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Acer Iconia B1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £150
inc VAT

This budget tablet was always part of Acer's B-team, and it's now outgunned by far superior rivals

Any budget 7in tablet is still invariably going to be compared to the outgoing Google Nexus 7 (2012 edition). Google’s tablet may well be over a year old now, but it still remains one of the undisputed kings of the 7in arena – and at £159 its a chunk cheaper than its £199 replacement, the new Nexus 7.

Rivals need to do something special to make them stand out therefore, but whereas the Acer Iconia A1 with its 4:3 screen had a niche to fill as a kind of Android-powered alternative to the iPad Mini, the Iconia B1 is very much second-string on all fronts.

Acer Iconia B1

The B1’s bulky plastic chassis won’t be to everyone’s taste, but its rounded edges and slimline 340g weight make it very comfortable to hold. It never feels like a dead weight in your hands, but we had some concerns over its build quality. Its silver edges were very firm, but there was a considerable amount of flex on both the rear and front panels that made it feel a little cheap and tacky.

The B1 has a good set of ports for a budget tablet, though, even if it’s not quite as well-equipped as the Iconia A1. A 3.5mm headphone jack sits on top of the tablet and underneath you’ll find a MicroUSB port for charging the device. There’s also a small plastic flap concealing a microSD card slot for adding another 32GB of storage to its 16GB of internal memory. The flap itself is quite flimsy, but we were pleased to have the option of expanding the B1’s storage, as this is quite unusual on a budget tablet. There’s no main camera, sadly, but a tiny camera sits in the top-right corner for video chat or blurry self-portraits.

Acer Iconia B1

The tablet’s 7in screen was less impressive. It uses a standard LCD panel and has a 1,024×600 resolution, giving it a lower pixels-per-inch rating than both the Nexus 7 and the Iconia A1. The screen looked reasonably sharp, but its narrow viewing angles affect image quality unless you look at the tablet straight on. Its grainy coating doesn’t help either, as this had a tendency to distort colours slightly, particularly when the screen had picked up a few fingerprints.

Acer Iconia B1

The screen could be better, but the Iconia B1 is no slouch when it comes to processing power. It has a dual-core processor running at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM, which proves enough to run Android smoothly, and it completed our SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in a surprisingly quick 1,605ms when we used the Chrome browser. This puts it on par with the Nexus 7 and is only 100ms slower than the quad-core-based Iconia A1. The tablet is unlikely to be able to run any demanding 3D games, though, as it wasn’t able to run our 3DMark Ice Storm graphics test.

The Nexus 7 pulls ahead again when it comes to battery life, though, as the B1’s 2,640mAh battery only lasted six hours in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness. This isn’t bad for a budget tablet, but it pales in comparison to the ten hours we saw from the Nexus 7.

Acer Iconia B1

The rest of the Iconia B1 is fairly unremarkable. Unlike its big brother, the B1 uses a standard version of Android’s Jelly Bean 4.1.2, not the latest 4.2.2. This leaves the B1 feeling a little dated by comparison, and we missed features such as multiple user accounts, but it’s still fine for single users. We were able to jump straight into Google Search or use the webcam from the standby screen and sync various email accounts to the device. There’s also a customisable app bar above the onscreen menu buttons that lets you access your favourite apps from any of the five home screens.

One trait that has been carried from the A1 is the lack of pre-loaded apps. All you get are AccuWeather, Zinio, 7digital and AcerCloud, which is Acer’s own cloud storage service that lets you share documents and media files between different devices. You’ll need to install the AcerCloud portal app on your PC or phone to complete the process, but we found it was very easy to use and set up despite frequent messages telling us that it wasn’t able to connect to our PC. We had no problem transferring photos and videos from the B1 to our PC and vice-versa, but you’ll need to download a separate office suite app to view or edit your PC’s documents on the B1.


We originally reviewed the Acer Iconia B1 just over seven months ago, but things are moving very quickly at present for mobile devices, including budget tablets. The B1 can now be bought for as little as £90 online (from Argos) and that price drop has reignited interest in the device, so is it now good value for money, or has it simply been left behind by the competition.

Now £90 is a good price for even a basic Android tablet, but even the last seven months haven’t been kind to the B1’s already limited specification. Its screen only has a 1,024×600 resolution, something you don’t see on modern devices. The chipset inside copes OK with day-to-day tasks, but is incapable of completing our 3D Mark benchmark, so gaming is pretty much out. It also comes with all the ports and slots you’ll need including a micro SD slot to expand the memory if required.

However, you can now get so much more from a budget tablet. The Advent Vega Tegra Note costs £40 more, which is a chunk more cash admittedly but it’s money very well spent, especially on a device you’re likely to use everyday for the next couple of years at least.

The Tegra Note has the latest Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset, it’s not just quick, it’s quicker than practically any device we’ve seen, even at many times its price. It also blasts through 3D games, with smooth frame rates on anything the Play Store can currently throw at it. There’s a stylus built-in for more precise inputs, say if you want to do a bit of sketching or quickly draw a diagram or map. The 11 and-a-half hour battery life is almost double that of the Iconia B1 too.

It’s a great device then, and one that makes even the seven-month-old B1 look like a bit of a relic

Basic Specifications

ProcessorARM MT6517
Processor clock speed1.2GHz
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory1GB
Pointing devicetouchscreen


Viewable size7 in
Native resolution1,024×600
Graphics ProcessorN/A
Graphics/video portsnone
Graphics Memory0MB


Total storage capacity16GB
Optical drive typenone

Ports and Expansion

Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking support802.11b/g/n
PC Card slotsN/A
Supported memory cardsmicro SD
Other portsnone


Carrying caseNo
Operating systemAndroid 4.1.2
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedN/A
Optional extrasN/A

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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