At first glance the Acer Iconia Tab A110 looks almost the same as the popular Google/Asus Nexus 7. It's a similar size considering it is a 7in tablet, 127 x 193mm. However, closer inspection reveals the differences. Only not all good differences.
The main issue is that it's both thicker and heavier than the tablet with which it now has to compete. We measured the Acer Iconia Tab A110 at 11.7mm – so around 1mm thicker than the Nexus 7. See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?
However, its square sides – compared to the rounded edges of the Nexus 7 – make this seem a lot more. Weight-wise we measured the A110 at 385g, a noticeable 49g more than the Nexus 7.
Acer Iconia Tab A110: Build quality
Although build quality of the A110 is reasonable and the tablet feels robust, we're not fond of its dated slab-like design and plasticky feel. The entire body of the tablet is made of plastic making it feel very cheap – and that’s not great considering it costs more than the Nexus 7.
It's the little things that make it worse too, like the fact the microSD card slot resembles an unsightly gaping hole on the top of the tablet.
Acer tells us the screen is fronted by glass but it feels like it's made of plastic. We found it resisted scratches well; but the same can't be said for fingerprints which it attracted like iron fillings to a magnet.
Acer Iconia Tab A110: Hardware and performance
In hardware specifications, the Acer Iconia Tab A110 is close to identical to the Nexus 7. It too uses an nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. We had no issues with lab-test performance.
In the Geekbench 2 test the Acer scored a little lower than Google's tablet – 1389 against 1452 points – but this is a small and insignificant difference. We recorded an average of 1747ms in the SunSpider test, a tad slower than the Nexus 7.
And in terms of graphics, the Acer Iconia Tab A110 managed 16fps in the Egypt HD test from GLBenchmark 2.5. That's a little faster than the Google tablet, which played at 14fps.
Storage matches the original Nexus 7 which included 8GB. But now the Google mini tablet starts with 16GB for £159, or £199 for 16GB storage. So 8GB now seems even more paltry.
The Iconia Tab A110 does have a microSD card slot for additional memory – up to 32GB.
This gives it a small win over the slotless Nexus 7 but factoring in the price of a memory card takes the Acer even further above the Nexus’ price.
The screen is where the Acer Iconia Tab A110 falls massively short of the standard set by the Nexus 7. It’s a 7in display again, only with a disappointing resolution of 1024 x 600. This gives a pixel density of 170ppi, with the result that text and graphics can look rougher at any time.
Viewing angles aren't great either, especially when compared to the Nexus 7's IPS panel. The LCD on the Iconia Tab A110 is set quite deep into the tablet, so much so you don't really feel like you're touching it.
As well as an microSD card slot, the Acer Iconia Tab A110 has another feature absent from the Nexus 7 – a micro HDMI port. There's no cable in the box so you’ll need to find your own if you need to plug the Acer into a display or projector.
Wireless connectivity includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. There's no NFC chip.
There's also no rear-facing camera for snaps but, like Google's tablet, there is a front-facing camera for video calls and self-portraits. We found the 2Mp camera produced a good picture.
Acer Iconia Tab A110: Software
The Iconia Tab A110 is one of a few tablets to ship with Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). In this respect at least the A110 is up to date. Acer has even made sure the homescreen can be used in landscape mode, something which Google only recently made possible on the Nexus 7 via a separate update.
Google’s latest mobile OS ran smoothly on the Acer Iconia Tab A110. Acer has left the operating system almost entirely unmolested, aside from some very small tweaks.
Firstly the notification bar has an extra button which brings up three power plans to choose from: High performance, Balanced and Power saver.
Pre-installed apps include the usual set of Google services like YouTube, Gmail, and Chrome.
In addition there are two games, Ice Age Village and Real Football 2012. Both of these require content downloads before you can play them. More games can be downloaded from the nVidia TegraZone.
The standard Google camera app is also present so you can use the front-facing camera without having to hit the Google Play Store. There's also Google Now, the latest version of thye company’s search engine, which uses Google’s extensive dossier on you to predict what you want to know, before you search for it – a feature we liked on the Nexus 7.
The lack of Adobe Flash support is becoming less of a problem for Android 4.1 devices. For example, the BBC has updated its iPlayer app to make it compatible with Google’s now Flash-less OS.
Acer Iconia Tab A110: Battery life
A tablet's battery life will depend on how often you use it. Acer admits in its spec sheet that the Iconia Tab A110 won't last as long as the Nexus 7, quoting 7.5 hours of video playback, compared to over 9 hours.
We found battery life to be good, lasting us a couple of days' worth of use with occasional and varied use. While this is not bad, we found the Nexus 7 would typically last about half a day longer on average.