At First Glance, Acer’s Iconia tablet appears to be a wee hit chunky, and very solid. A closer look reveals that while it’s thicker and heavier than most tablets, it’s got good reason to be — the Iconia is the most feature-packed tablet in our roundup. It’s thicker than most because it has to accommodate all those awesome extras.
If you’re looking for a tablet running Android’s tablet OS, Honeycomb, at a price that can rival the iPad, look no further – the Iconia’s 16GR Wi-Fi tablet (no 3G) is $799, the same price as the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2. However, if you’re looking for a tablet that supports 3G – which you’ll need if you travel a lot – then you’re going to have to wait a few months. The 3G version of the Iconia is yet to launch here in India.
That said, if you’re willing to go without 3G or to wait an extra few months, the Iconia is a solid choice. The hardware is fantastic – like the iPad 2, it has a dual-core processor, solid aluminum backing, a large 10.1-inch screen, and a physical switch that locks the display in place so you can turn the tablet around and look at something upside down without the picture on screen turning as well.
The Iconia has several advantages over the iPad 2: a mini HDMT port to play media on your TV directly from the tablet; the ability to act as a wireless DLNA media server via a pre-installed app; and a USB host port so you can grab files from any USB drive.
Of all the tablets we tested, the Iconia seems to be the closest to realizing the full potential for portable video. At the moment it can only play video in 720p, but we’re told a later software update will allow the Iconia to step up to the full 1080p (video will be downscaled on-the-fly to fit the Iconia’s sub-1080p screen).
None of these extra features would he worthwhile if the Iconia didn’t have such a great display. Nothing shows off the Iconia’s ability to render extremely detailed, colorful art like the comics on the Gomixology app, and the Iconia did a fantastic job of showing off every detail in deep color, without pixelation. We’d hope so — the screen’s resolution is 1024 x 1280, the highest of any tablet we’ve tested.
The only big let-down of the Iconia is its 5MP rear-facing camera, which is mediocre and doesn’t record in HD. Given the tablet is capable of playing back video in high definition; it would be nice if it could film it, too. Tablet manufacturers still have work to do on cameras if they want to unlock the devices’ potential as portable video powerhouses.
Still, the Iconia is a lot of tablet for your money. You’re getting the features of a laptop – minus the physical keyboard-on a device that can fit in a satchel. If the device we had was 3G-capable, the Iconia could have been our top Android tablet.
At A Glance
Most full-featured tablet we’ve seen
Great as an entertainment device
Slightly too thick
No 3G models – yet
Acer Iconia Tab A500 Price:
$799 (16GB model), $949 (32GB model) Contact: acer.co.nz
The Iconia only missed out on a top spot because of its lack of 3G support – we hope it’s coming!