Just a year or two agowe’d never have imaginedwe’d now have 8in tablets costing just £170. Ye t that’s exactly the price of the Acer Iconia A1 – a full £100 cheaper than an iPad mini.
The big question is how many
compromises Acer has had to make. The
Iconia A1 starts off well, with a screen
resolution of 768 x 1,024 – the same as
the iPad mini – and the screen feels
spacious next to widescreen 7in tablets.
The quality isn’t so impressive. The
touchscreen layer adds grain, and the
screen brightness is limited, so don’t
expect to see much outdoors. Colours
aren’t very vibrant, either.
With a quad-core 1.2GHz MediaTek
processor and 1GB of RAM, it outpaced
other cheap tablets in our benchmarks,
and in real-world tests we found menus
and web pages scrolled smoothly, but
the general feel was less positive:
navigating the OS felt sluggish, and
apps loaded slowly. Graphics are also a
weak point: the demanding Real Racing
3 dropped frames noticeably at times.
Battery life of 8hrs 3mins isn’t
amazing, and although the A1 does
have a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera,
it’s fixed-focus, and our photos showed
poor image quality and a lack of detail.
As for the hardware, the plastic chassis
flexes when you squeeze the rear panel.
A micro-HDMI socket and microSD slot
do add some versatility, so you could
add to the included 16GB of storage.
The one big plus point is Android 4.2.2,
which brings several useful features,
including multiple user profiles and
lockscreen widgets. There’s also a
selection of Acer software preinstalled,
although these apps are of less interest.
So, all in all, the Iconia A1 is
something of a damp squib. While an
8in tablet for £170 might look like a
steal, you’re ultimately better off
either paying more or sticking with a
smaller-screened device in daily use.