Acer's Iconia tablet is looking to take on Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad Mini for its stake of the low-end tablet market. The 7.9in tablet packs an Intel CPU, a 5MP camera and a sub-$250 price that should pique people's interest.
The Iconia A1-830 eerily resembles Apple's iPad Mini to the extent it would be easier to describe what makes the two tablets look different.
Acer's tablet sources inspiration from Apple's iPad
In fact, that’s what we will do: instead of a home button, the A1-830 has an Acer badge. There are stereo grilles on the back — and not the base — of the tablet too.
Everything else — the white face, the fine side bezels, the centre-placement of the front camera, the placement of the rear camera, the aluminum back of the tablet, the plastic strip running across it — all bring to mind the unmistakable design of Apple’s iPad.
Knowing the Acer tablet sources its inspiration from Apple makes us forget that it is well built. The aluminum body is kind to the skin and its 372 gram form can be comfortably held with one or both hands.
The Acer A1-830 might look like Apple’s iPad, but that's where the similarities stop. The tablet’s 7.9in screen (which, incidentally, is the same sized screen as the iPad Mini) is crippled by poor backlighting and a low 1024x768 resolution. Even at full brightness, the display leaves you wanting more.
The A1-830 is unique for being an Android tablet that uses a Intel CPU. The dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 CPU uses Hyper-Threading technology to virtually map out four cores and improve the A1-830’s multitasking abilities. Working alongside the CPU is 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Storage can be further expanded by up to 32GB with a microSD card.
The screen leaves a lot to be desired
Performance is best described as capable. Most tasks are completed with little fuss and there are little signs of lag when you’re using the tablet for the basics, such as music playback and internet browsing. Even more intensive tasks — such as gaming — are handled smoothly, but the poor screen does leave a lot to be desired.
Acer has barely made any modifications to the near-naked Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software. The only real tweaks include the addition of several Acer cloud-based applications, and trivial third party applications that include 7Digital, McAfee Security and Zinio. Acer has kept the software spiffy by keeping Android stock and by not adding a heavy custom overlay.
5MP camera, Stereo speakers
Little improvements have been made to the 5MP camera found on the rear of the A1-830. Compared to a digital or smartphone camera, the A1-830 can’t compete. Full-sized photos are characterised by plenty of image noise and the colouring is flat, but it will do when it comes to snapping random moments.
The Full HD (1920x1080) videos are just as mediocre. There’s some discolouration and, although it is responsive to rapid motion, it does sacrifice some of the quality.
The front camera is a significant improvement over the older A1-810’s VGA camera. It features face-detection and captures photos at 2 megapixels. The 1280x720 resolution front camera is easily handle video calls over Skype.
Two speaker grilles give the impression the A1-830 can produce decent sound. Unfortunately the resulting audio falls short of what you’d expect from two speakers. Volume is lacking and there’s limited dimension.
Acer claims the A1-830 can be used for 7.5 hours before needing a charge. We tested the tablet by looping a Full HD video with the brightness set to max and the GPS enabled. The tablet lasted five hours before it shut down. This is half of what Apple’s iPad Mini scored; however, the Acer A1-830 is a fair bit cheaper.
Acer has made a decent tablet with the A1-830. It looks like an Apple iPad Mini — which is a good looking tablet — and it will easily perform most tasks without any trouble. Furthermore, the $249 price is attractive.
It’s just not attractive enough. Google’s Nexus 7 is cheaper at $229, and it is better built, better equipped and better looking. We hate to say it, but buying the Acer A1-830 would be a case of spending more on an inferior product.
The Acer Iconia A1-830 is priced at $299 in New Zealand.