REVIEW: Acer Iconia

Technology editor Lia Timson takes Acer's new tablet computer, the Iconia A500, for a spin and finds a responsive machine with a few rough edges.

I’m curious as to why so many people are enamoured with tablets. So it was an open mind that I took the new Acer Iconia A500 for a test drive.

The 10.1 inch tablet has a nice form factor, with rounded edges and brushed aluminium casing that is pleasant to touch. It comes with 16GB ($579) or 32GB memory ($678), both Wi-fi only, although 3G is coming.

Powered by NVIDIA Tegra dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and Android Honeycomb (3.0) it boots up in a few seconds and is responsive to multi-touch commands and to re-orientating from landscape to portrait and vice-versa.

But that’s all I liked.

I found it lacking in some aspects and irritating in others to the point of a headache. Although, I suspect, too much browsing on any tablet would lead me to similar conclusions.

It is too heavy to hold (765g v 680g for the iPad) to watch even a short video. It needs a bicycle-like stand as placing it on a flat surface makes watching and typing uncomfortable (although you can buy an iPad-like cover/stand), and muffles the sound from the speakers somewhat.

Out of the box, the Iconia A500 comes with a number of apps, but sadly no note taking or document app – an irritating obstacle for those who want to take notes immediately without going to the Android Marketplace first. The built-in browser is Chrome, which I dislike on the PC as well.

The Iconia’s navigation is not as intuitive as it could be and the need to hard press the on/off button on the side to wake the device up all the time is irritating. It should be able to wake up to a touch of the screen or a button on the front. I also found the SD card slot fiddly and seemingly fragile.

If I was after a tablet, I’d probably wait to see a Windows 8-powered device before making a decision or going for the obvious choice, the iPad.

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