Acer Iconia Tab A100 Review

By on February 28, 2012
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For those who like small things.

Good: Comfortable to hold, very portable, ICS 4.0 update coming soon
Bad: Low battery life, small viewing angles
Price: AED 1,199
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 was one of the first tablets we tested early last year, which came with the then brand new Honeycomb OS. And while the Tab’s 10.1-inch size was considerable, and the innards equally decent, its overall performance left much to be desired. Today I’ll be looking at the Iconia Tab A100 to see how well the little brother performs in the popular 7-inch tablets market.

Build quality & Design

For all intents and purposes, the Iconia Tab A100 is just a miniaturized version of the Iconia Tab A500. It has the same Tegra 2 powered dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU and 1GB DDR2 RAM as the A500. So Android Honeycomb runs just fine on it, but it’s still not quite as smooth as I would’ve liked it to be.

It also has a micro-USB 2.0 slot and a mini-HDMI port as well. Where things start to differ is the size. Firstly we have a smaller 7-inch screen and then there’s the lower internal storage. The Iconia Tab A100 comes with either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, compared to 16GB or 32GB on the A500.

Given its small size, the Iconia Tab A100 also benefits from lower weight, 450 grams to be exact, compared to 730 grams on the A500. I must admit, though, the A100 wasn’t as light as I was expecting it to be, but considering the tech packed inside such a small body, the tablet feels nice and sturdy in hands.

The entire body is glossy dark blue plastic, with silver swirl patterns on the back. Apart from the Acer logo, you’ll find a rather large glass cover for the 5MP camera lens and a small LED flash on the left. On the top front we have the front facing 2MP camera, and the Home button at the bottom. The Home button is touch based, like the screen itself; sadly it doesn’t have any haptic feedback as I have come to expect from Android smartphones.

On the top we have the Power/Sleep button, as well as the 3.5mm headphones jack. On the bottom we have the mini-HDMI and the mini-USB port as well as the docking station port. There’s also an AC input jack for charging the A100. Completing the lower end are the two stereo speakers that actually pump out surprisingly decent sound.

On the right side we have the screen orientation lock, below which are the volume keys. Move further down and you’ll see the micro-SD expansion slot which can support up to 32GB of memory.

Applications and Interface

The Iconia Tab A100 runs the stock Android Honeycomb 3.2 with the stock interface on show. Thankfully Acer of America confirmed last month that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be coming to the Iconia Tab A100 as well. And given the recent leak by the XDA developers, it seems that the ICS update for the Iconia Tab A100 is imminent.

Moving along, even though we don’t have a customized UI, Acer did plug in some of their own apps on the Iconia Tab A100. Primarily there’s the SocialJogger application which basically combines the news feed from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Then there’s Clear.Fi which is Acer’s proprietary app for sharing media over WiFi.

The overall user experience remains the same while using Honeycomb as any other dual-core 1GHz tablet, that is to say that it’s fairly quick. However, don’t expect smooth transitions and snappy playback like iPad 2. Most likely the optimizations brought in with the ICS 4.0 update will improve performance as well. It’s good to know that unlike some early generation Honeycomb tablets, the A100 will move forward with an impressive new update.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

  • Pete

    I had both… and while I loved playbooks battery life and quality build / awesome cameras, it lacked apps, even after 2.0 update… no netflix, no skype… so I went with a100, at $250 at Microcenter. I’m happy with it… battery life is lacking of course, but I can sneak in all day use out of it. Also, ICS is coming soon!

  • Mich

    I just purchased a refurbished A100 after spending a month using a Samsung Tab 10.1.  The Samsung was limited at 16 GB of memory and seemed to take a long time to boot.  The A100 on the other hand seems quite responsive, is expandable (got a 32 GB SD card in it at the moment).  Loaded the XDA Developer ICS and other than it can’t be rooted it is running very well, games seem quicker, playing movies is a lot smoother and getting WiFi connections.  Find there is a lot of A100 accessories available at reasonable prices.  For the $200 price point I paid it definitely is going to meet my day to day internet browsing and movie watching needs.

  • Eric Zaba

    Go ICS yay. I love my android I’m typing with it now

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