The Acer Iconia Tab A500 was announced back in the month of May as Acer’s first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet. As you all know, Acer is well known for making affordable netbooks and laptops and has been pretty successful at it. The Iconia A500 Android tablet isn’t an exception to the Acer business philosophy because it is actually one of the cheapest 10.1-inch android tablets in the market and is currently competing against the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.
You can get your hands on the A500 tablet for $449.99 almost anywhere unless you find it on sale like it is here. This tablet doesn’t support 3G and only works on a Wi-Fi network. But please, do not underestimate this Android tablet because it has some very good features making it a contender for the best tablet of the year. The only way to know wh, is to check out our Acer Iconia Tab A500 full review below.
Design and Hardware
The first thing you’ll see once you pick the Acer Iconia A500 is the teardrop shape (when in landscape mode) all wrapped in a premium aluminum-brushed casing. We think that it makes the tablet a bit easier to hold and it isn’t as flat as the Motorola Xoom. The Iconia Tab weighs 1.6 lbs (heavier than the Galaxy Tab 10.1) with dimensions of 10.24” x 6.97” and 0.52” in thickness.
When holding the Iconia Tab, you will have your Power button on the top left side of the tablet right above the 3.5mm audio jack and the micro-HDMI port. If you look at the bottom of it, the docking port can be found right in the middle which will probably work with a keyboard accessory just like Asus Transformer. Moving to the right side, you will come across the AC adapter port on the top, a micro-USB port, a full USB 2.0 port and the reset button. You will find your volume rocker, a rotation lock switch and a MicroSD card slot hidden under a retractable cap. The 5-megapixel camera is in the back of the tablet along with two speakers.
The Iconia A500 tablet comes with a 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (up to 32GB with microSD), 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11b/g/n wireless connection, dual-rear speakers and Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
Audio and Display
The Acer A500 has a 10.1-inch WXGA multi-touch display with a 1280 x 800 resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio. As far as screen viewing is concerned, we thought it looked a bit faded when viewing from certain angles. The display brightness is very impressive and we enjoyed it very much as it is comparable to the Xoom, but we do recommend lowering the intensity for power management purposes. We noticed that the A500 tab collects fingerprints like crazy; we think that putting a screen protector will be helpful.
The speakers can be found in the lower back of the Iconia A500 Tab, one in the right and the other on the left. They’re located right where you hold the tablet which could easily obscure the sound. Acer uses Dolby Audio software to manage the tablet’s sound system, and this software can be tweaked or turned off by going to the settings menu. You will also find the Treble, Natural Bass, Music EQ and Video EQ options under the Dolby Audio menu.
The Acer Iconia Tab A500 offers a pure Android 3.0 Honeycomb experience and we’ve been very pleased about how smooth navigating through the menu was. We also noted the addition of some of Acer’s own applications such as the Photo Browser 3D, Social Jogger, Memo player, LumiRead and Clear.fi.
Right on the main screen of the A500 tablet, Acer put four icons dedicated to organizing applications in four categories: Multimedia, Social, Games and eReading. Once you click on any of these, it will take you to a sub-screen where you will see a TV stand or a coffee table with either a book or a magazine, a video game controller or headphones on top of it.
The App drawer button can be found on the top right of the of the display and on the bottom you will see the status bar where you have your “Back”, “Home” and recently “used” apps buttons and then you have your clock, battery status and quick access to the tablet settings and notifications.
The Acer Iconia A500 comes with two cameras: a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
We have taken many shots with the rear camera and weren’t overly impressed with the quality of the pictures as compared to some other tablets such as the Xoom or the HTC Flyer. It definitely had a hard time using its autofocus feature and many pictures came out blurry. I also shot a couple of videos to see how good was the 720p recording on the A500 and as I suspected, the quality of the videos was just okay and the camera motion detector has trouble getting a hold of moving objects.
This 2-megapixel camera has been designed for video chatting and is located on the top left side of the display which means that you have to hold the Iconia A500 to the right of your head of you want your face to fully displayed when you are using Gtalk.
Performance and battery life
As you probably know, the Iconia Tab sports the Tegra 2 dual-core processor which is also carried by the Xoom and the Eee Pad Transformer. The Honeycomb experience with this tablet has been issue-free and we haven’t seen any lag or app fore closing on it so far. We also ran 720p and 1080p videos and they looked absolutely amazing. We would also like to remind you that if you want to connect your tablet to your HDTV, it can only output 720p video for now. Acer will later release an update to upgrade it to 1080p. Along with the Tegra 2 processor, the A500 has 1GB of RAM and 16GB on internal space.
The Iconia A500 tablet comes with 3260mAH battery which promises over 8 hours of HD playback and after two battery tests, we realized that it didn’t quite pass the 7 hours mark while we were streaming some YouTube and Ustream videos while on Wi-Fi.
Despite the fact that the Acer name generally conjures up images of cheaply-made products, we were impressed with the seeming durability and design of the Acer Iconia Tab A500. For the $449.99 price tag, you cannot go wrong with this Honeycomb tablet especially because of what it has under hood. On the other hand, we weren’t too pleased with the camera performance but let’s not forget that this is a tablet and not camera. If you are in the market for well-priced 10.1-inch Honeycomb-powered tablet, we definitely recommend the Iconia A500.