Product review: Acer Iconia A1 Tablet

Acer Iconia A1 tablet reviewTime for a product test, and today I’ll be doing a review of the Acer Iconia A1 tablet. If you’re a gadget fan then you can’t fail to have noticed the amazing rise of the tablet in the technological marketplace over the past year or two. Apple’s iPad has consistently been at the crest of that particular wave but has consistently cost quite a bit more than its competitors. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on one of the latest crop of budget tablets that aim to prove you don’t need to spend a fortune to get great functionality.

The Acer Iconia A1 is a 7.9” tablet, running the Android Jelly Bean operating system. The particular model I’m reviewing is the 16Gb Wifi version with 1.2Ghz quad-core Mediatek processor and 1Gb of RAM which is currently retailing for about £180. Now I have to admit to not being very au fait with Android in any form, being more familiar with Apple iOS, but I found that on first powering up the Iconia, the introductory screens were very intuitive and setup was a breeze. The general layout of icons on the home screen was tidy and uncluttered and it didn’t take long to work out how to navigate.

Once I’d connected to my home Wifi network (the Iconia has ‘n’ wifi so it can accept fast connections) I logged on to the Google Play store and downloaded a few different apps to put it through its paces. BBC iPlayer worked perfectly, it was relatively fast and the streaming video quality was good.

The screen on the Iconia isn’t particularly high resolution – only 1024 x 768 pixels but colours are strong and contrast fairly good, along with the viewing angle so it’s perfectly adequate for watching in bed. YouTube was even better with 720P high definition video looking very sharp. Sound quality wasn’t great however, the one tiny speaker on the rear of the device is pretty weak, but plug in some headphones and all is forgiven so if you’re intending to watch a lot of video or listen to a lot of music then you’ll need to keep a set handy.

Reading ebooks is another very common usage for tablets so how was the experience on the Iconia? Not bad at all. The Kindle app synced easily with my Amazon account and I was able to download books straight away. The screen was actually very good for text with options to view black text on a white background, white text on a black background or black text on a sepia background – all very helpful depending on your preference. The brightness control also meant it was possible to read outdoors on a cloudy day, but I think it would struggle in bright sunlight.

The camera on the rear of the Iconia is 5 megapixel and produced pretty good stills though it struggled a bit in low light. There’s also a 0.3 megapixel camera on the front of the device so you can make video calls via Skype. Video calls actually worked very well, the inbuilt microphone picked up my voice without any problems and there was no nasty echo from the caller.

Email was easy to set up: my Google mail account synced first time and alerted me with a subtle beep when new mail arrived. Typing was quick and fluid with the onscreen QWERTY keyboard being very responsive. You can set it up to have a click sound effect or a subtle vibrate on every key press – a nice touch if you’ll pardon the pun.

Playing games fared well too. Angry Birds was flawless, no stuttering or crashes (apart from the birds crashing onto the pigs, of course). More graphics-intensive games like Fast & Furious 6 took longer to load and had occasional stutters but certainly nothing to disrupt gameplay to any great extent.

Overall, the Acer Iconia A1 is a great little tablet for the money, retailing for around £100 less than the iPad mini, which I reckon it matches in terms of speed and ease of use. Granted it’s not as aesthetically pleasing or robust as Apple’s effort, particularly as the Iconia is predominantly made of plastic, but stick it in a nice-looking protective case and that won’t matter a jot.

It also has a few extra features that the iPad lacks such as a microSD card slot so you can expand the storage capacity by up to 32Gb, and a mini HDMI output so you could hook it up to your TV for big screen gaming or movie watching if you wanted to. If you’re after a compact, fast little tablet then you could do a lot worse than this.

Full disclosure: Many thanks to Acer for providing me with an Acer Iconia A1 tablet for this product test. All thoughts and opinions my own.



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  1. Oooooh, watching TV on a tablet in bed sounds perfect!!!! I sooooo need to get one. I’m glad that they’re coming down in price – the iPad is too expensive for me.

  2. Hi Jackie! Know what you mean. Think this would be good for Sunday morning ‘hangover TV’ in bed, or for when the other half is watching something else on the main telly. Also, it would probably be a good all-rounder for student entertainment, if the earphones were used.

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