Review

Acer Iconia Tab A100

This Android Tablet is the smaller younger brother of the Acer Iconia Tab A500. This diminutive device was marked for release at the same time as the A500 but the screen size involved some technical hurdles. The 7′ screen was unsupported by Androids HoneyComb until the release of 3.2.  Better late than never?

Should you buy the Acer Iconia Tab A100? Read the rest of the review and see if it’s a smart purchase.

A lot of the hardware in Android tablets has become predictable and can be ticked off the check list:

Picture of the Acer Iconia tab a100 Android Tablet

 

 

  • Nvidia Tegra2 processor/gpu
  • 2MP front facing camera, and a 5MP in the rear.
  • MicroUSB
  • micro HDMI

Does it all start to look familiar? Well it should. Google has been fairly strict about the base specs to run and support HoneyComb. This makes it a bit easier for developers to design and build for a narrower user base. Removing the barriers and costs of developing the next killer Android App. They should be showing up in the market any day now.

Look and feel

back of the Acer Iconia tab a100 tablet
back of the Acer Iconia tab a100 tablet

This is a small tablet. A 7′ screen in my hands evokes thoughts of the Nook Color, which is a pleasure to hold and to use. This tablet can fit in a jacket pocket, and that is a huge consideration. My Motorola Xoom cannot make the same claim and as a result it gets left at home when I hit the road to the local pubs, and well.. Mostly just pubs. But I digress.

This is a tablet that is easily portable. Light enough to double as a good ebook reader, and not cause you to strain after a lengthy session reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, or a marathon session of Fruit Ninja and I must remit that both of these are best served on a light comfortable tablet. Asus hasn’t much of a reputation for design flair. The Acer Iconia Tab A100 certainly doesn’t challenge thisnotion. If you are looking for this tablet to be a head turner, you are going to be let down. The lack of blinged out hipster tablet chic however is offset by the starting price tag of $329 for the 8gb and a $20 increase to get the 16gb version. Saving the twenty dollars is short sighted. The extra 8gb, accompanied by an SD Card slot that supports up to 32gb, makes this quite formidable.

Now the 7″ screen is great for portability, and transportable goodness, but it is not without trade off. The display gives you 1024×600, and decent although not great viewing angles. If you are looking for pixel perfection and color accuracy you will need to take your aspirations to something in the more expensive range. iPad 2 or the Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1. If they still sell the latter in your country. The screen is too small to comfortably watch a movie while you are making dinner in the kitchen. However if you simply use the HDMI to connect it to a TV, and it becomes a powerful media center. Use the Acer proprietary DLNA media streamer and watch your entire collection, or use it as aa full power remote to comfortably control your in home Sonos speaker system and get your groove on. While we’re on the subject, the speakers are surprisingly clean and capable on the Acer A100. This is something that needs to be considered heavily in a tablet purchase. The HP TouchPad (RIP) , had incredible speakers and was a great portable stereo as a result.

The cameras on this device are middle of the road. They are quite usable, and that isn’t something you’d necessarily expect in a cost concious tablet. Acer did what it could to make this a respectable Android tablet that is both affordable and functional. You aren’t cutting the same corners as you would in purchasing some of the lower tier models.

The next trade off is another one that results from the Iconia’s A100’s dimished size. The battery being smaller its longevity takes a decent hit. You can get roughly five hours of use out of this 7′ tablet, before it needs a recharge. With 9.5 to ten hours on the iPad’s and slightly less on the Xoom’s of the world this is someting of a trade off. If you’re watching Ugly Betty reruns back to back you will notice that the life battery life ends more quickly. This is not because you are having so much fun watching your favorite show… Watching video taxes the Tegra2 and requires some extra kick.. So if your demand for an Ugly Betty fix requires more than at 4 hours, you will need to look at a tablet with larger battery size.

This is a slightly shorter review than most, because there isn’t a huge variance between this model and many others. It is running a pure unadlterated version of Android HoneyComb. To me this matters a lot. The tablet is WiFi only, and stock Android. The benefit of this is that you aren’t beholden to some wireless telco carrier for updates. It should get updates rather quickly. With the pending release of Androids ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) the smaller screen size should prove to be less of an issue. Google is trying to unify their OS with the next OS and make it scale to all screen variants. Lets hope they are successful and put an end to the: “Your Android is teh fragmented” commentaries that is clogging up the aisles of the internet. Yes it is true. It is fragmented and taking that argument out of the purchasing decisions should be among Googles strongest pursuits.

Other Android tablets in this form factor are the aging Samsung Galaxy Tab (not the Galaxy Tab 10.1).  The benefit of this device is that it runs HoneyComb 3.2, and is more liely to update to Android Ice Cream Sandwich when Google releases it in the upcoming weeks.

Who should buy this tablet?

Anyone who considers a small screen as the most important feature of their tablet purchasing. If you want a tablet that fits in your pocket, you need this device or some really big pockets.  As cool as big pockets can be, I think the smaller tablet is a better way of achieving this functionality.

 

 



About the Author

chesterharry
chesterharry... Has a near obsessive interest in technology and has a really cool name to boot.