Saturday, July 7, 2012

Acer Iconia Tab A500

Last month, the Motorola Xoom was the alone clearly accustomed Android 3.0 book accessible in the United States. Now there are four -- the T-Mobile G-Slate accustomed aftermost week, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 this week, and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is on auction today, bold you can acquisition one. All accept the aforementioned basal silicon inside, but oh-so-slightly altered approaches to shape, such that bulk ability candidly be the chief agency these days. That's area we anticipation this WiFi-only Acer Iconia Tab had an edge, ablution at $450, but now that ASUS has annoyed the money timberline with a $400 bulk for the Eee Pad Transformer, we agnosticism added bulk tags will stick. It could be the atomic of differentiators that accouterment your assessment in favor of a accurate slate. What's a -to-be book applicant to do? Join us on a bout of the Acer Iconia Tab A500's accurate allowances and quibbles afterwards the break, and we'll acquaint you.


We aboriginal saw Acer's 10-inch Android book bristles months ago -- aback it didn't accept so abundant as a name -- but by golly, it doesn't attending like the accouterments has age-old a distinct day. In some ways, that's a admirable thing, as we're big admirers of the admirable brushed aluminum case, which plays off of the iPad artful afterwards attractive like a arrant clone. On the added hand, we were aghast to acquisition that a few of the capricious architecture decisions we noticed in beforehand prototypes accept agitated over to the final anatomy -- that aluminum sandwich has actual arresting seams (one snagged an armhair) and the aback sometimes creaks aback squeezed. At 1.69 pounds and 13.3mm thick, the A500's best absolutely portable, but still hardly heftier than the Xoom, and of advance it feels absolutely ample beside an iPad 2. The angled edges accomplish single-handed account possible, but the weight agency you won't demand to authority it over your bed. Abundant of that 

Like best Android Honeycomb tablets, the Iconia Tab's advanced is all bezel and awning (and a tiny front-facing cam), carefully advised afterwards any buttons to let you authority and use the slate in any orientation. However, clashing best of its competitors the Iconia Tab has an acclimatization lock about-face (on its "top" edge) to save you the agitation of digging through a software menu. There's additionally a aggregate rocker up top, which performs a accurate acclimatization ambush of its own -- it's contextual, acceptation the about-face changes aggregate up or bottomward depending on how the book is held. Sadly, both of these buttons are fabricated of bargain plastic, sunk into the aluminum frame, and rather difficult to press, which somewhat detracts from the about chic activity of the Iconia Tab. There's additionally a artificial accessory appropriate abutting to the buttons, area you can admit a microSD agenda (yes, they assignment out of the box) and a bare amplitude area we apprehend the AT&T archetypal (or perhaps, the Verizon LTE adaptation that abolished into the ether) would abundance its SIM slot.

Moving assimilate the larboard side, we accept the clear-cut ability button, which doubles as the charging light, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a mini-HDMI port. We're hardly afflicted that Acer couldn't charge a full-size HDMI atrium in the copious amplitude here, or at atomic accommodate a mini-HDMI cable in the box. Regardless, the video affiliation works adequately well, bold full, acknowledging affectation apery at 720p resolution, admitting adversity from a bit of overscan. (Acer says 1080p video-out will be accurate in a Q2 update.) On the bottom, there's aloof a advancing adapter for the alternative charging berth with bittersweet remote, and on the appropriate ancillary you'll acquisition the committed ability jack and a brace of USB slots: one micro-USB to alteration abstracts to the tablet, and one full-size USB anchorage which connects with both your accumulator drives and keyboards appropriate out of the box. (Again, you'll charge to delay for an Acer amend to accredit USB abrasion support.) Aftermost but not least, the aback has the Iconia Tab's blah bristles megapixel camera with a distinct LED beam in the upper-right-hand bend -- added on that in a bit -- and a brace of ablaze stereo speakers forth the basal edge.

We'll be aboveboard actuality -- Speakers accept been an reconsideration on best every book we've seen, and they usually ambit the area from "you'll demand headphones" to "what are you accomplishing to my ears?" That's not absolutely the case here. Acer's tiny speakers -- aggrandized by some Dolby Mobile diabolism -- complete acceptable abundant to share. They're still appealing tinny, apperception you, and abridgement any allusive bulk of bass, but the complete acreage they aftermath was affluent and abounding abundant to accompany movies and games, and articulate acceptable whether the book was captivated in our ample easily or lying collapsed adjoin a adamantine surface.


And acknowledgment to the adequately arch examination angles of Acer's 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 TFT LCD display, administration such multimedia ability absolutely accomplish sense. It's no IPS screen, to be sure, and we won't accomplish any excuses for the absurd bulk of bonfire and raw fingerprint grease admiring to its mirror-like finish, but for a plain-jane LCD panel, it's decidedly good. Text is crisp, colors pop, whites get blindingly ablaze and blacks adequately dim, and those appearance alone ablution out hardly aback beheld at angled angles. 

Acer's capacitive digitizer is additionally acquiescently acknowledging -- Honeycomb struggles to accumulate up -- and advance ten abounding credibility of acquaintance accompanying (we checked) for whatever multi-finger gestures app developers ability eventually cycle out. Weaknesses accommodate pixels arresting with the naked eye and the near-uncertainty of actuality able to see annihilation on the awning outdoors, but we've apparent affluence of sub-$1,000 laptops that ambition they had the awning Acer brings to the table here.

Performance and array life

We've said abundant about the almighty achievement of the dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 system-on-chip, and as abundant as we ragged on NVIDIA's appearing disability to bear the processor aftermost year, it's at the affection of some of our admired accessories today -- including the T-Mobile G2x and the Motorola Atrix, not to acknowledgment every Honeycomb slate. However, Acer oh-so-slightly bucks the trend actuality by accouterment the A500's Tegra 2 with 1GB of DDR3 RAM -- acceptable faster than the DDR2 chips acclimated in its abutting competitors.
Sure enough, the slate seemed hardly speedier in our criterion suite, as area the Xoom pulled bottomward 1,801 in the general-purpose Quadrant analysis (and the T-Mobile G-Slate did 1,879) the Iconia Tab pulled advanced of the backpack with a account of 2,228 and pushed 2,300 several times. The A500 additionally consistently delivered over 42 MFLOPS in Linpack -- anamnesis that it took a overclocked 1.5GHz Xoom to bonfire through 47 MFLOPS. The A500 alike pulled hardly advanced in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark, commutual a run in aloof 1,988ms, area the Xoom took 2,042ms. Still, those aren't awfully cogent differences, and in real-world testing we didn't see a noticible appulse -- in fact, if anything, the graphical achievement had a brace niggles on our Acer analysis unit. The A500 plays 720p (H.264) video like a agreeableness (though not 1080p) and does able-bodied in Android 3.0's scattering of graphically accelerated games, but on attenuate occasions we noticed some graphical bribery aback arena assertive videos in RockPlayer or scrolling Android menus, the brand of which never circumscribed up in our Xoom testing.

No, our only genuine disappointment with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 was its sustained battery life.

Battery Life
Acer Iconia Tab A5006:55
Apple iPad 210:26
Apple iPad9:33
Motorola Xoom8:20
T-Mobile G-Slate8:18
Archos 1017:20
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook7:01
Samsung Galaxy Tab6:09
Dell Streak 73:26

Acer includes a brace of 3260mAh batteries beneath that agleam rear cover, and for the best allotment they formed aloof fine. The array beat still apprehend 80 percent afterwards a day of idling, and had alone biconcave to 53 percent by the time we woke up the abutting morning -- with two advance email accounts consistently active over WiFi the accomplished while. Afterwards charging up already again, and with abstinent use of email, web, a smidgen of video and gaming, and affluence of music playback during a added day, we hit the pillow with 32 percent of array activity remaining. However, aback it came time for our accepted array cesspool analysis (where we bend the aforementioned standard-definition video with the awning at about 65 percent brightness, and WiFi on) the A500's lithium-ion beef gave us alone 6 hours and 55 account of playback, a acceptable afterimage worse than any 10-inch Honeycomb book we've activated appropriately far. Apperception you, that's still abundant action to aftermost you a transcontinental flight, but it's a little anemic compared to the alternatives here, and that's hasty because both the basal silicon and batteries actuality are allegedly identical to the actual Android competition.


We're not abiding what we can say about Honeycomb that you haven't heard before, but we'll try anyhow: Android 3.0 is a beautiful, anatomic operating arrangement that lacks austere software abutment and has absolutely a few quirks to boot. Bold abundant of us buy Android tablets, the minds of developers about the apple are absolutely accountable to change, but for now, you can apprehend a admirable browser, Gmail client, music player, calendar, photo browser, babble and maps application, forth with whatever added Android buzz software you can get to appropriately run on the thing. Acer absolutely includes its own acclaim of applications to get you started, but they aching added than they advice -- laughably, about every one duplicates the functionality of an absolute Honeycomb app, best of them accomplish worse, but Acer sticks them appropriate beneath your adenoids about by accession them to a set of adored app drawers.

Here's the basal rundown:

LumiRead is a simple e-book clairvoyant that redirects you to the web browser to absolutely grab any books, an odd accession aback Google's own Books is a tap away; SocialJogger is a Twitter and Facebook cachet amend browser with colossal fonts and a acutely apathetic UI that could be replaced with the brand of TweetDeck in an instant. There's additionally NemoPlayer, an animal (but speedy) photo, video and music navigator that pales in allegory to Honeycomb's fast and admirable Gallery and Music apps; Clear.Fi, addition multimedia browser that's hardly slower but prettier; and MusicA, a Shazam-alike that somehow had adversity acquainted a cardinal of pop hits. The two absolute additions actuality are Acer's Media Server, which lets the A500 beck agreeable to networked computers and DLNA-capable rigs, and Photo Browser 3D, which uses the tablet's inertial sensors to cast through graphically adorable agenda scrapbooks of your camera images.


It's aloof a abashment Acer didn't put a little added accomplishment in to accomplish the slate's cameras worthwhile. There are two photo-taking accouterments on the Iconia Tab A500 -- one 2 megapixel webcam up front, and a 5 megapixel imager in aback -- and we're apologetic to say that neither is absolutely account your effort. Color reproduction absolutely isn't bisected bad on the rear camera, and it can absolutely booty adequately appealing macro shots in ablaze light, but we couldn't get the lens to focus on capacity added than a few anxiety abroad -- which resulted in endless of bleared images, causeless to say. We're still not awash on the abstraction of demography photos application a ten-inch slab of glass, regardless, but we accept aggrandized absoluteness developers (and video babble engineers) with acknowledge Acer for their inclusion.

As you can see in our sample video above, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is technically able of 720p recording, but we'd be hard-pressed to alarm it high-definition actuality -- alone in a baby window on a webpage and with the book captivated altogether still does it alike attending alike passable. Compression artifacting crops up aback authoritative any accelerated motion, and the abbreviate focus rears its arch again, abashing aggregate added than a few anxiety abroad from the slate's sensor. Audio is additionally problematic. Alike the wind generated by artlessly walking outdoors deadened best aggregate else.


All in all, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is a solid allotment of hardware, if you accept to accept an Android book appropriate now, but we don't apperceive if we could acclaim it in acceptable censor over some of the competitors on offer. Honestly, we're still hardly capricious about Honeycomb itself, and the constancy of the Tegra 2 processor, accustomed the abridgement of Android 3.0 apps and acceleration at which OEMs are adopting faster and added able silicon respectively. At present, ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer seems the accessible best if you can't allow a G-Slate -- bold prices break the aforementioned -- but at the aforementioned time, we don't anticipate you'll be wholly affronted with Acer's book if brushed aluminum's your thing. Aloof accumulate that AC adapter handy.


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Robbert said...

Acer Iconia Tab A500 is great tab and its applications quite interesting.
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