Acer Iconia One 8 review
Processor: Quad-core 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3735G, Screen size: 8in, Screen resolution: 1,280x800, Rear camera: 5 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10GB), Wireless data: None, Size: 214x128x9.5mm, Weight: 355g, Operating system: Android 5.0
Tablets that come equipped with a stylus for making notes or drawing quick sketches typically come at a price premium. There are a few exceptions, like Nvidia’s Shield tablet, but the category is dominated by Samsung’s top-end Galaxy Note Tab line of premium devices. Acer’s Iconia One 8 bucks that trend with an ingenious alternative that’s both kind to your wallet and just as accurate as a Samsung S Pen.
Acer’s proprietary Precision Plus technology is essentially a grid of touch sensors much smaller than the ones typically used for touchscreen displays. This grid is so sensitive you can draw directly on the tablet’s 8in screen with a regular pencil. Having tried our fair share of digital styli, using a regular pencil is a revelation. Drawing feels natural and accurate - more so than other styli we've used in the past. Admittedly, Acer's EZ Note sketching app doesn't have the best selection of brushes to choose from, but you can always use the excellent AutoDesk Sketchbook instead.
^ It's no work of art, but being able to use a pencil directly on the Iconia One 8's screen is far superior to wrestling with a digital stylus
The 1,280x800 resolution is a bit of a let-down if you want to work on slightly larger sketches, however, and the lack of palm rejection means it's not particularly suited for intricate, detailed drawings. Not being able to rest your hand on the screen without making accidental marks is a bit of a deal-breaker for serious work, but not a major problem for scribbling down the odd note.
Extra sensitivity aside, the Iconia One 8's screen is decidedly average. With an sRGB colour gamut coverage of just 75.1%, it falls behind the Tesco Hudl 2’s 79.4%. Reds, magentas, cyans and greens all fell short of the sRGB gamut boundary, which left images lacking depth and vibrancy. This has knock-on effects for your sketches, as colours on the tablet screen may not look the same when you transfer the image to your PC or look at it on another device.
Still, we were pleased with low 0.25cd/m2 black levels, and the screen's 1,308:1 contrast ratio ensured that plenty of detail was on show in all of our test images. However, with a peak brightness of 325.11cd/m2, you'll need to turn the brightness up to max if you want to use the tablet outside.
While not as quick as the Tesco Hudl 2, the quad-core, 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3735G processor and 1GB of RAM make the Iconia One 8 perfectly snappy for a sub-£150 tablet. Geekbench 3 scores of 643 and 1,860 in the single and multicore tests are just behind the Hudl 2, and Acer's largely stock version of Android felt very responsive during day-to-day testing.
In fact, the 993 score in Futuremark's Peacekeeper web browsing test is actually a few points in front of the Hudl 2, and it also beats the £400 Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as well. Images loaded in a flash on the Guardian’s homepage, and we could scroll through web pages smoothly even while they were still loading.
^ The Iconia One 8 is available in a wide variety of funky colours
A meagre 443 frames (roughly 7fps) in the offscreen GFX Bench GL Manhattan test is less encouraging, and we warned that the Iconia One 8 didn't meet the minimum specification for Blizzard's Hearthstone. We were able to play a couple of rounds hardly any frame rate drops though, and those we did see weren't enough to put us off playing. 2D games such as Alphabear and Threes also ran perfectly smoothly.
Battery life wasn’t that impressive either; we only managed eight hours 19 minutes from the 4,5550mAh battery with the screen brightness set to 170cd/m2 in our continuous video playback test. This beats the Hudl 2 by around an hour, but can’t match Acer's claimed figure of 10 hours. Games drain it even faster, too, so you'll probably need to charge it every night for anything other than web browsing.
With only 10GB of the 16GB integrated storage available to the user, the Iconia One 8 has enough room for a few films and games, but you can always expand this using the microSD card slot on the rear of the tablet.
The Iconia One 8 is the first Acer tablet we've seen running Android 5.0 Lollipop. While we could do without the copious app shortcuts and widgets littering the home screens, Acer's decision to stick with vanilla Android means you won't have to contend with any fussy menu layouts. We also like Acer's EZ Wake-up feature, which lets you wake the tablet from sleep mode by double-tapping the screen, or use five fingers to wake it and launch an app.
The only downside is that Acer has ditched its own camera app for the basic Google Camera app, so it doesn't have any of the fun customisation modes available on the smaller Iconia One 7. The One 8's 5-megapixel camera also wasn't as detailed or well-exposed as the Iconia One 7's snapper either, as colours were very pink and hazy in our outdoor shots, while indoor shots were riddled with noise.
^ Photos weren't very detailed, and clouds had a noticeable pink sheen to them
^ Indoors, colours were relatively accurate, but there was also a lot of noise in low lighting conditions
This isn't too much of a problem in our eyes, as you're much more likely to use your smartphone camera for important family occasions than your tablet. For us, build quality is much more important, and we're pleased to see that the Iconia One 8 is much better made than the creaking Iconia One 7. We didn't find any flex in the rear panel and the textured back, which is available in a wide range of different colours, doesn't feel too cheap and tacky.
The Iconia One 8 isn't as good value as the Tesco Hudl 2, but its Precision Plus touchscreen does give it a fun, extra feature to make it stand out. Its snappy internals are also great for its price, and its excellent build quality and wide range of colours give it more personality than other £150 tablets. If you're not fussed about its sketching capabilities and want a longer-lasting battery, though, the £150 Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is a much better buy.
|Processor||Quad-core 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3735G|
|Front camera||0.3 megapixels|
|Rear camera||5 megapixels|
|Storage (free)||16GB (10GB)|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Operating system||Android 5.0|