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

 


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