Acer Iconia A1 review

Acer Iconia A1 review

The budget Android tablet market is booming right now, and Acer's entry into the race is this £149.99 tablet. Read our Acer Iconia A1 review to find out more. See: The 6 best tablets with expandable memory.

The Nexus 7 has been a huge success, so it's hardly a surprise that Acer has decided to release a budget model of its own. Here's our Acer Iconia A1 review. Take a look at Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC? too.

PC Advisor recently held a poll to find out for what people used their tablets for most. The result was a whopping 52 percent of people revealing that they used their tablets for web browsing the most (based on 7,527 votes). With that result alone it's not hard to understand what Acer is trying to achieve with the Iconia A1. It's an affordable way for people to get their hands on a tablet and use it to browse the web – the 3G version for £209 will be pretty tempting for those who want to surf the web on the go too. See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC? and Group test: what's the best Android tablet?

Acer Iconia A1: Build

The A1 isn't what you would describe as a good-looking tablet, but it's passable. It measures in with dimensions of 208.7x145.7x11.1mm and weighs 410g, what that means in real-world terms is that it isn't the lightest or thinnest, but it's still reasonably easy/comfortable to use with one hand.

There is a bit of an issue with the A1's plasic and bendy screen, but other than that it feels pretty well built. We're optimistic that it won't break should you accidentally drop it (note: we haven't done this, and nor should you).

Acer Iconia A1

Acer Iconia A1: specs at a glance

What's on offer? For £149 you get all you need in a tablet. There's a decent 7.9-inch screen, with a reasonable resolution of 768x1024 pixels (162ppi); 5MP camera and a VGA front-facing camera; 1GB RAM; 1.2GHz processor; Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean; 16GB of internal storage and the sizable kicker of a microSD card slot.

Acer Iconia A1: Screen

With a price tag of £149 you're not going to get a great displat. What you expect is something that looks reasonably sharp and is responsive to the touch – that's exactly what the Acer Iconia A1 offers.

The A1's screen is a dead-heat specs-wise with Apple's iPad mini, both offering a 7.9-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitative touchscreen, and 16M colours at a resolution of 768x1024 pixels (162ppi).

In terms of real-usage, it's fair to say that there is no wow-factor here with this screen, and some of the smaller symbols/app icons look a little fuzzy. But you wouldn't take a look at the screen and think it's low-resolution.

The only slight grumble we have with it, is that the screen itself feels flimsy/bendy to the touch and doesn't fill you with confidence. It's clearly not the Gorilla Glass we've come to expect in more expensive mobile devies, but rather a bit more plasticky.

Acer A1 review

Acer Iconia A1: Hardware

One of the most impressive hardware attributes that the Acer Iconia A1 has is its microSD card slot. It's something that's so small, but so valuable. The reason for this is that some companies charge you around £80 to double a device's storage. With this SD card slot, you can add 32GBs to this device's memory for less than £20.

Another thoughtful and decent feature is the HDMI port that the A1 sports. This allows you to easily display content stored on your Acer tablet to a big screen.

The quad-core 1.2GHz processor has enough oomph to get most jobs done with little to no flair. The benchmark results of the Acer Iconia A1 were okay, but no better than that.

The Iconia A1 posted a middle of the road 1328 in the GeekBench 2 tests, this is slightly worse than it's biggest rival the Nexus 7, which scored 1452. It did outperform the Nexus 7 in the GLBenchmark Egypt onscreen test, scoring 1755 at 16fps, compared to the Nexus' 14fps. The A1 had a SunSpider score of 984.2ms, which to give the Acer credit isn't a million miles away from the iPad 4's score of 854ms (lower is better at this test).

Acer Iconia A1: Camera

There are two cameras on offer here. The main camera is the rear-facing 5Mp (2592x1944 pixels) camera, complete with autofocus and Geo-tagging.

This really isn't something you should be getting excited about. It will take reasonable pictures of people/things that are not too far away and are well lit. Anything more than this you will find a struggle.

The second is a front-facing VGA camera, and as you can imagine it's not all that brilliant. But then no front-facing camera ever is. What is does offer is acceptable performance that is good enough to Skype your friends with… it's 100 percent better than having no front camera at all!

Iconia review

Acer Iconia A1: Software

Acer has done a pretty good job in terms of what software it has equipped the Iconia A1 with. And that's mainly because Acer hasn't really done much to it. There is minimal bloatware on this device which if you ask us is a good thing. The apps that do come preinstalled are basic - Acer Cloud, an Image Editor, and a few games.

The important thing is that the preinstalled apps on the A1 are unobtrusive and don't take up a lot of space, relative to some other devices. Our 16GB Acer Iconia A1 had nearly 12GB of useable space.

The good news is that the Iconia A1 comes with the latest version of Android installed (4.2.2 Jelly Bean), and manages to handle it pretty well. Flicking your way around the home and app screens is a responsive experience, and bigger apps such as Football Manager 2013 manage to load in an acceptable amount of time. Which is all you can ask for from a tablet that costs £149.

Acer Iconia A1: Battery life

There's nothing to worry about here either. The battery life of the Acer Iconia A1 is average. It easily lasts a weekend of occasional web browsing and has more than enough in the tank to knock out a couple of movies from a full charge.

Acer Iconia A1 price

A1-810 (8GB/Wifi) - End May - £149.99

A1-811 (3G) - End of July - £209.99

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Go to the next page to see our original hands on review of the Acer Iconia A1

Acer Iconia A1 hands on review

Acer has finally 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. See Apple iPad Mini vs Google Nexus 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 comparison 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 (think Kindle Fire and Nexus 7). 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. 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-esque 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. Pretty good for a budget tablet.

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.

Verdict:

This is Acer's first significant step into the budget Android tablet market and to be honest it's a pretty impressive one. The low price and expandable storage option will attract a lot of attention.

Acer Iconia A1: Specs

  • Display: 7.9-inch, 768 x 1024 pixels (162ppi) Ram: 1GB Storage: 8GB or 16GB, expandable by unto 32GB with microSD Processor: 1.2 GHz processor Rear camera: 5MP, autofocus, Geo-taggin Front camera: VGA OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB, HDMI Size: 208.7 x 145.7 x 11.1 mm Weight: 410g
  • Display: 7.9-inch, 768 x 1024 pixels (162ppi) Ram: 1GB Storage: 8GB or 16GB, expandable by unto 32GB with microSD Processor: 1.2 GHz processor Rear camera: 5MP, autofocus, Geo-taggin Front camera: VGA OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB, HDMI Size: 208.7 x 145.7 x 11.1 mm Weight: 410g

OUR VERDICT

The budget Android tablet market is a brilliant arms race. The Acer Iconia A1 is right in the mix as one of the best tablets in terms of value for money. If you're looking for something to surf the web, use social networks and watch videos on the A1 merits consideration. The fact that it has a microSD card slot makes it a really attractive tablet for £149.

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