Acer Iconia Tab A700 review
We first saw the (then unnamed) Acer Iconia Tab A700 back at CES in January. Acer's announcement of a Full HD tablet was pretty impressive stuff at the time, and despite a fairly lengthy wait to get our hands on a review model, it's still a big selling point today. The new iPad may have shot past the HD mark with its 2,048×1,536 resolution, but the A700's 1,920x1,200 screen (slightly higher than Full HD) is still a big deal. Just as impressive, though, is that the tablet is no more expensive than many recent, lower-resolution, Android devices.
The screen is a 16:10 widescreen aspect ratio, making it better for watching movies than the iPad's squarer shaped display. No video scaling is required here, with a typical HD movie fitting the screen almost perfectly, leaving just 60 lines of pixels spare above and below the film - around a 1/4in on this display. With a pixel density of 224 pixels-per-inch (PPI), it's not far off the iPad's 264PPI, so in general use you never notice any pixellation. There is the problem of apps that can’t handle the high resolution, which we'll come to later.
Putting the resolution aside, and looking at image quality as a whole, we were pretty impressed. Acer described the screen to us as "IPS quality" back in January, and it certainly doesn't look far off. The viewing angles aren't quite there, and the contrast looks to be a touch off the best we've seen, but colours are punchy and it's plenty bright enough. We do despair a little at the incredibly glossy display - on a bright day in our office it was hard to make out the screen for the reflections, so this may not be the best tablet to use when you're out and about.
We did have a couple more screen-related niggles. Occasionally we found the screen dimming as we read content in portrait orientation. We eventually worked out that our hand was blocking one of the light sensors, which then thought we were sitting in the dark and so dropped the screen brightness. We're guessing that the display bases the brightness on an average of multiple sensors, and it would seem more logical that if the tablet senses one sensor is totally dark, it should presume it's covered and trust the reading from the other sensor. In addition, occasionally we found the screen failed to register an input. We've used a lot of Android devices and touchscreens don't always register poorly-placed jabs or those which barely contact the screen, but these were definite and on target, but then ignored. It's only maybe one press in twenty or fifty, but it did annoy us.
Physically speaking, the A700 is a fairly typical Android tablet. At 11mm thick it's not going to win any awards for slenderness, but then it's hardly chunky either. Most of the tablet is covered in a lightly-rubberised, textured finish - which makes it easy to keep hold of. The volume rocker looks better than most and the little dots on it help you tell up from down - once you get used to the fact that up/down are reversed in portrait mode. Next to this is a lock orientation button, handy for reading in bed - auto screen orientation sensors tend to get confused when a tablet is held horizontally. An HDMI output means you can watch videos, or play games, on a big screen.
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