We are going to take a look in the following post at all the strengths and weaknesses of the Iconia Tab A500, trying to determine if this is truly a tablet worth our money or if it’s just another 10-inch Android-based slate.
We will try to analyze the tablet in terms of design, display, performance, software and every other aspect that might be of interest for a potential buyer and we will also shortly compare it with its strongest opponents in the 10-inch tablet market.
Criticized for its lack of originality, for its far from perfect dimensions, but also for some hardware and software glitches( we will get back to that), the Iconia Tab A500 is not a bad piece of equipment, which can easily be observed after reviewing its strong points.
- The number of ports and connectivity options. While Acer’s 10-inch tablet is not yet available with 3G compatibility, it offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatibility, standard features for a device of its kind. However, what is not standard is the number of ports featured by the Iconia Tab A500. It has HDMI, a micro USB 2.0 port, as well as a normal sized USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot. Not too shabby for a 10-inch tablet, eh?
- The performance level offered. Even though pretty much all 10-inch Android-based tablets feature nowadays the same technical configuration, we can’t object very much to the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core mobile processor with 1 GB of DDR2 memory. It is fast, it is snappy, even though it’s far from being original.
- The sound and the speakers. While most tablets available today on the market feature rather poor sound and faulty speakers, the Acer engineers have done a pretty good job of offering a lovely Dolby speaker system that doesn’t embarrasses you when you share your movies or your music with somebody else. The bass is pretty rough, but the overall sound quality is probably better than you can find on any other 10-inch slate out there.
- The screen is extremely responsive and offers good viewing angles, as well as very high brightness. The 10.1 HD Multi-Touch Display with 1280×800 pixels resolution is far from being the best on the tablet market today, but is quite decent for a non-IPS screen.
- The solid, strong and sturdy design. The Iconia Tab A500 is wrapped in an Alpine Silver brushed-aluminum casing, which makes the device bulky, but strong. I myself love the nicely rounded edges on the top and bottom, as well as the cool, metallic tactile sensation you get when you hold this tablet. Of course, a tablet’s design is a matter of taste and there are probably some who might characterize the Iconia Tab A500 as an ugly or tacky-looking gadget. For me, it is cool, sophisticated and strong and overall it is a tablet that will probably attract more the male audience rather than the girls who are always looking for the lightest, the brightest and the cutest gadgets.
Unfortunately for the Iconia Tab A500, most of the strengths discovered so far are either not very original, as it is the case of the performance level offered, or are not strong points all the way, as we will see to be the case of the design and the display.
While the weak points of the 10-inch tablet don’t overwhelm the strong points, these are things that should make you think twice before buying Acer’s slate.
- Product dimensions and weight. While it is a solid and nicely built piece of equipment, the Iconia Tab A500 is nevertheless bulky and very heavy. It measures 10.2 x 7.0 x 0.5 inches, which makes it noticeably larger than the iPad 2 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, for instance. Regarding weight, thing are even worse for Acer’s tablet, which weighs 1.7 pounds. The iPad 2 weighs in contrast 1.3 pounds, the Asus Transformer 1.4 pounds and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 only 1.2 pounds.
- Software and apps. While the Tab A500 was one of the devices that implemented best the Android 3.0 operating system, the tablet has failed to update its OS to either the 3.1 or the 3.2 version. There have been promises, rumors and even news stating that the tablet running 3.1 was available in Germany and India, but most Iconia users are currently stuck with Android 3.0. The apps are still numerous and work well, but they can’t hold the comparison with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, which runs on Android 3.2 or the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which runs on Android 3.1.
- The display is glary and can very easily be smudged with fingerprints. While, as we mentioned before, the 10.1 touchscreen is decent for an LCD panel, it is very easy to notice that this is inferior to the IPS display featured by the iPad 2 or the Asus Transformer.
- The battery life. According to Engadget’s tests, the Iconia Tab A500’s battery lasts under seven hours when playing standard-definition video with the WiFi on. This is not disappointing per se, but compared to other tablets of its category, it is pretty poor.
- The cameras. Despite the fact that we are used to poor cameras featured by tablets, our level of expectation for the Iconia Tab A500 was pretty high, considering that it features a 5 MP rear-facing camera with Auto Focus and LED Flash and a 2 MP front-facing camera. Unfortunately, these prove to be pretty worthless, considering the blurriness of the photos and the very low quality of the recorded videos.
The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is currently available at Amazon with only 16 GB of internal storage space, even though other stores offer also a version with 32 GB. The 16 GB model goes for about 389 dollars at this time, after some special discounts, a pretty competitive price tag if you take a look around the 10-inch tablet market.
The 16 GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 goes for 483.99 dollars on Amazon nowadays, while the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is available for a pretty good price itself ($394.99 for the 16 GB version).
How does the Iconia Tab A500 live up to the very high standards of the 10-inch tablet market? Well, it lives up pretty decently, but unfortunately it doesn’t manage to raise the bar in any aspect.
Its performance level is pretty much on-par with everyone else’s, the display is not bad, but is however less impressive than the ones featured by the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the iPad 2, the design is decent for some, but uninspired for most. It’s true that it comes with a number of ports and connectivity options, but it’s also true that it could use a software update, as well as a better battery in order to be able to compete with the big boys.
The price is probably the only ace up the Iconia Tab’s sleeve, but even this is too little, especially considering that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, a much more impressive tablet, is available for about as much as Acer’s 10-inch slate.
Overall, while you can’t describe the Iconia Tab A500 as a poor or worthless gadget, you can’t describe it as an impressive one either. As it is the case of the Toshiba Thrive, Acer’s tablet is very well-balanced, but doesn’t come up with anything new, anything extraordinary, anything outside of the box.
And there is something else too… While I can think of more than one reason for which you shouldn’t buy this tablet, I can’t think of one solid argument that can sustain the Tab A500 in front of the iPad 2, the Asus Transformer or the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Can you?
Help us out and share this post