The Bottom Line
- Readily Available
- Better Than Expected Speakers
- Full Sized USB Host Port
- Heavier Than Many Other 10-inch Tablets
- Below Average Battery Life
- Extra Software Included That Is Redundant
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Cortex-A9) 1GHz Dual Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 16GB Storage
- 10.1" WXGA (1280x800) Multitouch Display
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 Graphics Engine
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- 5 Megapixel Back Camera With LED Flash And 2 Megapixel Front Camera
- micro-USB, USB, mini-HDMI, 3.5mm Audio
- 10.2" x 7" x .52" @ 1.69 lbs.
- Android 3.0
Guide Review - Acer Iconia Tab A500 10.1-inch 1
May 5 2011 - Acer's Iconia Tab A500 has one major advantage over much of the Android 3.0 competition because it can be found quite easily and at relatively affordable levels. While not as cheap as the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer that is near impossible to find, the 16GB Wi-Fi version does come in at $450 which is $50 cheaper than the equivalent iPad 2 tablet. On the downside, this certainly isn't one of the smallest or lightest tablets on the market.
At just over a half inch thick and weighing a surprisingly 1.69 pounds, the Iconia Tab A500 is a bit unwieldy to hold compared to the svelte iPad 2 or the lighter Android 3.0 tablets. With the wider aspect ratio of the display means that when held in the portrait orientation, it is quite top heavy that makes it very difficult to hold for extended periods of time. Some of this extra weight is likely to be attributed to the fact that Acer has used aluminum to cover the majority of the back panel while other Android 3.0 tablets have relied primarily on plastic. It does give it a bit nicer feel but the seams between the aluminum and plastic could be a bit smoother.
The display for the Acer Iconia A500 is certainly not up to the level of the IPS panels used in some of the other tablets but it does a decent job. Viewing angles are quite good with little color washout but the colors just don't stand out quite as vividly. It uses the standard 10.1-inch display size with a 1280x800 resolution that seems to be what all the first Android 3.0 tablets will be using. The NVIDIA Tegra 2 graphics engine does a decent job with the video and graphics but does fall a bit short of what the iPad 2 can achieve for those wanting to game on the tablet.
There are both front and back cameras on the Acer Iconia Tab A500. Once again they seem to be following the standard Android 3.0 playbook by having a five megapixel sensor on the back of the tablet with an LED flash. On the front is a two megapixel camera. The back facing camera offers mediocre performance. The color rendering seems to be fine but the images just don't seem to be sharp. The front camera on the other hand does an excellent job being used as a web camera.
Acer added a few nice touches to the Iconia Tab A500 that will be beneficial to those who like to watch a lot of media. First, the speakers on the back of the tablet are a vast improvement compared to what has come out to date. They certainly are not at the same level of quality as can be found on laptops or in headphones, but it is a much better experience for those sharing the tablet. In addition to this, Acer has included a full sized USB host port. This allows one to attach an external storage device such as a memory stick or USB hard drive to expand the storage which allows it to view additional media beyond the limit 16GB of storage. Similarly, it could be used with an external keyboard for when heavy typing may be required.
In addition to the USB port, Acer also decided to add some extra software on top of the Android 3.0 operating system. Unfortunately, most of the applications that they decided to add provide the same functions as applications that already are included with Android 3.0. In addition, Acer really tries to point out these applications over the Android applications when it many cases they don't provide a better experience than the base OS apps.
Being heavier than other 10-inch Android tablets, you figure that some of that weight would be with larger batteries. Unfortunately, this does seem to be the case. In video playback testing, the Iconia A500 only managed just seven and a quarter hours. This is well below what the Apple iPad 2 is able to achieve and also well behind what the Motorola XOOM can achieve. For most people, this will probably be plenty of time but if you are looking to use it heavily on a trans-continental flight you might be disappointed.