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Acer wades into tablet war with Iconia Tab

16 Feb 2011
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Acer, one of our favourite laptop manufacturers, has launched two Android-based tablets.

We're not certain that tablets are going to take over from laptops, as we still remember the fuss about netbooks when they first launched. However, we're certainly pleased that one of our favourite laptop manufacturers, Acer, has entered the tablet market with two products - the Iconia Tab A100 and A500

We always liked Acer for its sensibly designed, decent-looking devices which often provided impressive performance and good value for money. If those principles can be transferred to tablets, then both Iconia Tab models should be a huge success.

Acer Iconia Tab A500

The range is broken up into the 7in A100 and the 10in A500. In fact, each has two variations, with the basic models being Wi-Fi only and the A101 and A501 variants adding 3G capability.

The design of both is unmistakably Acer, with a slightly sci-fi blend of dark plastics and shiny metals. It's certainly not the minimalist look that's so popular elsewhere, but it's also unlikely to upset anyone. It's appearance chimes with its design, with a practical element, notable by the number of ports, no surprise given the company's laptops were similarly well equipped.

Here's some shots of the A500, showing its HDMI connector, headphone port, plus two USB ports, including a full-size one for convenient use of flash drives and other USB devices. The A100 is similarly equipped, but lacks the second full-sized USB port.

Acer Iconia Tab ports 3
Acer Iconia Tab ports 2
Acer Iconia Tab ports 1

Inside both devices is a powerful nVidia Tegra 250 chipset, which incorporates dual ARM Cortex processing cores running at 1GHz, along with an Nvidia GPU, it's impossible to compare 3D chipsets over different devices from the show floor, but we were impressed with the graphics on offer here - see our video above.

The samples on display at MWC, like many at the show, were running a modified version of Android 2.2, rather than the tablet specific Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Because of this it's impossible to judge the tablets at present. For example, both Iconia Tabs have no physical buttons,as they've been replaced by the Action Bar in Honeycomb (an application specific toolbar that contains actions like Back), so Acer has had to bodge in a slide-out menu to provide these.

Despite not seeing the finsihed product with a proper tablet OS, we were impressed by the hardware on offer from Acer, and with typically aggressive pricing it should do very well.

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