incorporates Dolby Mobile into its A100. The Dolby Mobile audio option comes enabled by default, and Acer says the technology should extend bass response and enhance high frequencies.

There really isn’t any significant differences between Android 3.2 and Android 3.0 or 3.1. In fact, Android 3.2 looks and feels like Android 3.0 and 3.1. Google’s apps generally behave similarly in a 7-inch screen as in a 10.1-inch screen. Honeycomb definitely makes sense, even on a smaller tablet; native apps like Mail and Gmail can really take better advantage of the display. Rather than rework the Android interface, Acer instead provides convenient apps to aggregate like apps. Preinstalled on the tablet are apps for: eReading, Games, Social, and Multimedia; within each app is a bookshelf metaphor, for organizing apps you choose to add.

Acer also supplies a number of other apps like SocialJogger, so you can keep track of Facebook and Twitter in one place; Acer’s own Planner calendaring app; a Media Server app; Clear.fi, for DLNA streaming; Nemo Player, for video and stills; MusicA, for identifying what’s playing; HW Solitaire SE; Astro file manager; Documents to Go, for viewing Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF files; and Adobe Flash 10.3.

The Iconia’s main drawback is its battery life. This is mainly due to its small 3060mAh battery. While most tabs nowadays feature a 4000mAh or larger battery, Acer chose an older option. This only gives the A100 around 3 hours, 53 minutes of video playback on a charge, not enough for a cross-country flight. In the 7-inch tablet realm, that compares poorly to the 8 hours, 15 minutes from the BlackBerry PlayBook, or the 6 hours, 32 minutes from the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

 

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Summary

We liked
  • Features Honeycomb Android 3.2
  • Excellent connectivity options
  • Original design
We Disliked
  • Battery life
  • Android 3.2 still has a lot of quirks to fix