The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is a 10.1-inch Android-based tablet, designed to compete with the iPad 2 in terms of features. It's not mine to keep, but since I had several days to mess around with it, I decided to do a review.
The Iconia is a sleek glass and aluminum device, although it does feel a bit on the cheaper side. Additionally, something about the material and the way it's curved makes it hard to get a solid grip on the device with one hand – it's fairly slippery.
Connections are plentiful. There is a proprietary dock connector on the bottom. The right edge contains a reset hole, USB host port (for connecting a flash drive or camera), USB guest port (for connecting the Tab to a computer), standard barrel jack for charging, micro SD slot, orientation lock switch, volume buttons, illuminated power button, headphone jack, and micro HDMI port. In other words: far more options than the iPad.
The Iconia features a 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen with 1280x800 resolution, dual cameras, microSDHC slot, 1 GB of RAM, and a dual-core 1 GHz Tegra 250 SoC CPU. This hardware is mated with Android 3.0 Honeycomb and runs it quite well.
There are no hardware-based buttons, but Honeycomb's navigation bar on the bottom does a good job of getting around this limitation. With a tablet like this which will never end up in a pocket, there isn't much of a need for hardware buttons in my book.
The tablet comes with two cameras, as seems pretty standard nowadays – one front-facing for video chat via Skype, and a rear-facing one for taking standard pictures. Quality is pretty standard, and the rear camera does not have a flash. If anything else, the large screen brings out the imperfections in the images.
Comparisons with the iPad
One thing that struck me about the Iconia is its less "smooth" experience. From the jerky animations to the inconsistent applications, the overall experience isn't as smooth as one might expect from an iPad. However, the Iconia more than makes up with its bigger screen, Flash support (which makes a world of difference when watching videos and playing games on that spacious screen), and more open development. Hardware-wise, the iPad wins with its build quality, but the Iconia Tab wins with its connectivity options and bigger screen.
I did not buy this tablet, but after using for a bit, it's starting to grow on me. The $450 price tag competes very well with the iPad, giving you more features and power in exchange for the iPad's smoother experience. Either way, it's a nice device for first-time tablet users.
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