Acer Iconia A500 Android tablet
Acer Iconia A500 review: An Android 'Honeycomb' tablet with USB and HDMI-out ports
- Sturdy and well constructed design
- USB and HDMI-out ports
- Android Honeycomb 3.0 OS
- A little chunky and heavy
- Screen difficult to see in sunlight
The Acer Iconia A500 is a little on the chunky side, but potential buyers may be happy to make the sacrifice in return for USB and HDMI-out connectivity.
Price$ 579.00 (AUD)
Acer is the latest company to jump aboard the tablet wagon with the Iconia A500 Android tablet. The 10.1in Acer Iconia A500 runs the latest version of Google's Android operating system, 3.0 Honeycomb, and has a full-sized USB port for storing and transferring files, along with an HDMI port for direct connection to a high-definition television.
Read our guide to the best upcoming tablets in 2011.
Acer Iconia A500: Design and display
Our first impressions of the Acer Iconia A500 Android tablet weren't all positive, but the longer we played with it the more we appreciated its brushed aluminium back, curved bottom and top edges, and flat sides. We like how the brushed aluminium back wraps around to the bottom and top bezel on the front, and, although Acer can't claim to offer the same superb industrial design that Apple is well-known for, the Iconia A500 feels sturdy and well built. Side-mounted headphone jack, USB and HDMI-out ports, a bottom-mounted proprietary port and a plastic flap housing a microSD card slot along the top complete the Iconia A500's exterior.
The downside to the industrial look and feel of the Iconia A500 is that it is a little on the chunky side, and at 730g it is rather heavy. Acer will be hoping that potential buyers may be happy sacrificing a little size and weight for some extra features — while we think many people will be happy to do so, we still have our reservations about carrying the Iconia A500 around all day. We also didn't like the external buttons: The power, volume and screen-orientation lock keys are all too small considering the size of the unit, and the volume key is not raised enough so it feels a little awkward to press. The plastic flap housing the microSD card slot feels flimsy.
The Acer Iconia A500 has a 10.1in LCD with a 1280x800 resolution. Indoors the display produces vibrant colour and crisp text, but its glossy surface makes it very tough to see in direct sunlight, and its viewing angles aren't great. Importantly, the Iconia A500's display is responsive to touch.
Acer Iconia A500: Software
Along with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v, the Acer Iconia A500 is one of the first tablets to run Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb platform, which has been specifically designed for tablets. The software is a "vanilla" version of the Honeycomb OS, though Acer does include a few small hubs to store and sort downloaded apps. These include social, eReading, Game Zone and Multimedia; they are merely a fancy bookshelf background where you can group application shortcuts. Android 3.0 Honeycomb has a completely redesigned interface that aims to take advantage of the larger screen of a tablet. New UI features include an "action bar", a contextual option group displayed at the top of the screen, five customisable home screens with a big emphasis on widgets, a recent apps list for easier multitasking, a redesigned on-screen keyboard, a new browser and improved copy and paste.
Most of the changes are positive. The Acer Iconia A500's Web browser is slick, fast and displays Flash content, most of the time with minimal delay. It also supports tabbed Web browsing and the entire browsing experience is as close as you'll find to a full desktop or notebook computer. The on-screen keyboard is also spacious and comfortable to type on once you get used to its layout.
The Android Honeycomb user interface of the Acer Iconia A500, particularly the home screen, looks striking and is easy to use, and the handling of notifications is excellent. The recent apps list also makes flicking back and forth between recently used programs a breeze. We love the flexibility of live widgets, and they are particularly useful on a tablet device with much more screen real estate than a smartphone. We did however notice that flicking between home screens populated with more than three or four widgets does tend to make scrolling jerky.
Despite all Android Honeycomb's positive experiences, it is clear the software is still in its infancy, so the overall out-of-the-box experience isn't as slick as it could be. The Iconia A500's browser still automatically switches to mobile versions of many Web sites (including Facebook) and Flash video performance — a key advantage the device is claimed to hold over the iPad — is hit and miss. Sometimes, the browser would crash trying to load Flash-heavy sites, while other times it would load them almost perfectly. Browsing Twitter, for example, was also clunky at best.
A more pressing issue is the lack of third-party apps in the Android market that have been designed with a tablet in mind. Many common apps, including the official Twitter and Facebook apps, have not yet been optimised for the larger screen size the Iconia A500 offers. Default Google apps like Maps, Gmail and YouTube worked excellently, and there are a handful of downloadable apps like Angry Birds and Pulse News Reader that filled the screen perfectly and worked without issues. But many apps in the Android Market simply resize to fit the Iconia A500's screen. This issue will, of course, change over time as the platform evolves and develops, but means the current user experience offered by Android tablets like the Iconia A500 are still very much a work in progress.
Acer Iconia A500: Performance and hardware
Acer says the Iconia A500 offers a "superb mobile and home entertainment experience". The Iconia A500 supports HD video playback and recording, and has an HDMI-out port, so it can be plugged directly into a high-definition television. It also has a full USB port for storing and transferring files. The Iconia A500 doesn't come preloaded with a file manager but a quick and free download of one from the Android Market (we recommend Astro File Manager) makes it easy to access files on the USB port. Even more convenient is the fact that you can plug in a USB keyboard into the Iconia A500 and use it for text input.
The Acer Iconia A500 is powered by a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor — the same used in the Galaxy Tab 10.1v — and 1GB RAM. The Iconia A500 comes in 16GB and 32GB sizes, and both models come with expandable memory via a microSD card slot. Critically, the tablet felt slick and fast throughout testing.
The Acer Iconia A500 has a rear 5-megapixel camera, and a 2-megapixel front camera for video calls. Although both take significantly better quality photos than the iPad 2, the quality of still images and HD video recording can't match those captured with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v.
Acer claims the Iconia A500's battery is good for up to 10 hours, but we experienced much less during testing. Though the Iconia A500 often lasted over two days with moderate use, which is a fair result, listening to music and watching videos reduces battery life. We used the Iconia for an hour of video and music listening during our morning and afternoon commute, as well as playing a few games and doing some casual Web browsing and e-mailing, and managed about seven hours of use before the battery needed recharging.
The Acer Iconia A500 starts at $579 for the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi model, and $678 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, but it will also be released in Wi-Fi + 3G variants at a later, unannounced date.
Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide
Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters
Join the PC World newsletter!
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Acer Swift 7
Huawei Mate 9
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 4 HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- 5 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
Latest News Articles
- Sleek new Galaxy S8 phones feature facial recognition, Bixby intelligent agent
- 5 Samsung Galaxy S8 features Apple should steal for iPhone 8
- Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro finally adds 4K video support for local files
- Samsung unveils Bixby voice assistant for upcoming Galaxy S8
- Sony's virtual reality suit is why people go to SXSW
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCWintel Engineers - NV1ACT
- FTSenior Information Security SpecialistQLD
- FTTechnical ConsultantACT
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- TPJunior Business AnalystQLD
- CCFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- FTDatabase DeveloperSA
- FTJunior Applications SupportSA
- TPSenior Drupal Developer / ArchitectQLD
- FTDevelopment Team LeadQLD
- CCChange LeadNSW
- CCSecurity Vetting OfficerACT
- CC.Net Developer - SilverlightVIC
- FTSenior Business Analyst, Superannuation productNSW
- FTHadoop Service AdministratorWA
- TPSalesforce Functional AnalystNSW
- FTAgile CoachVIC
- FTIT Security Team LeadNSW
- TPIntergration SpecialistQLD
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC
- TPIT Service Desk AnalystVIC
- FTService Desk Analyst (Level 1 Support)NSW
- TPJava DeveloperWA
- FTJunior Applications SupportVIC