When you think of Android, Acer might not have the brand name clout of the bigger names such as HTC or Samsung, but where they have been strong is in the Netbook sector. Perhaps it is that success that has brought Acer’s first Android Tablet offering to market, with the Acer Iconia A500. Surprisingly this is no second rate offering and is easily comparable to the Xooms and Galaxies of this world, but without the $900+ price tag!
Read on after the break for the review.
- Fast Nvidia Tegra 250 Dual 1ghz Chip set
- 1GB RAM
- Pure AOSP Honeycomb Experience
- Affordable (Currently on sale at JB Hifi)
- A Little heavy
- Honeycomb not fully optimised
- Screen terrible in Sunlight
Acer aren’t my number one pick when it comes to hardware. I’ve seen some solid offerings from them in the Aspire One series netbook, but generally not that impressed with their other kit. But the A500 really surprised me. The screen is bright and responsive 10″ LCD running at 1280×800 and has decent viewing angles, only starting to really wash out at about the 170* angle. It is however complete rubbish in sunlight and you can see the capacitive matrix underneath it and not much else unless you crank the brightness all the way up. The casing is a brushed metal with minimal seams on the back. At 730g it comes in a bit heftier than the competition such as the iPad2′s 600g, my arm did ache after an hour or so of e-book reading. On the left side is a micro HDMI port for video and on the right an external USB for external devices, something that Galaxy and Xoom lack. Plus the standard Android fare like microSD card, volume rocker and a handy orientation lock switch! This model is Wifi Only – the A501 with 3G is coming later.
Under the hood its powered by the Nvidia Tegra 250 (Dual 1ghz) that is powering most of the Honeycomb fleet and 16gb of storage and 1gb of RAM – which surprised me as even the Asus Transformer doesnt pack in that much. Performance is consistently smooth, the Iconia has given me the fastest Angry Birds experience I’ve seen yet! Also playing the included NFS:Shift blew my Galaxy Tab 7″ out of the water!
The camera is a fairly standard 5mp rear, with LED Flash and 2mp front facing camera. Software is the standard Honeycomb camera app. They give fairly standard, if washed out image. The front facing camera is in the top right of the portrait view which makes GTalk video conversations a little awkward to hold and keep yourself in view at the same time. I can’t help thinking if it were 2 inches to the left it would be a lot easier! The battery is touted as giving 10hrs of use. I found with about 6hrs of fairly consistent web browsing and Kobo book reading the battery wore down to about 68%. So that should put it on track to something like the advertised 10hrs.
The Honeycomb OS is fairly close to standard AOSP build. It runs smooth, but as many other reviewers have stated, Honeycomb feels not quite finished. It is prone to slow downs and even a couple of crashes that I couldn’t reproduce. I have faith though that it will mature in time. There are a couple of Acer attempts at customisation, including Acer’s E-book and Multimedia Apps. These are simply lists of icons to other multimedia or e-book readers. Good work there Acer…
The Acer Iconia A500 is by no means the top of the line Honeycomb tablet. It’s heavy, its blinded in the sun, cameras are average and Honeycomb is still finding its feet. It is however fast performing, well built and is pretty much a Google Experience device. But the best thing about it, is the price!
Matthew McNutt is a guest reviewer who wrote this piece for Ausdroid.