The Iconia Tab A500/A501 is a 10 inch tablet running Android 3.0 Honeycomb. The display has a resolution of 1280 x 800, which is better even than the iPad 2’s screen and equivalent to the Motorola Xoom. This larger type of screen and higher resolution will benefit you in the long term; even if, let’s say, you’re more familiar with 7 inch tablets and the easier way of carrying it and holding it, the 10 inch form factor is beneficial for tablets running Android 3.0. The OS is designed for this type of screen and the applications run better if they have some more room to play. And a higher resolution means more items on the screen at once.
The CPU is a ARM Tegra 2 dual core chip, which offers very good video performance and the capacity of dealing with multitasking. This is the best processor for mobile devices we have right now, and until Nvidia will not bewilder us with their quad core chip (which is said to arrive sometime later this year), the Tegra 2 remains the top choice for any tablet trying to make it in the high end niche.
The screen supports multi touch, namely has 10 point multitouch gestures, which means you can place all your fingers on the screen in order to activate some features. This happens also on the Iconia laptop, which lets you activate the on screen keyboard by touching the screen with all ten fingers at the same time.
On this smaller screen, however, the feature is more useful in terms of gaming and maybe singing on a virtual piano. The tablet comes preloaded with some HD games and I guess the multi touch screen will come in handy for those, in conjunction with the six axis gyroscope.
Video playback is limited to 720p on the screen, but the HDMI port allows to output 1080p on a bigger display, such as a HD TV. The supported formats are MPEG 4 and Xvid, but other formats might work if you install third party software. In terms of storage, you’ll be able to choose between 16 and 32 GB, but expect the latter to cost a little more.
The A500/501 comes with two cameras. The 5 MP, LED Flash camera in the back is more suited for taking high resolution pictures, while the front 2 MP one goes hand in hand with video calling. In terms of connectivity, the A500/A501 has WiFi and blue tooth 2.1 + EDR, as well as a USB 2.0 port and card reader slot.
A 3G version, named the A502, will also be available, but a little later than the standard models. From what we’ve seen so far, the tablet is more suited for gaming and watching movies. The browser comes with Flash support, so you won’t have any problems when it comes to watching clips on line.
Also, the clear.fi platform allows you to share your content and stream media via an easy to use dedicated interface. The tablet has a metal casing, which will protect it from accidents (still, we recommend you to buy also a tablet case for better protection).
The tablet will be available in May, but there’s still no information about pricing. To wrap it up, if Acer can come up with a decent price for this tablet, they’re off to a very good start, as the stellar CPU and great screen make the A500/A501 a very good solution for those looking for an entertainment tablet.