Acer Iconia A110 8GB Android tablet review
Tegra 3-based Asus Nexus 7 worrier?
Acer’s Iconia A110 7in Android tablet is the first real competition that Google's Nexus 7 has faced. It’s similarly sized, similarly priced and uses the same quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 underpinnings. It also runs the same Jelly Bean version of Android.
Lucky seven? Acer's Iconia A110
The main technical distinctions are that the Acer’s screen isn’t as good but to counterbalance that you get a MicroSD slot and mini HDMI port. Storage expansion and the facility to connect to a HD telly are clearly worth having, but how much poorer than the Nexus 7’s 720p IPS panel is the A110’s 1024 x 600 LCD?
With a pixel density of 170dpi, versus the Nexus 7’s 216dpi, things are certainly not as crisp or sharp. That said, the A110’s display still does a better job than any 10.1in 1280 x 800 Android tablet which has to make do with only 149dpi, so I wouldn’t want to turn this differentiating molehill into a mountain.
Mini HDMI on-board, along with micro SD storage expansion
Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with the colour saturation or the available brightness but viewing angles are nowhere near as robust as on the Nexus 7 and there is a lot of chromatic shift about the long axis. This may be a deal breaker if you anticipate regularly using your A110 with a stand to watch video.
At this point, I was planning on saying something about the Acer having a home screen that flips between landscape and portrait, a feature whose absence from the Nexus 7 is a constant niggle to me. However, since the Android 4.1.2 update rolled this feature out to all Jelly Bean devices while I was writing this review, I’ll move on.
The Acer Iconia A110’s user interface is stock Jelly Bean with no added apps, which is a mark in its favour. It uses the same T30L quad-core Tegra processor as the Nexus 7 – apparently clocked at 1.2 rather than 1.3GHz. The reduced speed, if indeed true, has no discernable effect on performance, as the benchmark scores reveal.
AnTuTu and Sunspider benchmaking results
Physically, the Acer is a little shorter than the Nexus but also a bit wider and thicker. Consequently, it has a slightly more bezel at the sides but less at the top and bottom. It’s also 50g heavier but I’d be lying if I said it was any harder to hold one-handed. There’s little in it when it comes to build quality, the Nexus having just the slightest of advantages by being the more pleasant to hold, due to its chamfered sides and soft-touch dimpled back. That’s not to say the Acer feels cheap or fragile, it doesn’t.
The Acer has by far the louder speaker of the two though. Its more than a little raucous at high volumes and the position is in just the right place to be covered by your hand when holding the device by the sides in landscape. It's a small point but I prefer the layout of the A110's sockets and ports - USB and HDMI on the upper left side and 3.5mm audio on the top - to the Nexus' everything-on-the-bottom approach.
Home screen and browser
The Acer packs a much smaller battery than the Nexus – 3,420mAh vs. 4,325 – which has a naturally deleterious effect. Looping a 720p video continually, the Acer snuffed it at just over the 4hrs 30mins mark, compared to 7hrs 10mins for the Nexus 7 under the same conditions. I should point out though that the A110 will recharge from 1 amp power sources like external battery packs, something the Nexus 7 won’t. It’s a failing of the Nexus that is beginning to annoy me.
An 8GB A110 will set you back £180 which is a tenner more than the equivalent Nexus 7 after you add post and packaging – the 8GB model only being available from Google’s Play Store. If you want to buy a Nexus 7 over the counter, you have to go for the £200 16GB model, which may give the Acer an edge in the impulse purchase stakes.
Media savvy: Which 7in Android would Yoda buy?
The A110 has a less impressive screen than the Nexus 7 and a lower capacity battery. On the other side of the mattress, it has a Micro SD card slot and an HDMI port. In my book that makes it a close call, although Android updates will roll out to the Nexus 7 faster than to the Acer. If display quality is your main desire, buy the Nexus 7 but if it’s storage flexibility that floats your boat, then the Acer is definitely worth a look. ®
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