Reviewed: Acer Iconia A500 tablet

Reviewed: Acer Iconia A500 tablet
Rating
Overall: Not yet rated

The A500 is 5.3mm thicker and 160g heavier, which will be a deal breaker for many users, although the price is certainly right. But Acer has definitely produced an alternative, if not a killer, that Android fans will appreciate.

Price
Price: $579
> Pricing info

The Acer Iconia A500 is a fast and sleek Honeycomb (Android 3.0) tablet with an impressive array of connectivity options.

 

 Over the past few months, we’ve bene cautiously optimistic about Android tablets, generally saying that while we didn’t mind them, we were definitely waiting for Honeycomb (Android 3.0) to arrive before we got too excited.

Well, Honeycomb is here and the Acer Iconia A500 is the first tablet running it that we’ve had the chance to do a long term test on – so what do we think? The Iconia A500 is just one of the Iconia range recently released by Acer, including the 7in A100, the W500 Windows Tablet and the Dual-screen Iconia.

In pictures: Hands-on with Acer Iconia dual screen touchbook

The A500 comes in a few different flavours – 16GB and 32GB, as well as Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi plus 3G. For the purpose of this test we looked at the 16GB Wi-Fi only model.  

Does size matter?

Of the rather large number of tablets that have crossed the PC&TA Labs desks of late, the A500 is easily one of the best looking. The brushed metal exterior is an extremely nice change from the glossy black or plastic finish that’s so prevalent in other tablets. It adds a little weight, but at 762g (slightly more than Acer suggest on its spec sheet) the A500 certainly isn’t a wrist breaker by any stretch of the word.

At 13.3mm, the A500 is a little thicker than most, but any thinner and there’d be issues fitting in the USB port. In addition to USB, there’s also mini-HDMI out, microUSB, microSD, a headphone jack and a proprietary docking port. A volume switch and an orientation lock button round out the set.

The Acer Iconia A500 is one of the best looking tablets on the market.


 Performance wise, the A500 is a treat, making excellent use of its dual core Tegra 2 1GHz processor. The OS runs crisply and quickly, even with all animations – including an animated desktop – turned on. Cold boot-up is just under 42 seconds and the browser was able to fully render the ABC site in slightly over four.

 

The Acid3 test results were also extremely encouraging, with a full 100% being scored. At all times, whether gaming, browsing, checking email or even using the virtual keyboard to write, the A500 felt almost over-powered compared to many of the tablets we’ve tested.  

Video treats

Streaming video via the ABC iView service was quick and crisp, with excellent sound, although we were unable to stream video from a home media hub using the A500, with the device insisting that streaming was not supported and the file needed to be copied fully. This was notably strange as the original Samsung Galaxy Tab, a vastly less powered device, was able to stream the same file with no issues.

Acer has included its clear.fi DLNA-based technology for just such a function – it’s an extra step, but the interface is simple, easy to use and connects quickly to any home network.

We also had some issues with the USB port initially, but after downloading a free file browsing app from the Android marketplace, we were soon able to browse and access USB-stored content.

 

The USB port was initially problematic.

 

Battery life seemed solid, with 46% remaining after the testing and having the A500 left on and in standby mode for 48 hours. While we hadn’t done anything super intensive – such as watching a full length movie – it’s encouraging given some of the poor battery life we’ve seen in mobile devices of late.

Honeycomb performance

In all, Acer has produced a very solid and well-designed tablet. Build quality is excellent and the overall performance is impressive. While much of our enjoyment can be attributed to (finally) being able to use Honeycomb, the A500’s hardware allows the OS to show off its strengths.

As a new OS, Honeycomb takes a little getting used to: some of the functions that are familiar to Froyo and Gingerbread users are a little different, and the app store still has an emphasis on apps for phones rather than anything maximised for tablet use, but overall the experience is enjoyable and productive.

Of course in the current market one cannot discuss tablets without mentioning the iPad 2. The A500 is 5.3mm thicker and 160g heavier, which will be a deal breaker for many users, although the price is certainly right. But Acer has definitely produced an alternative, if not a killer, that Android fans will appreciate.

Source: Copyright © PC & Tech Authority. All rights reserved.

See more about:  acer  |  iconia  |  tablets  |  mobilecomputing
 
 

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Comments: 12
smadge1
23 June 2011
I'm not convinced 10-inch tablets are for me, I very much prefer 7-inches. Bring on the Iconia A100 (they need to modify their specs to run Honeycomb on it, but it will be worth it)


Comment made about the PC & Tech Authority article:
Reviewed: Acer Iconia A500 tablet?
The Acer Iconia A500 is a fast and sleek Honeycomb (Android 3.0) tablet with an impressive array of connectivity options.

What do you think? Join the discussion.
smadge1
23 June 2011
Oh, and your link to "the Iconia range recently released by Acer" is pointing to an article about the Galaxy tab...
rubaiyat
24 June 2011
All the tablets and phones with glossy screens are a pain in sunlight or even light shadow. Be nice if someone addressed this.

I've used the Iconia, it seems nice but none of the stores fully set it up with the Internet so it is hard to really tell how well it works. This is the biggest PITA with all non-Apple products. You have to buy them to find out if they are any good.

Literate_Truckie
24 June 2011
The bigger the better for me. I love my Desire but the bigger the screen, the better for us oldies(+50) that need to zoom text a bit more.
On the Tablet versus notebook debate, a lot of what I do now is browsing and reading email, so a Tablet would do me 90% of the time in the comfort of the lounge. These Acers do look nice and have a lot more connectivity options over the iPad as far as I'm concerned. I am an Android fanboi after my Desire and the freedom it has compared to the fruit offering.
Wi Fi only is fine for me as I can can use my Desire as a portable hotspot if I need to without another mobile data plan.
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
24 June 2011
rubaiyat wrote:
All the tablets and phones with glossy screens are a pain in sunlight or even light shadow. Be nice if someone addressed this.

Matte screen protectors are a solution.
Paulmerc
25 June 2011
I am quite keen on buying one of these how ever the typing action on the on screen keyboard is shocking - heaps of lag and inaccurate - but this has never been mentioned.

Also I love that it has usb but I understand that you cannot use a dongle modem on it as it cannot run the software is this correct?
rubaiyat
25 June 2011
.:Cyb3rGlitch:. wrote:
rubaiyat wrote:
All the tablets and phones with glossy screens are a pain in sunlight or even light shadow. Be nice if someone addressed this.

Matte screen protectors are a solution.


No they are not. May as well spit on the glass and wipe it with your sleeve.
rubaiyat
13 July 2011
Having now seen the Acer Iconia and Asus' Transformer side by side I'd pick the Transformer every time.

The screen and legibility are like chalk and cheese.
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
13 July 2011
I've heard good things about the Transformer.
petergaskin
19 July 2011
daughter has bought the Acer Iconia. loves it as a toy. Does not believe that it will replace her notebook.
main use - replace her kobo ereader - which she kept breaking - coke and ereaders just do not work!
Hopefully the iconia is made of tougher stuff.
jasmortonn
24 January 2012
I am absolutely agog on affairs one of these how anytime the accounting activity on the on awning keyboard is abominable - abundance of lag and inaccurate - but this has never been mentioned. Also I adulation that it has usb but I accept that you cannot use a dongle modem on it as it cannot run the software is this correct.
ianmarcuss
28 January 2012
I am quite thinking about purchasing one of these how ever the writing measures on the on display key pad is astonishing - plenty of lag and incorrect - but this has never been described. Also I really like that it has usb but I realize that you cannot use a dongle device on it as it cannot run the software.
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