Acer Iconia Tab A100 – little bit of Honey

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It’s one of the smallest Android Honeycomb tablets around and comes loaded with storage options, an HDMI out and all the tech you need for your daily commute – but how does it measure up to the iPad?

Whatever business you’re in, everything is mobile now. That’s become especially true in recent years for the world’s leading PC and laptop manufacturers, who have slowly cottoned on to the fact that they can’t let the likes of Apple hoover up all of the tablet and phone market.

We’ve seen the likes of Asus and Dell launching mobile phones and tablets, and Acer as well. The Acer Iconia Tab A100 isn’t its first attempt at an Android-powered tablet, but it is the first to use a seven-inch screen rather than the more typical 10.1-inch one.

That size di erence may not sound like much, but it’s a deceptively different experience. A substantially smaller screen area attempts to strike a better balance between productivity and portability. Unfortunately, while the hardware is mostly there, Acer’s struggles with user interface design are visible from the start.

Size, not style

The Acer Iconia Tab A100 looks eerily like the second generation Motorola Xoom. The industrial design uses the same diagonal edges and black plastic cover. At 450g, it’s light and the 600×1,024 capacitive touchscreen is sharp and bright, with great colour reproduction that’s only slightly hampered by shallow vertical viewing angles.

The design is still very ‘Acer’ though, and its 12mm deep bulk is reminiscent of the company’s lower-end laptops – as is the swirling ribbon design and logo on the plastic back cover. There’s one other unusual design flourish too: there’s an extra home button below the screen which no other Android Honeycomb tablet has. It’s actually surprisingly useful.

Happily for a small tablet, the power button isn’t hidden but is on the side and within easy reach, while the volume keys on the top edge are accompanied by a screen orientation lock and a microSD card slot for boosting storage space.

On the right-hand side, an HDMI cable allows you to output video to an HDTV. Sadly, the one disappointing aspect of the build is the charging slot: it’s a proprietary socket and power brick, so you’ll need to carry this with you if you use the A100 on the go.

The tablet’s smartphone-style innards produce speedy results. The A100 is fast – it scored around 1,800 on the Quadrant Standard benchmark, and an impressive 89,000 in the Rightware Browsermark page-loading test – and that’s courtesy of an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz system-on-a-chip.

Some of the other smartphone specs are a disappointment, however. Though the A100’s fi ve-megapixel rear camera can shoot 720p HD video, stills are washy and take an age to focus. The battery holds a mere 1,530mAh charge, a smaller capacity than found on many new phones. As such, you’ll only get about five hours of use with brightness up and internet on.

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