Acer Aspire Iconia Tab A100 Tablet Review
The Acer Aspire Iconia Tab A100 is the first 7-inch tablet to run Android 3.2. The A100′s bigger brother – the Acer Iconia A500 - was relatively well received. So how does the A100 match up and how does is compare to the best selling mainstream 7-inch tablets available now?
Acer Aspire Iconia Tab A100 Strengths
- The Acer Iconia Tab A100 is a 7-inch tablet (measured diagonally) so it’s light at 417g and much more portable than larger tablets. It’s a touch heavier than the original Galaxy Tab, more-or-less on a par with the Blackberry Playbook and similar to the HTC Flyer. You can store it in a jacket pocket, or at least in a small bag.
- The design is relatively functional. It isn’t the most stylish and almost feels a little bulky. It sports a plasticy build.
- Powerful processor means that this tablet has enough power to run the latest version of Google’s tablet operating system – Android (3.2). It delivers a speedy performance, transitioning between screens, running multiple applications at the same time, and delivering high definition video. The original Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-inch slate is nippy but only provides Android 2.2 out of the box so the latest apps won’t work like they do on the Acer tablet. The HTC Flyer runs the HTC Sense user interface over Android 2.3 so a similar issue.
- It’s compatible with the web Flash technology. So it can handle web video, games and animation that you find on the internet in this format.
- The 7-inch capacitive screen of this Acer tablet is ok quality. Offering a screen resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels, it is sharp but could do with being more bright and colourful. The multi-touch function means it responds well to taps, swipes and pinch-to-zoom to navigate around the screens and when browsing the Internet.
- The Acer A100 has an 8GB or 16GB hard drive (depending on how much you’re prepared to pay) for storing files such as music, video and documents. This is not a great deal of storage and will quickly run out. However the tablet has a microSD care slot which means you can buy a microSD card, which are relatively cheap, and extend the memory up to 32GB. In this way you’d probably reserve the internal 8GB memory for apps and then keep a microSD card (or multiple cards) for all your key videos and films. Ultimately this means you have lots of options.
- The processor quality, screen, range of sensors and operating system means the Acer Aspire Iconia A100 is capable of delivering the latest 3D games, play high definition video, browse the web and stream web video (including video in the Flash format).
- Pricing is competitive and despite having a high spec and Android 3.2, it undercuts the the 7-inch HTC Flyer substantially and comes in at a similar price to the much lower spec 7-inch original Samsung Galaxy Tab.
- The Acer Iconia A100 connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi which means you’ll need to connect via your home Wi-Fi network or get online via a Wi-Fi hotspot when you’re out and about. You may have an option to create Wi-Fi hotspot from the mobile phone 3G network using your mobile phone, but you’ll need to check your smart phone has that feature and you have the appropriate mobile contract to allow you to do this. Failing this, you’re limited to a Wi-Fi connection to access the web, get new apps or download emails, whereas you can buy other Android slates that have built in 3G options such as the 3G version of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab.
- Acer provide ”clear.fi” which is software that allows a user to share content across a Wi-Fi network. For example, this means you can access files on the tablet when they are stored on your PC (such as a video or music file). You just need to install the software, ensure all the devices that are signed-in to your network are on, and you can use the Wi-Fi network to access the files.
- A few apps come pre-installed including Documents-To-Go which allows you to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. There’s also SocialJogger that let’s you access your Facebook and Twitter accounts. There’s also the usual Android apps for email, calendar, memos, music and videos. The Planner app combines a number of these into an easy-to-use interface.
- Mini-USB port is used for connecting to a PC to load files on-or-off the tablet.
- Rear-facing 5-million megapixel camera for taking still images and video. A flash is also included so you can take pictures in poor light. The camera is pretty decent, but don’t expect it to be good enough to replace your dedicated digital camera.
- Front-facing 2-million megapixel camera for video chat means you can make video calls to other people with the video call technology. It doesn’t provide a great image but good enough for video calls.
- Mini-HDMI port so you can buy a lead that will allow you to connect the tablet to your high-definition TV, and then display what’s on your tablet on the big screen TV. The uses for this would include watching a high-definition film you’ve downloaded onto the tablet, or watching web video on the big-screen.
- The speakers provide a decent quality audio experience.
Acer Aspire Iconia Tab A100 Weaknesses
- Android is still limited in the range of apps that are specifically optimised for-tablet format. You can use the Smartphone apps designed for Android, and they scale better with Android 3.2 to the larger screen format, but they simply aren’t designed to get the best out of a larger screen. This is the same issue regardless of the Android slate you might choose and at least with Android 3.2 you have the latest version to get the best choice of apps and best approach to scaling smartphone apps. This bests the 7-inch original Samsung Galaxy Tab (effectively only handles Smartphone apps) but doesn’t come close to matching the range of choice available on a Apple iPad.
- The Acer Iconia Tab A100 deals with most apps fine but some 3rd party apps are buggy and cause odd crashes. It’s equipped with an accelerometer that re-orientates the screen when you move from landscape to portrait but again this is a little sketchy at times.
- The viewing angles of the screen aren’t great and you particularly lose contrast when the tablet is viewed from the bottom at a wide angle.
- Battery life is a little low for a 7-inch tablet but still short against the premium 9- to 10-inch tablets. You get 4-5 hours of continuous video playback from a single charge. This means it may run out of charge on long journeys.
Tablet Review – Acer Aspire Iconia Tab A100
The Iconia Tab A100 is a hard one to call. It has a strong feature set and is the first tablet to run Android 3.2, but equally has shortcomings – particularly in battery life.
We’ve highlighted the shortfalls of Android in previous articles but it’s the same old issues. The largest is still the limited range of apps available that have been specifically designed for a tablet format and make full use of amount of screen real estate provided. That said this version of Android scales Smartphone apps much better than previous versions and your range of apps certainly far exceeds those available on the Blackberry Playbook.
The A100 price is reasonable, the performance is snappy and the choice of good 7-inch tablets available now is limited so this is about as good as it gets if you’re set on this size slate.
Image Source: Acer