Acer Iconia A1, An attractive price

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.