Acer Iconia A100 7in Android tablet
Pocket-sized and throbbing with power
Review Hey, tablet geeks out there, do you remember what you hated most about Samsung’s original 7in Galaxy Tab? The grainy display, the glitchy software, the lack of memory, the poorly located buttons that you kept pressing by mistake?
Designed for portrait usage
I suspect Acer drew up the same list because its Iconia Tab A100 is essentially what the 7in Galaxy Tab isn’t. Not everything has been dealt with – the A100 is actually thicker and weighs more than the Galaxy Tab, Doh! – but Acer has done enough to change my previously low opinion of 7in tablets.
To be clear: I found the A100 to be extremely usable on the move, much more so than any 10in tablet. There’s something special about being able to slip it in and out of a coat pocket whenever I like rather than rummaging for "my proper tablet" in my man-bag.
Actually thicker - and heavier - than the 7in Samsung Galaxy Tab
If 10in is Steve Jobs’ sweet spot for work-and-fun tablets, I'm coming to the opinion that 7in is the sweet spot for computing on the hoof. If I want to check my social media, play a game, dash off an email, read a book or research a topic, reaching into my pocket for an A100 wins hands down against the fiddliness of a diddy little smartphone or the two-handed, sit-down effort required by a 10in tablet.
My personal list of must-have features on a tablet include USB and HDMI connectivity through non-proprietary adapter cables, an SD card slot, and a quality main camera with video recording. The Iconia Tab A100 ticks all these, throwing in GPS and 1GB Ram for good measure, although I’m not sure about the value of stereo speakers when they’re only a few centimetres apart.
And, BTW, there are some similarly priced models out there with only 512MB of Ram, so check before you buy.
Thanks to Android 3.x, the tablet dispenses with the need for physical navigation buttons, although Acer has built a touch-sensitive Home button into the bezel anyway. This will help beginners on those occasions when Android 3.2 turns the on-screen navigation icons into unrecognisable blurry dots, perhaps.
The A100 is still thick and heavy for its size: Kindle it ain’t
Most impressive on this tablet is performance, notably for gaming and general app launching. If I expected a 7in Iconia Tab to be less powerful than its original 10in version, I was proved wrong. Benchmarks suggest it to be the fastest Android tablet I've tested to date.
The AnTutu test comes up here with a score of 4923. That compares to just 3739 for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, itself just higher than the Motorola Xoom.
For all that, I found battery life to be shorter than expected: a daily recharge with the compact AC adapter seemed necessary, while for other tablets I can usually manage at least a couple of days between recharges. The unit also failed to wake from sleep as quickly as I would have liked, on several occasions fooling me into a complete restart because I had assumed it had shut down.
There's a 5Mp camera round the back
My most serious concern was the extent to which the display quality changed according to viewing angle. A gentle tilt should not cause a notable difference in brightness and clarity, but regrettably this was the case on the A100.
Despite the tablet’s display and battery life failing to reach my high expectations, I enjoyed using it during my week-long test. Sure, the 7in screen’s resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels is barely more than an iPhone 4’s 960 x 640, but the Iconia Tab A100’s physical size makes just about everything easier to do, especially typing, without the dinner-plate juggling demanded by 10in tablets. ®
Thanks to Acer Direct for the review sample
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