The Acer Iconia A510 is Acer’s first tablet to be released with Ice Cream Sandwich, which is a hugely welcome development for Android tablets. Acer have chosen to leave the A510 pretty much stock Android 4.0 however there have been a few enchancements made using their Acer UX, but this doesn’t detract from the overall Ice Cream Sandwich experience and we’ll get into that more further on.
Acer has included a number of applications from the Google Play store pre-loaded on the tablet and these have seemingly been carefully chosen to enhance the tablet experience while not interfering too much in what you decide to load on the tablet. Apps pre-installed :
- Acer Print
- Astro File Manager/Browser
- AUPEO! Personal Radio
- Barcode Scanner
- HW Solitaire
- Mcafee VirusScan
- Media Server
- Polaris Office
Not a bad selection of apps, although noticeably missing is a twitter client, possibly because of the absence of a really decent looking Twitter app for 10″ tablets.
The tablet is your standard rectangular slab, when viewed in landscape, the tablet has a volume rocker and auto-rotate lock switch and microphone at the top. MicroUSB port and reset button as well as the two speakers at the bottom. The left side houses the power button and 3.5 mm headphone jack while on the right you have your Micro HDMI connector and a cover which hides the microSD card slot. On the readr of the tablet is the 5MP camera as well as a second microphone and an Acer and Olympics logo sit prominently right in the middle. Front on where you will mostly be looking at the tablet you have the 1MP front facing camera as well as the light sensor.
Extras included in the box are at a bare minimum however, you get a tablet, power supply and a manual. This is a missed opportunity to provide something like maybe a set of earphones compatible with the Dolby sound experience on the device, but that is just speculation on my part.
What we like
I was pleased to be presented with a number of ways to expand the already decent 32GB of on-board storage, I was able to insert a 32GB microSD card into the card slot and also attach a flash drive to the tablet via a USB OTG Cable. Both forms of expandable memory mounted perfectly without issue and I was able to access them and playback video/audio and load documents using the Astro File Manager application included on the tablet.
The screen is quite good when you are watching videos with bright vibrant colours and good contrast although being an LCD it lacks the better viewing angles of an IPS display but is still fairly decent. The screen definitely provides excellent quality playback on videos and pictures look very nice as well. The screen’s touch response is excellent and playing games like Dead Trigger was a pleasure although it left fingerprints on there, but these are easily removed.
The Gaming aspect of the tablet is excellent, helped along by the Quad-Core Tegra 3 CPU with each core clocked at 1.3GHz and an additional 12 GPUs backing this up the gaming on it is at this stage second to none, I found no stuttering or anything to distract you from being totally immersed in whatever game you happen to be playing.
The sound on the A510 is excellent, most likely due to the Dolby Mobile sound enhancement they’ve included. In terms of volume I played videos and music on-board a jet and turbo-prop aircraft right next to their respective engines and could hear the sound through the stereo speakers with no issues. Using a set of headphones was likewise fine in terms of quality although I don’t think my cheapish earphones did the Dolby Mobile sound included on the tablet any justice.
The inclusion of a camera on a tablet is, well absurd in my opinion but tablet manufacturers continue to include it and overall I really cannot find anything terribly wrong with the 5MP rear camera except for the lack of a flash. The close-up shots were pretty good and not too grainy and landscape shots look equally passable although if you want super high res shots you will be disappointed. As with the rear camera I find the 1MP front facing camera when used for Skype and Google Hangouts extremely serviceable and decent enough quality for its intended purpose.
Battery life was excellent, I used the tablet for a solid couple of hours during flights and during a layover in Sydney and it then turned around and remained on standby for a full day before I resumed watching more videos and surfing the web, so the inclusion of a 9800mAh battery was certainly an excellent decision on Acers part.
The fact that Acer has actually skinned the A510 with their Acer UX is actually not too much of a downside on this tablet, although this does get a mention in the next section. The modifications have really done nothing much to the general look and feel of the Ice Cream Sandwich OS. The most noticeable feature is the Acer Ring launcher which shows up on the lockscreen and in the main OS, the Ring Launcher offers shortcuts to the Browser, Search and Gallery, however these shortcuts are customisable in the settings menu.
Of the apps included I found the Clear.Fi and Media Server two extremely helpful apps, they connected straight into my network and I was able to stream media to and from the device with no issues. The rest of the apps worked as they should except for the Acer Print application which failed to find my Samsung wireless printer. The lack of Apps for 10″ tablets is getting serious as more and more tablets in this form factor are being released and both manufacturers and Google need to address this post haste.
The other thing I found which I liked on the tablet was the inclusion of a Rotation lock near the volume rocker, this is a marvellous addition and very, very handy it allows you to quickly lock and unlock without delving into the settings menu or having a rotation toggle widget permenantly on-screen.
What can be improved
There is not a lot to dislike about the Acer Iconia A510, the main gripes I have centre around the hardware in terms of build quality, materials and design of the A510.
To start with the bezel around the screen has a gap between the glass and the actual body of the unit, it is not terribly noticable until you have to swipe across the screen a few times and you finger hits the lip. I imagine that over time this gap would probably fill just from using the tablet, it’s not a huge minus as most people tend to be fairly fastidious about using their tablets with clean hands but it’s something I think could be improved upon.
Another thing I feel needs to addressed in regards to the build is the squared off ends. Whilst these square ends allow for the microSD card slot and micro HDMI port to be included, holding the tablet for extended periods of time in landscape mode where you cannot rest your arms on a table or bench starts to make the tablet feel a little bulky and makes you think longingly of the sleeker rounded corners of the Samsung or Asus offerings on the market.
Materials used to produce the Iconia A510 feel a little less than I would expect for the price tag that’s attached to the unit. Most tablets these days think that they must emulate the metallic feel that the iPad has and I feel this is the wrong direction for companies like Acer to go in. Experimenting in different materials perhaps into a polycarbonate or something different like the rubberised backing included on the Nexus 7 would be a welcome way to differentiate themselves in a world where Android tablets abound.
I mentioned above that I felt that the skinning on the tablet is not as intrusive as others on the market and the changes done such as the Ring launcher etc are not too bad, in fact can be quite helpful, the only problem with this is that changes to the base OS stand in the way of updates to future versions of Android such Jelly Bean, which this tablet would I’m sure run with no issues. I haven’t been able to find a statement from Acer regarding a Jelly Bean update to this tablet but I cannot imagine any hardware limitations on not providing an update so at this stage I have to register this in the possible improvements section.
- Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD – 1280×800 resolution/li>
- Tegra 3 Quad Core CPU 1.30 GHz
- 1 GB RAM
- 32 GB with microSD Card slot
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.1 with EDR
- Accelerometer, gyro, compass
- 5 MP Rear Camera with 720P Video Recording and 1MP Front Facing Camera
- HDMI port, MicroUSB
- Dolby Mobile sound enhancement
- Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich
- Li-Ion 9800 mAh
- 259.1×175.3×10.2 mm @ 680g
ConclusionOverall, the Acer Iconia A510 is a good tablet, it really is. There still remains the issue of what sets it apart from the plethora of Android tablets that are currently available on the market, at this stage they are charging a premium price at $579RRP for what amounts to a pretty good but not what I would describe as ‘Great’ tablet. A few tweaks to the design and materials or more importantly in my opinion a price drop would certainly make this tablet a more attractive offering over other tablets on the market.
Acer has done an excellent job in terms of the hardware supplied and this shows in the everyday usage of the unit, they’ve certainly not skimped when it comes to features and I cannot really think of any extra hardware, except a flash for the camera, that I would like to be inlcuded. The Iconia A510 is available from retailers for $579 and they also offer a $100 eGift Voucher via redemption which can be used to purchase Music from theInsong website or eBooks from Dymocks.