Acer Iconia Tab A500 10in Android tablet
Well-connected Honeycomb fondleslab
The fat adapter connector on the ‘bottom’ edge (when holding the tablet in landscape mode) is designed to plug into an optional dock, rather than the keyboard contraption of Acer’s W500 Iconia Tab, which costs around £80. Yikes! Even Apple’s wireless keyboard, which can work with Macs as well as iPads, only costs £57, and I thought that was expensive. But I digress, with the A500, if you want an Acer-branded companion keyboard, the company will flog you a Bluetooth model for £50.
Top and bottom view: the connector at the bottom is for an optional dock
All of the ports are unprotected; only the microSD slot has a cover. There are good reasons for this, not least being that little port covers tend to deteriorate and fall off. However, I found that the keyboard connector gathered dust and fibres after just a week of carrying the tablet around in a shoulder bag. I can only guess what crumbs might have worked their way into the dark recess of the full-size USB port.
Switched on, the screen is clear, bright and contrasty. Its 1280 x 800-pixel resolution is effectively reduced by an on-screen navigation bar occupying roughly 45 pixels along the bottom edge in whatever orientation you hold the tablet. That’s still good enough to play 720p HD movies, of course.
Acer also markets an Iconia Tab W500 Windows fondleslab, but the A500 edition of the Iconia Tab runs the Android 3.0.1 operating system, which I found to be stable. I deliberately installed and ran some poor-quality apps intended for smartphones running older versions of the Android OS, and while some of these inevitably bombed out, none succeeded in taking the OS with it.