September 1, 2011

Acer Iconia A500 review

A couple of weeks ago I bought an Android tablet, the Acer Iconia A500. Today I received an email from Acer asking to fill in a short survey to tell them what I like and don't like about my new tablet. I might as well share my thoughts on this tablet in a short review on my blog.

The Acer Iconia is one of the first generation Android Honeycomb Tablets. The specs are pretty much interchangeable. Dual core 1 GHz Tegra 2, 10 inch 1280 x 800 screen etc. Just like the Asus Eee Tab and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and many other tablets that will probably follow. Instead lets look at what makes the Acer different from all these similar tablets. The tablet is available in a 16 and 32 Gb version and you can choose if you want it 3G enabled or if you just want to use Wifi. I went for the cheapest version with 16 Gig and no mobile internet.

First lets look at the positives
The reason I went for the Acer is connectivity. Besides the standard connectors this tablet has a mini-HDMI connector and two USB ports, one for connecting to a computer and another one that can act as a USB host so you can connect a keyboard, a mouse or even external harddrives.
I'm not a big fan of proprietary skins on Android devices. I rooted my HTC Desire phone to get rid of Sense so another reason to choose the Acer is the version of Android installed on it. Apart from adding a couple of its own apps Acer hasn't changed a lot about the standard Honeycomb experience. This is the closest you can get to vanilla Honeycomb without rooting your tablet.
And last but not least I just like the way this tablet looks. The two dark metal strips along the longer sides make it stand out from other tablets. It looks and feels well made.

Of course there are also a couple of minor issues with this tablet.
First of all there is Android itself. I got the tablet with Android 3.0 installed and even though the OS itself feels stable and responsive many of the applications that were preinstalled felt flaky. Especially the Android Market and the browser crashed a lot. With the update to 3.1 many of these problems were solved but the Android Browser is still very slow on pages with some javascript. I expected better from the company that made Chrome.
Another thing that irritates me is the power adapter. It has a very short chord so when you're charging you have to sit within 1 meter from a power outlet if you want to use your tablet. And instead of connecting to the mini USB connector like most phones the tablet has a separate power connector so you can't charge the tablet from a computer.

All in all this is a really good tablet. The extra USB connector is something that is very usefull in every day use. I often just connect the keyboard from my computer when typing email and you can easilly plug in a USB stick to watch a movie. Compared to the iPad the screen dimensions are better for media consumption. You can watch widescreen movies at 720p.

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