We had a brief amount of time with the Iconia Tab A510 back in March, before Apple launched the 2012 iPad, reviewed, and it looked like a tempting proposition. Now, though, it's competing in a much tougher market with said new iPad and Androidtablets from Asus to contend with. Group test: What's the best tablet?

 Iconia Tab A510: Design

Style-wise, the A510 looks and feels much like the original iPad, although its 10.1in screen has a wider aspect ratio. The resolution is higher at 1280x800, but this is fairly standard for an 10-inch Ice Cream Sandwich tablet. See also: Android Advisor.

At 680g and 11mm thick, it's no featherweight and isn't all that comfortable to hold after a while. The plastic back panel looks like metal, but lacks the reassuring feel you get with real aluminium. Of course, the same panel proudly displays the Olympic rings but these aren't a reason to buy the A510. Indeed, they'll date the Iconia Tab as soon as the games have finished.

Iconia Tab A510

Iconia Tab A510: Performance

The important fact is that there's a 1.4GHz nVidia Tegra 3 T30 processor hiding inside the A510. This quad-core chip means Android runs smoothly, even when you have several apps open. It's also adept at playing games, even intensive titles such as Grand Theft Auto III.

It scored 1258 on average in three runs of GeekBench 2, making it a little faster than Asus' Transformer Pad 300.

Web pages load quickly and browsing the web, on the whole, is a decent experience.

The stereo speakers and Dolby Mobile processing lead to reasonably decent audio quality, but there's the usual 3.5mm minijack for a pair of headphones when you want some privacy.

Image quality is good, but the screen's brightness is somewhat average and colours slightly more muted than some Android tablets. Viewing angles aren't restrictive - several people can gather around to watch a video clip or photo slideshow. It's the glossy, reflective screen finish that's the main problem.

Iconia Tab A510: Hardware

There's 32GB of internal memory, which can be expanded via the microSD card slot which is hidden behind a flap on the right-hand side. Watch out for 16GB models, which cost around the same and are easy to confuse for this model.

A micro-HDMI output lets you hook up the A510 to a large-screen telly, and there's a volume rocker and stiff lock button on the top edge.

Iconia Tab A510

The rear 5Mp camera and front-facing 1Mp twin aren't great. Technically, the rear snapper can capture 1080p footage, but the resulting quality is good only for Facebook or YouTube. Similarly, photos lack detail, and the sweep panorama mode produced blurry images with conspicuous joins.

Both Wi-Fi (802.11n) and Bluetooth 2.1 are integrated, as is a GPS receiver. Battery life is respectable at 9.5 hours of video playback.

Iconia Tab A510: Software

Acer has made several changes to Android, including an HTC-style lock screen where you can drag the lock icon to one of four apps (you can customise these) to launch them directly. Another addition is the ring interface which is launched by a circular icon in the middle of the bottom status bar.

This also provides four shortcuts, which are also customisable, but default to screenshot, Gallery, Settings and Browser. In the centre is a magnifying glass which launches a Google search, and there's a volume slider on the left. To the right of the circle is a carousel of bookmarks, but these can't be synched with your Google account, sadly.

Iconia Tab A510: Overall

At this price, the A510 isn't bad value. It's around £50 cheaper than the base iPad 3, yet has double the storage and a GPS receiver (you need the 4G iPad to get one of those). Plus, you can expand the storage via cheap microSD cards.

However, there are plenty of rival Android tablets which are vying for attention, including the Asus Transformer Pad 300 which comes with a keyboard dock and second battery for only £50 more.

Next page: What our colleagues in Australia thought of the A510 at the end of June 2012

 

Here's a second opinion on the Iconia Tab A510 by our colleague Ross Catanzariti from PC World Australia:

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 is never going to win an award for looks. Its styling differs little from previous Acer tablets, particularly the Iconia Tab A200. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, the A200 retails for just £252, significantly less than the £349 A510. Weighing a hefty 680g and measuring 10.2mm thick, the A510 does little to grab your attention. In fact, it initially seems very easy to overlook for thinner, lighter and more attractive alternatives.

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 at least has reasonably impressive ergonomics. It feels lighter than it really is and the smooth, rounded corners make the tablet comfortable to hold in both portrait or landscape orientations. We appreciated a few of Acer's less advertised design touches, particularly the smooth back made grippy thanks to etched dots all over the surface. However, the Olympic ring logo next to the Acer logo is both unnecessary and will quickly date the tablet once the 2012 London games are over.

A couple of small but nifty touches, such as the tiny LED indicator on the power button and the raised indents on the volume buttons, add to the Acer Iconia Tab A510's overall user experience. Two well placed speakers, neatly positioned power and volume buttons and a mini-HDMI port are also appreciated, although the orientation lock slider on the top of the tablet requires way too much force to activate. The microSD card slot and a reset button on the left are hidden by an annoying plastic flap that is difficult to remove.

Arguably the least impressive aspect of the Acer Iconia Tab A510 is its display. It's not a bad screen by any means, but it lacks the brightness and vivid colour of many other Android tablets on the market, such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The glossy panel is tough to see in direct sunlight and text clarity isn't the best, though vertical viewing angles are reasonably impressive.

Acer Iconia Tab A510: software and performance

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 runs a largely vanilla version of the Ice Cream Sandwich Android OS. The user experience is almost entirely void of any software customisation by Acer, aside from a shortcut suite the company calls the 'ring interface'. Tapping the ring button in the middle of the status bar brings up a quick menu with three customisable shortcuts, a volume control bar and a rotating, 3D carousel of your browser bookmarks. The ring interface is handy, but it can be a little slow to open at times. Annoyingly, the browser shortcut can only display bookmarks saved on the tablet itself, not those synched through your Google account. We also love the shortcuts on the lock screen - you can drag the lock icon to the left into four customisable shortcuts to directly unlock into that particular app.

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 comes with some extra apps over what Google provides by default. These include the Acer Print app, Astro File Manager, Aupeo personal radio, Acer's clear.Fi media suite, which streams music and videos to a DLNA-enabled TV, the LumiRead eBook store, a Media Server sharing app and McAfee's VirusScan Mobile software. None of them add much to the overall package, although the print app is a nice inclusion and was easy to set up with our Wi-Fi enabled printer.

Performance on the whole is excellent, with only occasional hiccups when using the default browser apparent. Applications open and closed swiftly with little delay, home screens scroll smoothly even when multiple widgets are in use and the Acer Iconia Tab A510 handles gaming, particularly graphic intensive titles like FLCommando and GTA III, with relative ease. All in all, the Acer Iconia Tab A510 tablet performs just as you would expect, given that it has a powerful 1.3GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, although the slow startup time is a slight annoyance and the tablet does tend to heat up while playing games. This is particularly evident on the back, towards the right corner of the device.

The Iconia Tab A510 itself may perform well, but the Android platform that powers it still has some issues. We've mentioned the browser, which automatically switches to mobile versions of many websites and can often be slow to zoom into pages, but third-party apps remain a big problem. There are minimal apps that have been designed with a tablet in mind, so most of them simply expand to fit the larger display of the Iconia Tab A510. There is also no easy way to quickly determine if an app in Google Play is designed to work on a tablet. A good example is the Spotify app, which ridiculously only works in portrait mode because it was designed to be used on a smartphone and not a tablet.

Acer Iconia Tab A510: battery life, camera

Acer claims the Iconia Tab A510's huge 9800mAh battery provides up to 15 hours of standby time. We experienced less than that in real-world use, but the 9.5 hours of battery life we managed means the Iconia Tab A510 is on par with the iPad when it comes to power efficiency.

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 has 32GB of internal memory, but the microSD card slot means you can expand that significantly. Acer uses a regular micro-USB port for charging and synchronising, but the AC adaptor included only fits the Iconia Tab A510 tablet due to its slightly larger than normal size.

The Iconia Tab A510's two built-in speakers may be well positioned, but they produce poor-quality sound. The speakers sit on the angled, bottom edge of the tablet so sound isn't muffled when the device is sitting on a desk or table. However, the volume is low even at its highest setting, sound distorts at high levels and bass is almost non-existent.

The Iconia Tab A510's dual-camera's are also barely worth mentioning. The rear-facing 5-megapixel camera produces shots lacking in detail, while the front-facing camera works well enough to provide passable video for third-party apps such as Skype and Tango, but little more.

Acer Iconia Tab A510: Specs

  • Camera resolution (megapixels): 5
  • Geotagging: Yes
  • Video mode: Yes
  • RAM:1GB
  • Battery type: Rechargeable
  • Power supply: Battery
  • Battery life (as tested): 15hours
  • Battery size (milliamp hours - mAh)9800
  • Processor speed: 1.3GHz
  • Processor type: Quad core
  • Internal storage: 32GB
  • Supported memory media: microSD
  • 10.1in screen
  • Android 4 ICS
  • 259.1 x 175.3 x 10.2mm, 680g
  • Camera resolution (megapixels): 5
  • Geotagging: Yes
  • Video mode: Yes
  • RAM:1GB
  • Battery type: Rechargeable
  • Power supply: Battery
  • Battery life (as tested): 15hours
  • Battery size (milliamp hours - mAh)9800
  • Processor speed: 1.3GHz
  • Processor type: Quad core
  • Internal storage: 32GB
  • Supported memory media: microSD
  • 10.1in screen
  • Android 4 ICS
  • 259.1 x 175.3 x 10.2mm, 680g

OUR VERDICT

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 Olympic Edition won't be winning any Gold medals in our tablets chart. Its battery life is strong, and up there with the iPad, but once the games have finished there's little else here for us to recommend it over other high-end slates.

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