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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Acer Iconia A1 tablet hands-on review

Acer has finially launched an Android tablet that is going to compete with its rivals both in terms of spec and more importantly price. We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the Acer Iconia A1, which took place in New York, and managed to secure some hands on time with the device, which will be available to buy in the Uk “from the end of May”. Here’s out Acer Iconia A1 hands on review.

The budget Android tablet market is still in its infancy, but there is definitely a blueprint which companies are following when it comes to making the devices. The Acer Iconia A1 doesn’t stray far from this blueprint at all, which isn’t a bad thing in itself. That’s the nature of the budget beast I suppose. See also Group test: what's the best Android tablet?

From our time with the Acer Icoina A1, we’d have to say that the device is pretty impressive. It’s a good size, the screen is big and sharp (ish) and although the device isn’t a speed demon it’s still pretty nippy.

The A1 certainly doesn’t feel cheap and nasty in terms of its build quality and finish, but at the same time it is definitely not going to win any tablet beauty contests (if there are such things). The white plastic back is pretty enough, and doesn’t feel flimsy, but the design isn’t really something you’d write home about.

Weighing in at 460g, the Iconia A1 is definitely not a light tablet, especially when you consider the iPad mini weighs a puny 308g and is in a different league to this in terms of its spec. That said, if someone asked me “does the A1 feel heavy”, I would have to admit that it did not. I guess what I am trying to say is that, on paper it looks like it’s carrying a bit of timber, but it’s definitely not too heavy to use with one hand, which is pretty important, as that’s one of the main benefits of having a small tablet!

One area where I feel the Acer Iconia A1 lets itself down is with its finish around the edges. As you can see from the images, there is a weird, sort of, two-tiered finish to the device, which makes it look as if Acer has designed the front and back of the tablet to different briefs.

The A1 doesn’t have the best screen in the word. Measuring in at 7.9-inch, with a resolution of 768 x 1024 pixels, giving it a 162 ppi pixel density - that’s what you expect from a budget tablet – but importantly the screen didn’t look noticeably bad.

Where the Acer Iconia A1 really excels is with its Ford Focus-easque specs. Confused? Don’t be. Acer has really thought about what people want from a budget tablet – much like Ford did with the Focus - and deliver it here. A good camera? Yup. 5MP. A nippy processor? Aye. A Quad-core 1.2 GHz. Good storage options? You bet. Available in 16GB or 32GB models.

The real kicker for the A1 is that it comes with a SD slot so you can further expand the memory by up to 64GB. That’s probably the single feature that makes the £149.99 Acer Iconia A1 stand out from the crowd…oh and it boasts a 7-hour battery life which isn’t bad either.

Last but not least, is the OS and software. It comes with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (latest Android OS), complete with all of its perks such as Google Now and improved integrations with Google services such as maps, YouTube, Gmail, Search and access to Google’s vast Play store for tons of Apps, Books and Video content. Acer also made a big deal about the A1’s Touch WakeApp feature which allows you to ‘turn on’ the device by touching 5 fingers on the screen. We found this feature nice, but pretty unremarkable,

Watch this space, as we will be bring you a full review shortly.

A1-810 (8GB/Wifi) - End May - £149.99

A1-811 (3G) - End of July - £209.99

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